The traditional, stereotypical ideal of the straight-A student spending countless hours studying at the same desk in the library week after week is not only inaccurate, but actually counterproductive. Too many students think that this is the way to good grades, and to ace the ACT, but nothing could be farther from the truth.
To be sure, studying more is generally better than studying less, but studying that is tedious and boring is not nearly as effective as it could be. It can actually be a waste of time.
How We Remember What We Study
By studying the way the brain works in memory, scientists have been able to determine what best helps us remember things.
All the studying in the world is pointless if
you don’t retain what you’re studying, so it is critical to analyze the nitty gritty of memory to find what techniques work best.
What the brain does in learning does is to associate what we are studying with things we already know. Our brain says “oh, I understand this new thing, it’s kind of similar to this other thing I already know…” Thus, the more we know, the easier it is to learn because we have more things to associate new learnings with.
New Revelation for a Great Study Technique
A recent study found that it is not just what we already know that helps us remember things, but also the environment and surroundings WHERE we are learning. Specifically, if we study something several times in several different places – let’s say a coffee shop, our living room, and at a friend’s house – we have much greater retention because the brain has three different locations to tie it all into.
It’s not just the repetition that helps, but also that we were in three different environments. Even though you won’t remember in a month where you learned something, the brain actually used the fact that you studied it in a few different locations to make it easier to retain in its long term memory.
What This Means for ACT Studying
Change your study location. If you have a study partner or study group, see about meeting in different places to review what you went over the last time
you studied together.
Before you meet with your study group at a coffee shop, for instance, skim the material at home or on the way to or from school. If you can aim for 3 different locations, reviewing the material 3 different times, you will save time over a long cram session and end up doing better.
Divide up your study time.
you have 3 hours to study in a week, then study 20 minutes a day for 6 days. The repetition will help you retain what you are studying.
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