You’re probably here because you’ve pulled the dreaded night-before-the-test all-nighter at least once in your life. You brave, sleepless cherub! It happens to the best of us; we know the struggle, and the struggle is pretty darn exhausting.
In true Aceable fashion, we’re always about making life easier for you and helping you level up. Here are some science-backed tips for studying, so that you remember and retain information for any test you come up against – whether it’s a driving test (we’ve got you!) or the SATs.
1. Study before you sleep.
Do a quick refresh of material you’ve learned that day, or just take some note cards to bed and run through vocab. Our brains strengthen new memories while we sleep, so this can be a great time to reinforce everything you’ve learned.
2. Don’t cram all of your studying into one night.
Studies show that it’s much harder for your brain to retain information after 25-30 minutes. Space your studying out by breaking up the material into small sections. Plan your study schedule out so that you’re able to study the material over weeks, instead of days before the test.
3. Aim for recollection.
Quiz yourself often with the goal of recollection, not recognition. Recognition means that you need a trigger (aka a hint) for you to remember something. Multiple choice questions are great for recognition, but don’t let yourself depend on chance; your teacher might make everything open-response, or the multiple choice answers might not contain choices you recognize exactly. Study with the aim of recalling information organically, rather than needing a hint or contextual clues.
4. Write it out the old school way.
Research suggests that we retain information better when we write it out by hand. When you take handwritten notes, you have to be more selective about what you’re writing down (because you can’t write as fast as you can type). This means your brain is working harder to listen, understand and process the information you’re hearing during class.
5. Reward yourself.
Train your brain to associate studying, information retention and recollection with positive emotions. Give yourself rewards and treats for completing studying milestones.
6. Eat brain-healthy foods.
Put the chips away and try snacking on foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids, which have tons of brain-boosting benefits. That includes fatty fish like salmon, nuts and olive oil.
7. Stay away from all-nighters.
Aim to get seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Sleep is the time when your brain and body repairs itself. When you take this important healing mechanism away, your brain function will suffer: you won’t be able to focus, you’ll have a shorter attention span, and will have difficulty recalling memories.
8. Take regular study breaks.
This will help improve your focus and keep you from burning out. Your brain is like any other muscle – it needs rest in between sets!
9. Use the web.
Don’t just rely on the textbook or class notes. Use the Internet to your advantage and do some extra reading on the subject, even if it’s just the Wikipedia page. Sometimes, having additional context can help you understand the problem or subject better (and might be useful for some extra credit answers during the exam!).
10. Have a good study environment.
Where you study is just as important as how you study. An ideal study environment is one with few distractions, low and consistent noise levels, and that makes you feel peaceful and focused.
11. Make your notes work for you.
Adapt the material and your note-taking to your specific learning style. Some people are more visual, while others learn better through listening. Whatever your specific learning style is, adapt the class material to fit that need, whether it’s looking at things in chart form or listening to audio recordings of class notes.
12. Use tech to your advantage.
There are tons of websites, apps and software to help you out. For example, Aceable offers hassle-free, certified drivers ed courses that you can take on your phone. The Princeton Review offers online and in-person test prep courses, and guarantees you’ll get a better test score or you get your money back. You don’t have to do this alone!
13. Try to teach it to someone else.
If they understand what you’re teaching them, then you know you own it.