You have a huge exam tomorrow and you're feeling the pressure. Quick, what's the best way to study?
Should you re-read your textbook? Maybe highlight it? Do some underlining? Should you look over your notes? These are common study habits, so should you spend your limited study time doing these things?
These are actually the worst things you can do for studying. They're common, most likely, because they require very little effort. It's mostly passive. But if you want to actually get something done you'll skip these methods. Instead, you'll work harder, learn faster and learn better.
By doing something active. Want to know the information cold? Studies show you should practice recalling your knowledge and using it.1 This means testing yourself or working together with a friend to test each other. The act of recalling knowledge is the best way to solidify it in your mind.
So what does that look like?
- If you're studying history, vocabulary or another subject where you need to remember facts: make flash cards.
- If you're studying math, physics or another subject where you need to use your knowledge to solve problems: complete practice problems.
- If you're studying for literature, psychology or another subject where you need to use your knowledge to write an expository or persuasive essay: outline how you would answer common essay questions about the topic.
Study harder and faster to get better grades!
1 - For example, see the Time article, Highlighting Is a Waste of Time: The Best and Worst Learning Techniques