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Effective Study Skills for Exams

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 3 6

Are you approaching exams soon?

Are you wondering about effective study skills for exams?

Then hopefully this article will be able to help you out with just that, by providing you with some of the older proven techniques of effective revising, but also some newer and modern methods of studying as well.

However, you need to bear in mind that certain revision methods and skills work better for some people than others, so it is all about identifying the best revision techniques for exams, for you on a personal level.

But it is best to mix it up a bit, and try and to diverse to at least a few methods and activities of revision otherwise studying for exams can become an even more tedious process than it already is and your less likely to recall upon the information for the examinations.

Before I start going into the revision strategies that you can undertake. It is important that the revision material you are creating it from is of a high quality, so I just wanted to go over a few quick points that you can carry out to make your study notes effective.

Most importantly make sure the notes you are creating are legible otherwise they are pretty much useless to you, they could be the best notes out of all the college students there but if you can't read them they are pointless. If you do have illegible writing I would personally use computers and try to aim for a size 14 font (proven to be the easiest to read) so that you can quickly refer to your notes.

Make sure you highlight key text using fonts and annotations etc. try to incorporate images and diagrams into the notes as well to help you understand certain aspects and concepts of the material easier as well.


Effective Study Skill One: Revision Posters

One of my personal favorite techniques is to write up my notes on posters.

Making it as colorful as possible, highlighting all sorts of different texts, adding images and diagrams to the poster to help me remember certain aspects of the material. Then pin them up around your work area, so that you are constantly in sight of the poster hence you will be seeing these notes often.

But don't ignore them, make sure that you are learning from the posters and that you are referencing back to them often. Also make sure the text is large, and not too small otherwise you will just end up ignoring the poster and not actually reading it through.


Effective Study Skill Two: Revision Cards

Using revision cards is a great way to memorise pretty much anything. 

From trying to remember certain dates, to trying to memorize quotes and who said what and when. The idea of the cards, is that you write something on one side of the card that you need to remember for example 'what is macroeconomics?' then on the other side of the card it should briefly describe what macroeconomics is. 

So once you have a fair few of these cards you need to start memorising them, so you could start off with 10 questions that are on the front of these cards and only until you can answer them all well, can you start adding more cards to memorise. 

A good little way to convince yourself that you are progressing with your revision as well.

Again, try and make the revision cards colorful as this allows for better recall. Also be sure to make little images of what is going on as this is another important aspect for an effective study skill for exams. 


Effective Study Skill Three: Mind maps

Mind maps are a great way to link certain topics together. They basically allow you to first start a big topic, then you can spread that big topic into smaller topics and then split them subtopics into even smaller subtopics until you reach start to reach points that you have to memorise. 

There has been quite a bit of positive research into people revising from mind maps as they allow you to quickly identify what kind of revision points you need to be committing to and exactly how it is relevant to the entire course and it can allow you to establish connections between one topic to another.

I would personally create the mind maps into a few great big posters around your study place. Again adding diagrams and images where appropriate and making it as colorful as you can. You could even do some of your mind maps on the computer with free software such as MindNode.


Effective Study Skill Four: Revision Grids

Revision grids are an especially effective study skill, if you have to learn a little about a lot which all have something in common that rules can be applied to. 

For example a revision grid could be applied to a lot of formulae or theories that are contradicting one another. So you can easily start to recognise the rules, and see the advantages and disadvantages of one aspect against another.

You need to obviously learn the differences and the table helps you do this as you can constantly refer back to it to see if you are correct. Then as you get better and better you can start to add more and more concepts to the grid, so that you learn more and more.


Effective Study Skill Five: Teach

This is a really great study technique for exams as it is forcing you to think, just as you would in an exam situation. Talk it through with a friend who has your notes and information available so they can quickly correct you if you make a mistake.

It is also forcing you to think and memorise in a different way, which is of course good for recall purposes. Talk it through with a few friends who don't now much about the topic as this will allow you to process the information you have learned clearer and actually help you just get the knowledge you know out there in an concise yet informative way, that incorporates your own opinion on the matter also.


Effective Study Skill Six: Discuss

If you have friends who are also carrying out the same subject, it would be a really positive idea to have a little study group as this can a great way to effectively revise, as you can bounce of one another for ideas and clarification of certain topics. 

As they say two heads are better than one, hence it is a really good move to clarify information that you already know that you may have had some doubt about but also is a great source for new information. It also allows you again, to approach revision in a different manner to just learning it from sheets, as you are forced to process the information instead.


Effective Study Skill Seven: Revise the Plan

This is one that I think I mainly developed myself, it works better when you are having to carry out some kind of essay or written piece in timed conditions. What you do is you find as many likely questions that you are going to be asked about as possible.

Then you start to form essay plans for all of them from the notes you have made, then you will see that certain patterns start to emerge, you begin to see what notes regularly appear and what don't, what order they come in etc.

So then when I start to revise the essay plans, which contain detailed notes. This allows me to remember what points come in where and helps me remember information faster, but also allows to me write my essay plan before the actual exam down faster as well as write the actual essay faster also due to practising writing out the essay from the revision exam plans.


Effective Study Skill Eight: Practise

When it comes to certain things there is nothing better than good old fashioned practice.

I know it is probably the least enjoyable aspect of revision but it is probably one of the most important aspects too. Practising past college examinations and university papers will allow you to gain all kinds of information for the upcoming exam.

So it needs to be done, but I would save it for the later parts of revision as this is where you fine tune all the information that you have learned and present it in a concise and effective manner.


Effective Study Skill Nine: Sticky Tags

Sticky tags are another one of my personal favorite revision strategies, as you are forced to constantly refer back to notes over and over again.

Basically by a batch of sticky tags and write important brief notes on them, again making sure they stand out and are legible, then stick them around the house to places you are always going to for example the kitchen fridge door, the toilet door, breakfast cereal box.

Then force yourself to at least the read the note before you can carry out the action e.g. you want to make breakfast, you have to read the sticky note on the cereal box before you can do it. Another mechanism for recall, attaching objects to certain ideas, mine personally was Coco-Pops to the Phillips Curve.


Effective Study Skill Ten: Videos

Another method of revision I really enjoy is videos.

There are some really great youtube videos out there that help to explain complicated aspects and topics out there rather simply and by watching them a few times over you can take down notes and add them to your collection.

But the actual process of watching the video itself is a good method for recall.

Hopefully from the ten revision points above you can at least take one effective study skill for exams away with you to try out. But to get hold of more tips that go into far more detail books I highly recommend are that of 'How to become a Straight A student: The unconventional strategies real college students use to score high while studying less' and 'how to win at college: surprising sectors for success from the country's top students' and 'What smart students know: Maximum Grades. optimum Learning. Minimum Time'.

Good luck with your exams!


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Comments

Dec 1, 2011 8:19am
Macaron
For the procrastinator it helps to set a timer for 25 minutes and concentrate without distraction until the timer rings and then take a five minute break and start again.
Dec 4, 2011 9:37am
wordfrolic
I think it would also help to take down notes during lectures so that the other strategies become more effective. Anyway, most of the tips here are very much true! I have tried most, but the ones I like best are the revision cards, teach and discuss. Good read!
Dec 7, 2011 6:33pm
McGivneyC
Well ,i plan to take the SAT soon, so i think ill try some of these. :)
Dec 16, 2011 1:12am
AuroraWindsor
Good study tips. Mind maps are a great way to synthesize a lot of information.
Sep 27, 2012 10:11am
Januarius
These 10 tips are most important for students preparing for exams.
It is my hope they read them to excell in exams.
Sep 27, 2012 10:14am
Januarius
These 10 tips are most important for students preparing for exams.
It is my hope they read them to excell in exams.
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