Myth and Method

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It is the most dreaded time of any student’s life. Finals are just around the corner and rapidly approaching.

While everyone knows that cramming is not the best way to study for a test, most end up in that situation anyways.

There are many techniques and tips when it comes to studying and while all are better than nothing, some are better than others.

Three of the most ineffective study techniques are also three of the most popular that students use to study. Arguably the most popular, rereading, is regarded as very inefficient and ineffective.

Rereading things such as textbooks, articles, etc. is time consuming and in the time taken to reread something multiple other techniques could have been used in that same time.

Another very popular but frankly unsurprisingly ineffective technique is highlighting. When used by a person that knows how to do so effectively highlighting or underlining may be beneficial, but using it when trying to learn something or make connections can actually hurt the the absorption of the content.

Summarizing or compressing a text is of next to no benefit because most students don’t know how to do so effectively and therefore unless a student has the ability to summarize correctly they can leave out key ideas, facts and events in their summary which could be on a test.

One of the most effective study techniques is practice testing. Whether with a friend, group or self administered, practice testing is very beneficial because it tests and teaches the content at the same time.

Sophomore Daphne Smith uses online resources such as “studyblue and quizlet,” which are very popular among students. When students test their knowledge it helps to cement it into their memory and when they get it wrong they are more likely to remember the correct answer the next time around.

[You could]“make flash cards and talk to others in your class to see what they are studying,” sophomore Daphne Smith said.  

Distributed practice is also one of the most efficient ways to memorize content. The act of splitting up content over a matter of days or weeks is very effective.

“Flashcards are very helpful, also having a friend study with you,” sophomore Ashley Dabdub said.  

This technique starts the studying process earlier than the day before the test. Therefore decreasing stress and increasing content absorption as there is more time for students to focus on certain points and time for students to determine what they are strong and what they aren’t strong in, thus giving them time to focus on what they need to focus on.

Cramming is regarded as the worst study technique, despite its popularity among students. Most students like Dabdub “definitely” end up in the situation.

Waiting to review and study for a upcoming test decreases the time available for students to study, therefore resulting in a rushed review and possibly missed or overlooked content which could be on a test.

The lack of time to focus on specific points can end up rushing students so much they learn nothing.

Although staying up all night cramming can be worse than just getting a good night’s sleep before the test as a sleep deprived brain does not benefit a student’s test scores or content absorption. While regarded as the least effective study technique, it is still better than nothing at all.