We’ve all been told the usual study tips for our A-levels and GCSEs like using highlighters or listening to music….but do they actually work? With all the advice that’s around it can be hard to know the difference between good study skills and bad ones.
But never fear! Science has the answer. For decades, scientists having been researching what is best for our brains. Through experiments with real-life students, they can find out what really works when it comes to acing those exams.
So, in honour of their great work, we’ve come up with a list of the best study techniques as proven by science itself.
Can’t sit still while revising? A study done at Cardiff Uni has found that chewing gum can improve your ability to concentrate for long periods. People who chewed gum performed better and more accurately on longer tasks than those who didn’t. So why not give it a try next time you revise? Just maybe don’t try it in an exam….
Change Up Your Fonts
Reading through your notes can be a drag. Especially when you realise you haven’t remembered a thing. But don’t worry! Research has shown that a harder to read font can help your brain retain information more easily. In one experiment involving 222 school students, people who studied in fonts like comic sans did better than those who didn’t. Scientists think this is because it gets us to actually think about the info as opposed to just reading it. So, next time you’re typing up notes why not do it in impact?
Ditch The Highlighters
So, this is a hard one since highlighting things can help you pick out important info. But scientists have found that it might not actually help you remember things. Instead of a memorisation technique, use highlighting as a way to find the info you need remember in the first place.
Switch Up Your Study Space
Don’t just stick to studying in your room or at the library! Switching up where you study can actually help you remember things better. In one study, uni students who memorised a list of words in two different places did better on tests than those who memorised in one room. By studying the same material in different places, your brain forms different memories of the same thing. Which makes it easier to remember!
Ok, you probably already know this study tip. But it actually works! Setting yourself small self-tests throughout the semester can mean you will perform better on the big exams. And don’t just do it once! Research shows that if you repeat the same test over a few weeks the easier it will be to remember the information.
Go Old School
These days a lot of our note taking is done on our tablets or laptops. But we don't want to throw handwriting out the window just yet. Writing down your notes by hand can help your brain understand heavy concepts. While your computer is fine for simple facts, handwriting can help you remember the bigger questions like "What are the themes of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice?" Just make sure you don't run out of pen and paper....
Even being a tiny bit dehydrated can decrease your ability to perform simple tasks and form memories. And don't think you can't get away with just drinking tea! Water is the best way to keep up your fluid levels. Keep a bottle next to your desk, fill it with water and drink up!
Listen to Some Tunes
You've probably heard the old tale that classical music can help you concentrate. And, yep, that's partly true. Music can help you focus. But the good news is, it only works with music you like! Researchers have found that people who listen to their favourite music can concentrate for longer periods than those who don't. So don't worry, you can ditch the Mozart for Kanye any day.