How to Study: Ace Your Grades
Exams are a part of everyone’s lives, from GCSEs all the way up to aptitude tests for jobs. They can catch you off-guard if you don’t prepare effectively, but they are far from impossible.
With the right guidance, plenty of preparation, and determination, you’ll be able to flourish and pass your exams.
In this guide, you’ll learn what your learning style is and how to revise effectively, as well as gain knowledge on what to do in the exam hall.
Sample Additional Learning Styles
This approach, also known as the ‘bodily-kinaesthetic’ style, involves using your body and sense of touch to help revise. Physical learners tend to be into activities which make use of the whole body, such as sports, exercise, or gardening. Physical leaners like to think about things while they do these activities, and often use them as a way of working through their problems.
They also like to go straight into the physical, practical parts of learning as soon as possible. For example, rather than sitting and learning the theory in a Physical Education lesson, physical learners like to do it all for themselves. This style of learning is quite similar to kinaesthetic learning, with the major difference being that physical learners use their bodies more.
Physical learners can take advantage of their sensitivity to the physical world by using gestures and body motions to remember things. For example, if you need to remember a quote for an essay-based exam, you might learn it better by physically acting it out, creating hand and body motions that stick in your brain. Flashcards can also be incredibly useful for physical learners, especially if you move them around a lot or place them around your workspace.
In addition, physical learners benefit from breathing and relaxation techniques to focus and get in a mindset suitable for revision. Even if you aren’t a physical learner, you can probably make use of meditation and relaxation to prepare yourself for revision!
As the name suggests, logical learners make best use of their brain by engaging in logical and mathematical reasoning. Logical learners are adept at finding patterns in information, and can use them to create mental associations between different facts. In particular, they can easily categorise information, essentially using the ‘chunking’ method of committing information to memory.
Logical learners tend to work through things in an organised manner. They’ll work best under regimented revision schemes, and will likely prefer to categorise everything they need to study. The advantage of this is that they’ll get to tick things off as they move through the content. This can be incredibly satisfying. Logical learners might also prefer to place everything in a ranked order.
Logical learners are great at getting ‘behind the scenes’ of what they’re learning. For example, if they have to revise a mathematical formula, they’ll perhaps get the urge to figure out why the formula is written in a specific way, taking it apart and learning the theory behind it. This is particularly useful for science and maths-based material, but could be applied to any setting.
While logical learners have a lot of advantages when it comes to revision, they need to avoid getting stuck overanalysing one small detail. They can’t get hung up on something that’s relatively small in the larger picture of their work. This can take some training, but eventually logical learners can adapt to avoid spending too much time thinking and working on one thing.
Social learners are best suited to communication with others, whether during revision or just in everyday life. Social learners work best in groups or pairs, either discussing their findings directly with one another or collaboratively building revision strategies. Social learners will absolutely benefit from the “discussing with others” method we discussed in the previous chapter, since they’ll be able to communicate their own ideas effectively as well as keenly listen to others.
In addition, social learners tend to be good team players. This can be excellent for assessed group exercises, such as presentations, where candidates are tested on how they work with others as well as their individual input.
Social learners should focus on working at least with one other person. Almost any of the methods listed in the previous chapter can be applied to a cooperative setting. A group or pair of learners could make flashcards together, then test each other in a semi-competitive environment. Social learners can also use role-plays to remember events or key concepts, especially if they have a large group of people to work with. Social learners can also get together and create mind maps or do learning games to help them remember the most important facts.
The final learning style for this chapter is solitary learning, which is almost the complete opposite of social learning. Solitary learners prefer to study alone, and might find the input of others distracting. Instead, they like to focus on what they think, as opposed to what other people have to say. Revision in a quiet, private space is preferable, or perhaps even necessary.
Since solitary learners work better on their own, they don’t have the benefit of talking through ideas and concepts with others. Instead, solitary learners can keep a diary or journal – a space independent of their proper revision notes, where they can write down their own thoughts on a topic.
As you might’ve noticed, there’s quite a bit of an overlap between these learning styles and those in the last chapter. By all means, mix and match between styles and methods to find what works best for you. In particular, the social/solitary styles work in conjunction with the others, so you might find that you best employ a combination of two or three different styles of learning.
Sample Improving Memory Tips
Your brain can store huge amounts of information, so you don’t need to worry about expanding the capacity of your brain. The brain has approximately a billion neurons in it, and each of these can form over one thousand connections to other neurons. This means that there are over a trillion connections in the human brain. If each of these connections accounts for a single memory, then that means your brain can store one trillion memories. If this is true, you don’t need to worry about your brain running out of storage space.
Instead, people who want to improve their memory need to focus on the following:
- Making sure information is committed to long-term memory;
- Finding reliable ways to recall these memories easily.
We’ll be taking a look at both of these in more detail, looking at tricks which you can use to improve in both areas.
As we’ve discussed, information starts by existing in the short-term memory. This is where memories you need in the moment are kept, and can only last reliably for up to 30 seconds. After this, they either disappear entirely or become inaccurate. For this reason, you need to make sure the information you’re absorbing in your revision enters the long-term memory. Lots of things get stored in your long-term memory without much conscious effort on your part, but this doesn’t mean you can read a page once and expect it all to be absorbed. You need to focus on the information and use techniques to create strong connections. A lot of people find that associating information with certain things can be useful. Rewriting information in your own words, or discussing it in your own words with a friend, is usually a good way of committing information to long-term memory. You’ll associate facts with where you are and who you’re talking to, and rewording the information will prove that you understand it.
There are a few other methods, all with some scientific evidence, which allow you to strengthen memories and commit them more easily. Scientists have found a connection between chewing gum while studying and committing more memories to long-term memory, potentially because chewing gum stimulates the hippocampus (the part of the brain which handles memory). Other studies suggest that drinking coffee helps consolidation of information to long-term memory. However, remember that a dependence on caffeine can put you at a disadvantage when you’re in the exam room.
Finally, some studies suggest that eating berries can improve your ability to commit information to the long-term memory. This might be worth trying if you want to gain an extra advantage when it comes to studying.
MAIN PRODUCT FEATURES
- A guide to exam preparation – From getting started all the way up to the exam, this guide covers every step of the process.
- Tips for avoiding stress – Since stress is dangerous and can reduce revision and exam effectiveness, we’ve included methods of combating and preventing it.
- A guide to improving your memory – Complete with tips, explanations, and memory games, there’s everything you need to
- Example and Sample Timetables – An excellent resource for gettings ideas about how to structure your revision and get started.
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