Do you ever find yourself studying really hard for a test but ultimately not doing so well? You spent hours reviewing your notes, only to receive a grade that doesn’t reflect your hard work. It’s not that you’re not smart — it’s just that you’re studying the wrong way.

When I was younger, I did the good old-fashioned method of staring at my notes for two hours and hoping the content would magically stick with me. What I didn’t realize at the time was that reading over my notes was not an efficient way of studying. I often spaced out, or gave myself “little breaks” to check social media because I was bored out of my mind. I was hardly retaining any of the information I was reading. 

If you’re anything like younger me, please stop staring at your notes, hoping you’ll remember everything. Start studying in a more engaging way. Below are a couple of active studying methods that I found worked best for me.

Method #1: Try explaining the concepts/theories that you’re studying to family members or friends. If you can explain it to them to a point where they can understand it, then that means you understand it. 

Method #2: Create compare-and-contrast tables for different concepts/theories. This helps our brain with categorizing information. If you can fill up a table, that means you know enough about them. Understanding their similarities and differences will also be helpful for a test.

Method #3: Study with friends. If you’re able to stay focused, studying with a group might be more fun and motivating than studying alone. It’s also great to hear other people’s thoughts on the course material in case there’s anything you missed or misinterpreted. Pick potential test topics and hold discussions to gain insight into different ways of thinking about a problem.

Method #4: This one shouldn’t be much of a surprise — flashcards. Flashcards are a great way to memorize important material! To make it more fun, write your flashcards using colorful pens and highlight important parts. 

Method #5: The last option is to use a study website. I personally use Quizlet, which I find very useful for foreign language studies, but I’ve also used StudyBlue in the past. A lot of these sites offer premium versions, so be aware of which features are free and any “free trial” due dates.

Try using some of these methods when you study for your next test, and see if you’ve improved. Studying can be boring, but finding ways to make it more fun can really help you do well on your tests. So don’t lose motivation — you’ve got this!

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