Study tips for the scientifically inclined

Sarah Main shares some of her science-based wisdom to tell you how best to revise for your exams

9th May 2016
  1. Take a break. You re-learn material by taking breaks, which makes it more memorable than reading the same page over and over again. Numerous studies have proven that exercise can increase your mental performance too; even just taking a 20-minute break to stand up and walk around can be useful. Physical activity can stimulate your body to produce new neurones and slow cognitive decay, which can help to consolidate memories.
  2. Change up your study location. Multiple studies have found that students who go over the same work in different rooms achieve better test marks, even better than sitting in the library for 12 hours straight.
  3. All-nighters aren’t so wonderful. Studies have shown that missing only one night of sleep can increase activity of PD4E enzymes – these can impair your memory and cognitive performance for up to 4 days. On a related note, though, sleep researcher Dan Taylor found that studying more difficult work just before bed makes you more likely to remember it.
  4. Make up your own questions. Thinking of a question yourself adds an extra step to your study process – you’re going over a topic twice, in two different ways. Research found that by testing yourself doubles your chance of recalling facts.
  5. Don’t just highlight everything! Although this is a lot of students’ go-to method, a 2013 study showed that highlighting and re-reading really doesn’t work for many. This actually might make your test scores worse, as you learn disjointed facts and may struggle to make connections between them.

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