It’s everyone’s least favorite time of year: finals.
It’s the most dreaded week of the entire semester, wedged right in the middle of the holiday season. The preceding weeks are consumed by digging through mountains of notes and stress-eating everything in sight. Sometimes it feels like you might not fail all your classes, and other times it feels like you’re drowning, surrounded by lots of other people who are also drowning. But if it’s finals week, that means the semester is almost over! All you have to do is survive these tests, and it is,in fact, possible to pass all your classes while not losing all your sanity.
Regardless of what various sources have told you before, some strategies for studying actually do work better than others. A study conducted to test the effectiveness of a variety of study strategies actually provides some insightful knowledge on which study strategies you should use.
So here’s what happened: A group of scientists examined the study strategies of 120 students from a mid-sized university. At the completion of a multiple choice exam, the students were given the option to complete the questions pertaining to the study. These questions required the students to self-report their study behaviors. These answers were analyzed in correlation with the students’ test scores to see which strategies were most effective.
Based on these results, some study strategies came up as more effective. One of these was attendance at every class (so keep that in mind before skipping that 8 a.m.). Answering every question on the study guide and using practice exams to review also positively correlated with exam scores. Finally, explaining a problem using the material positively correlates with high exam scores.
Alternatively, some surprisingly common study strategies were negatively correlated with exam scores. Based on the results, looking over notes to check for and fill in missing information and highlighting the chapter or notes are both ineffective study strategies. Additionally, asking a classmate to explain the material is often ineffective, although this might be a result of not knowing how to effectively study in groups.
The above results were originally calculated, then recalculated, taking GPA into account. This produced similar results. Regardless of whether or not the student had a high likelihood (based on their GPA) of scoring high the exam, the same study strategies were still the most effective. This is important, because this means that generally the same strategies will be the most effective at producing high test scores, regardless of who implements them.
So what does this mean for you, an average college student just trying to pass all your classes? The results of this study shed light on the most effective study strategies. So maybe utilizing some of the above strategies will have a better impact on your grade. Now, it should be mentioned that the same strategies don’t work the same for everyone. It’s still important to find what works best for you. However, if you can use the above results to get better grades in less time, well, why not?