How Do Students Study For Post-Secondary Exams?

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study for post-secondary exams, laptops, phones, tea on table
Photo by Marvin Meyer via Unsplash

Study Environment

The following tips, originally posted at StudentAwards Conversations, were contributed by students in our membership.

  • Best place to study is a place without WIFI. We always study and do homework at our local Tim Hortons. You can listen to music or if that is too much of a distraction, people in the restaurant provide enough background noise to keep you stimulated. Plus there is a sufficient amount of coffee for those late nights just an arms reach away and the best part is no internet, no distracting Facebook! (Posted by: kocka28)
  • I’m in my third year, and I normally study while listening to music, quiet but in the background. One of my teachers asked the class if we ever spend any of the day in silence, and most of us admitted that we rarely, if ever, do. She challenged us to try it for a while, and I started studying without music, and it really increases concentration. Finding a place that is silent is sometimes hard, but school libraries are a great option! (Posted by: herlein123)
  • There is one tip that my psych teacher gave me for studying for “big tests” that struck me as interesting: make your study environment the same as your test environment. Have you ever had one of those times when a memory is triggered by doing an activity you’ve done before? Like, if you’re reading a book you’ve read before, you might recall what [by what] you were doing on the day you last read that book? That can happen with studying. If you sit at a desk and wear the same kinds of clothes you will wear to take the test, and don’t text or listen to music (because you wouldn’t be able to do this during the test, would you?) you may be more likely to remember the information you were studying when it comes time to take the test. (Posted by: slabelle00)
  • Don’t multitask while studying. Turn off Facebook and your phone. Distractions make the study period a waste of time. Also, don’t study for more than 30 minutes at a time. Taking little breaks in between is vital. (Posted by: LaPetiteTanya)
  • Turn off all electronics including cell phones, music, TV, wifi, computer, etc. Go to a quiet place such as library and force yourself to study with no distractions. This worked for me and it raised my average! (Posted by: kanzai)

Study Groups

The following tip, originally posted at StudentAwards Conversations, was contributed by a student in our membership.

I find that studying with a group of people I am acquainted with, but not quite friends with, works best. With friends, we tend to go off on tangents and get almost nothing done. With these slightly familiar groups, I can study a lot better because we are less likely to talk about anything else. Talking about what you need to learn is a sure way to understand the material! (Posted by: tashaajones)

Study Notes

The following tips, originally posted at StudentAwards Conversations, were contributed by students in our membership.

  • I really like to go through my notes and highlight a keyword or two per point. That way, you don’t have to know every single thing word for word, but you’ll still be able to develop upon these ‘reference words’ that you’ve highlighted … It’s just easier, plus if you’re studying the hour before a test/exam, it’s much more efficient to scan a couple of words than having to read full sentences. (Posted by: mattshore)
  • The way that I study, especially when reading from a textbook, is to highlight what is important first and then take notes on it. Then right before the test I re-write my notes and condense them as much as possible. I keep re-writing and condensing until the final. I have three or so pages of core material and having looked at the rest of it so much and writing it out, I know my stuff. (Posted by: c3gibson)
  • I also love to highlight important words/short phrases in my textbooks and study guides. I like making side notes, etc. to help me realize critical concepts. Using different coloured pens is great too. My bio teacher likes to use green (know it all), yellow (know it competently), and red (Houston, we have a problem), analogous to the traffic lights. (Posted by: ErlemeyerFlame)
  • If it’s diagrams and pictures, I draw it once to try and understand it. Then I keep drawing it until I can understand and reiterate it in words. If I’m reviewing notes, I try to highlight the important words and put them into my own words to better understand the material. (Posted by: nc2chicken)
  • When I have a reading to do, I habitually HIGHLIGHT… I mean, like crazy! It makes key terms and points stick out, which makes them more memorable. Additionally, try taking down notes while you read, highlight things that you don’t understand and look them up on the internet or talk to someone about them. Also, if possible, take a chance to talk to your profs or someone in your classes who seems to know what they are talking about. A lot of the time, all it takes is listening to someone in a less formal setting for you to really catch on. Finally, a great way to remember things is to make connections — think about how something you have just heard or learned can connect with something you have previous knowledge of. Sort of… learning by association. (Posted by: johannafraser)
  • The way that I study is by reading over the notes that I’ve copied in class. Once I’ve done that, I go through my notes and condense them into my own words. After that, I read them over and make sure I understand what I’m reading … Memorizing is good when you’re in a jam but by understanding the topic you will find it easier to put out the answers in your own words. I then further condense my notes so that they are trigger words that I can go back to when asked a question. In my head that one word will bring back the entire concept that I can then use to answer the question. (Posted by: christophersingh)
  • For exams, I usually summarize all my notes. And then summarize the summaries. Sometimes I will write my notes in different colours because I can remember where and what colour the information was on the page when it comes to an exam question. Also, [I] focus more on studying stuff I don’t know. If you know certain things, don’t bother studying that! Only study things that you don’t know. (Posted by: meesh41)