During the exam period, most students’ lives are turned upside down. Everything revolves around learning and passing the exams. This sounds like anything else other than relaxing. But there are many things you can do to make the preparation time more pleasant and to internalize the knowledge in the long term. The most common stress factors are wrong timing and lack of planning – procrastination says hello! In addition, you can train your learning with special methods, which will increase your efficiency in the learning process. Here we will provide you with the most important learning tips so that you are already well prepared for the next exam.
This method, which your parents probably already used to study, has been popular for years, but it still has a raison d’être. If you choose to memorize a lot of terms and definitions, index cards are a proven learning technique. Write down the term on one side and the explanation on the other. Writing it down helps you memorize the material. If you prefer digital solutions, you can download an index card app and have the content ready for memorization at any time.
No, we are not trying to encourage you to cheat. But if you can manage to write your study material as condensed as possible on a small sheet of paper, you will learn a lot just by writing out your cheat sheet. What you do with the cheat sheet on the day of the exam is up to you, of course.
If you need to memorize the content of a text or book, the SQ3R method is a remarkable support for intense learning. The following steps will help you:
The SQ3R method requires a little routine so that the individual steps are easier for you. But once you are in, you will find your way to complex and highly scientific texts faster than usual.
People usually learn easier if you can see the learning content in front of you. For example, you can work with a mind map and record important key concepts in relation to each other. As another visualization option, posters that you can hang up in a room or slips of paper with important terms that you stick on your mirror or across from your toilet on the wall are also good options. There are no limits to your imagination. But the visualization method lives on repetition. That is why you should choose places where you pass by several times a day.
As a more complex form of mnemonic, the loci method helps you to link learning content with places and locations that lie on a certain route. This route helps you learn and recall the learning material during the exam. Here is what to do with the Loci Method:
1. Create your route. This can consist of the route to the nearest supermarket or to the university. Make a note of important elements, such as a tree, a bench, a traffic sign and so on. It is important that you already know the route very well.
2. Connect the learning material with the route. Imagine that you place the individual learning content at the pre-defined elements on the route. Keep the order of the elements on your route.
3. Think of a good story. It can be crazy. The important thing is that you remember it well and that you memorize the content of the route.
Similar to the loci method, with the memory palace you connect elements with your learning material. You then put them together to form a building. The most important learning content can be used as a foundation. The pillars stand for essential terms and explanations. The roof is made up of all the details that are not so important, but that you should remember anyway. Imagine that you are walking through the palace while learning. Do the same during the exam when you have to repeat the learning material.
Studying for an oral exam can be a challenge for many students. Simulating an exam situation within a study group can help you to close common knowledge gaps. In the exam situation, you are forced not only to reproduce the learning material in your own words, but also to apply it and demonstrate your deeper understanding. The exam committee, on the other hand, must be able to ask good questions, which also requires solid knowledge. This learning method ultimately benefits the entire group. In addition, it helps to reduce exam anxiety, which is a common side effect of oral exams in particular. You can find more ideas for a good exam conversation in our article learning tips for the oral exam.
You can, of course, act out the exam conversation on your own. Instead of just memorizing the material, you can read your notes to yourself and record what you say. This may sound strange to you at first, but it is a good way to memorize the knowledge better and to find out whether you can reproduce the content independently.
Learning methods help you not only to memorize knowledge, but to deepen and understand it. But people are fundamentally different when it comes to learning. Even comprehension can change over the course of the day. If you hit a low point, the best method will not help you. In such cases, take a break, get plenty of exercise and sharpen your concentration. Also, always try to engage all your senses to keep the learning curve going. So instead of cramming your flashcards all day, you can watch a video on the topic in between or listen to a recording while taking a walk.
Furthermore, there are different types of learners, so none of these methods guarantee outstanding success. Therefore, you should invest some time well in advance of the exam period to familiarize yourself with the different learning techniques. However, once you have found your favorite method, it will certainly serve you well and save you a lot of time.
Besides the method, it also depends on the learning environment and your time management. The techniques will help you to prepare for your exams efficiently, but they are not a solution for chronic procrastination. Instead, you should heed our tips for more self-organization in your studies and never put off learning until the last minute. After all, the knowledge will not stick, which would help you later in your studies or in your job.
Do you already have an idea which learning method you want to try out? Very good! We wish you good luck with your next exam.