Hopefully you got your applications done and dusted over the Thanksgiving holiday and even managed to catch up on your sleep, because now it is time to refocus on your schoolwork.
Because, the end of the term is coming and your grades this term matter!
In fact, this year when standardized testing is optional at virtually every college, your grades matter more than ever. So add some focused studying to your to do list this week as you work on wrapping up the tasks related to applying. We’ve given you our best tips for effective studying, so you can make the time you spend really count!
1. Take practice tests for the material you are studying.
Ideally, you use a practice test that is as similar as possible to the real test. So if you will have a multiple choice test in Mrs. Adams’ US History class, then ideally you would study using a multiple choice test previously given in Mrs. Adams’ US History class. BUT and this is a big BUT, you will still get benefit from practice testing even if the practice test is not in the same format as the real test, provided it addresses the same subject matter.
To find practice tests, first, ask your teacher about releasing old tests for you to use as study tools. If that’s a no go, then search practice tests online – just Google “practice tests” and the name of your textbook. Finally if there is nothing online, then treat the questions at the end of your textbook chapter as a test, using homemade or purchased flashcards to test yourself.
2. After doing a practice test, restudy as needed.
Restudying involves going back to the questions that you got wrong and studying the correct answer. If you can’t understand the correct answer, then ask someone to explain it to you (your teacher, a friend in the class, a tutor). Once you have read and understand the correct answer, you have “restudied” the material.
3. Plan on “distributed” studying rather than “massed” studying (aka cramming).
Distributed studying is a fancy way of saying that you break your studying into shorter sessions over time, rather than cramming. The science says that you should have a gap of time between study sessions equal to 10-20% of the total study time if you want to retain what you are learning. Assuming you are going to have finals before you leave for the winter holiday, you need to retain what you are studying anywhere for 14 to 21 days, so the easy way to do it would be to add a practice test or restudy session every other day for each class. Divide and conquer! If you have six classes with finals, do three classes on one day and the other three classes on the next day and continue alternating until finals.
Anna Ivey is one of the founders of Inline. An experienced admissions consultant and a frequently cited media expert on the topic of college admissions, she is also co-author of the college admissions bible How to Prepare a Standout College Application. Learn more about Anna's background here.