5 SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN TIPS TO HELP YOU PREPARE FOR YOUR EXAM

Monday, 22 October 2018

By ASP School Projects

Get behind your text books! If your parents and teachers did not stress this enough, we want to make it clear!

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Get behind your text books! If your parents and teachers did not stress this enough, we want to make it clear!

With exams around the corner and teachers trying to finish up the terms work, you might start feeling the pressure to study. However, with homework and extramural activities that are still in your schedule, it might be difficult to find the time or motivation to hit the books. That’s why we want to share with every school learner 5 scientifically proven tips to advance your study sessions.


In this article we discuss the following 5 Scientifically proven tips to help you prepare for your exam:
1. Recall instead of read.
2. Use the Feynman Technique.
3. Learn like Leitner.
4. Make your heart pump.
5. Practise with tests.


1. Recall instead of read.

According to psychology professor Mark A McDaniel, from Washington University, it is a general mistake that most students make to simply read and re-read through their textbooks and think it is the best study method. He says students should rather actively recall their work by putting down their textbooks after they have read the information and then either write down everything they can remember or saying it out loud. He explains that simply rereading your work is an ineffective study method since students are familiar with their textbooks, therefore they don’t challenge their brains to think and recall what they have read. The problem arises in tests, because then the students don’t have the luxury of their textbooks with them, and then they feel like their minds went “blank”. In one of Daniel’s experiments he let two groups of people memorise the same complex passage. One group only read and reread through the passage while the other group actively recalled the content of the passage. Can you guess which group could recall more information after a week? It was of course the second group that used active recalling as their study method!


2. Use the Feynman Technique.

The Feynman Technique is credited to Nobel Prize-winning physicist, Richard Feynman. Feynman was always able to explain his complex concepts simplistically that it became a method that anyone can apply. Allegedly Albert Einstein once said, “If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.” This is why the Feynman Technique is so important when studying, since your understanding of a topic will improve when you explain it.

This method is applied in five steps:

  • Firstly, you need to choose the topic that you are about to explain. Decide whether you are going to explain it verbally or whether you are going to write it down. We suggest you do both (just like a good teacher), explain the topic verbally and write it down as you go along.
  • The second step is to explain the concept of the subject you are studying, like you are explaining it to a five-year-old (or to your grandparents). This means you should use simple language, but still explain the whole concept and include the core principles. In this step you should also include practical application or examples of this concept.
  • The third step is to indicate where your knowledge had a gap or crack. What did you forget to include in the explanation or where did you explain it wrong? Review your explanation for its accuracy, completeness and where you doubted yourself.
  • In the fourth step you need to make a comparison or analogy to explain the concept. Therefore, you connect the new concept with existing information. For example, learning about fractions is just like cutting cake into different pieces.
  • The last step is to simply your explanation. How can you explain it easier, simpler or faster? Perform all the steps again to ensure that you have simplified and explained the concept at its best.


3. Learn like Leitner.

Sebastian Leitner, renowned German science journalist and author of ‘So Lernt Man Lernen’ (‘How To Learn To Learn’), is credited for the Leitner System. The Leitner System is a study technique to use flashcards efficiently with spaced repetition. Firstly, we want to emphasise the importance of flashcards. Flashcards is a very effective way to recall information actively, that helps the brain memorise topics by creating unique neural pathways. Flashcards should be created by students individually and each student should use words and pictures to help them explain the concept.

Three quick tips for using your flashcards:

  • Use one flashcard for one question only.
  • Say your answers out loud.
  • Study your flashcards from both sides.

Once your flashcards are created, you can start using the Leitner System. In this system you divide the flashcards in 3 groups or boxes. For the purpose of this example we will call it Box 1, Box 2 and Box 3. Box 1 contains all the flashcards that the learner doesn’t know very well and are struggling with. Box 2 contains all the flashcards that the learner knows fairly well, but sometimes make mistakes with. Box 3 contains all the flashcards that the learner knows very well and is very confident in.

The flashcards in Box 1 should be revised every day. The flashcards should be revised every 2-3 days for Box 2. The flashcards in Box 3 should be revised once a week. When the learner answers the question on a flashcard in Box 1 correctly, the card is moved to Box 2. When the question on the flashcard in Box 2 is answered correctly, it is moved to Box 3. However, if the question on the flashcard in Box 2 is answered incorrectly, it is moved back to Box 1. This way the repetition of the facts on the cards are spaced out so that the learner’s brain can retain the information much more effectively.


4. Make your heart pump.

It is commonly known that exercise helps to relieve stress and increase blood circulation when you study. However, did you know that exercising for 20 minutes to an hour a day during your exam study period will improve brain functionality and memory. To learn more about exercise that relates to higher marks, read our blog article ‘4 Advantages of exercise and sport activities on the brain.’


5. Practise with tests.

Practice exam papers have been around for many years to ensure that learners practice what they learn by applying their knowledge under exam conditions. To understand why you need to start using practice exam papers and to learn proper exam techniques, read our blog article ‘The best way to know that you are prepared for your exam is through self-assessment.’

Why is practice exam papers a vital study technique?
Through the use of practice exam paper, students create a sense of urgency to study, because they have to be able to write down their answers. According to the researcher, Piers Steel, people procrastinate on activities (like studying) because the further away an event (like a test) is, the less impact it has on their decision-making. For example, if you know your first exam is four weeks away, chances are you will only start studying two weeks prior to the test. However, if you know you need to starting working though past papers or practice tests one week before the test, you will most likely start studying earlier. The urgency creates the impact to start studying.

According to a study done by Henry L. Roediger, III, and Jeffrey D. Karpicke, from the Washington University, taking memory tests improves long-term memory retention. They found that learners who worked through a practice tests after study sessions did better in their final exams than students who didn’t work through practice tests. They explain that practice tests help learners reduce anxiety, because they feel familiar with writing tests.

ASP School Projects specialises in practise exam papers. Our Exam Papers and Answers assist learners in mastering the technique of writing tests and exams. Our exemplar papers are presented in the same manner, format and difficulty level set by the NCS and is based on CAPS. The questions stimulate left and right brain activity. The following type of questions are included in our papers: Definition of Terms; True or False (Supply the Correct Answer if False); Match Column B to Column A; Diagrams and Sketches; Fill in the Missing Words; Multiple Choice; Short Questions; Long Questions; Crosswords. All subjects per grade are included and subjects are divided into terms.


We hope you have gained valuable information with these 5 Scientifically proven tips to help you prepare for your exam. Let us know which other techniques you use to study for tests and exams. We want to encourage all learners that are currently preparing for exams with the wonderful words of writer, Paulo Coelho, “It’s only those who are persistent and willing to study things deeply, who achieve the master work.”

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