Science & Technology

The Science of Studying

By Alyssa Garufi and Hannah Lee

Volume 2 Issue 6

April 14, 2022

The Science of Studying

Image provided by IStockPhoto

Dear VSN students,  How do you study? With APs, regents, and finals coming up, it is important to master your studying technique to achieve higher grades on your assessments. Reading over notes and class materials repeatedly seems to be the first scenario that comes to mind when you hear the word “study.” However, according to scientific studies, this repetitive action of rereading notes and drilling random information into our brains tends to “go in one ear and out the other." Science shows us that our brains work best when we truly understand the topic rather than simply memorizing information that does not logically make sense to us. The way we can optimize the capabilities of our minds is through - just like learning how to ride a bike - trial and error. The more we challenge and quiz our brains, the better prepared our brains will be. 

Chances are you have been taught that studying through repetition works, right? Wrong. One of the biggest misconceptions in students is that repetition is a valuable way of studying. However, scientists have found that repetition is not as effective as we have been led to believe. In fact, Ed DeLosh, an associate professor at Colorado State University, has found that “might be the worst [method] compared to a variety of strategies you might use.” In addition, we have also been taught to stick to our learning style and not stray from what works best. Turns out that is false as well. It may be better for us to deviate from our usual methods and try out new strategies. According to DeLosh, struggling while learning “actually has benefits for long-term learning.”

One such strategy that has been scientifically proven effective is quizzing yourself. Typically, we perceive quizzes and tests as methods to evaluate the progress of a student from the beginning of the year. However, DeLosh’s research shows that “quizzing is actually among the best ways to prime the brain to remember material in the future.” In DeLosh’s class, students take quizzes on a weekly basis - but don’t be alarmed. These quizzes aren’t meant to place pressure on students in terms of grades. In fact, every quiz is open-book and students tend to do well on all of them. Each quiz tests a similar concept but has variations of questions. By answering varying questions on the same topic, students learn to master the concepts that DeLosh quizzes them on. Not only does this help his pupils learn the material, but it also gives them good grades and helps them study periodically rather than cramming everything at the end of the year. In the end, his students were very successful in mastering the course. DeLosh’s study shows us that quizzing is, in fact, a highly effective method of studying for tests. So, the next time you are studying for a big exam, gather a couple of your friends and quiz each other on the topics.

While quizzing strategies help optimize the capabilities of our brain, without the motivation to take on quizzes, the information present will be of little help to most of us. You must strive to not only take on the best studying strategies, but consider strategies that are best for you! A “perfect” studying schedule is different for each individual and it is important to try different methods of studying to find which works best and gives you the most motivation. Joshua Robinson, a Wall Street Journal reporter, states that listening to music while studying does aid your memory and improve attention, allowing you to grasp the information more. The next time you are not motivated to sit down and take practice tests, listen to your favorite song, and use it to make studying a bit less intimidating. If music is too distracting to you, try to find a change of scenery instead. Sometimes sitting alone in your room trying to study leads to distractions. Instead, bring your books outside, or to a library, or even just another room in your house. According to Cory Stieg, a Health and Wellness reporter from Make It, changing settings while studying can boost your overall wellbeing and mood, allowing you to do better on exams. 

Now you know you can study effectively. You have hopefully learned a handful of new and effective studying strategies for your upcoming test, so go out and try to use some of these methods! With a ton of tests coming up, implementing these studying strategies may help you improve a lot. Remember, do not stress yourself out too much over tests and exams. You’ve got this!  Best of luck,  Hannah and Alyssa