The moodle tests give you a structure by which you can succeed if you do it.

Things guaranteed to work:

Active studying: rewrite the notes in your own words so it makes sense to you; flash cards; drawing pictures on a blank sheet of paper without your notes; explaining it to someone else. In other words, owning the material any way that works for you.

Doing the moodle tests to see where you are weak and then going back to the notes to reinforce those areas with active study.

Taking the moodle tests, then studying, then going back to the moodle tests until you are getting 80’s on the randomly generated tests.

Studying the notes BEFORE you have that class. Then getting that down solid BEFORE the next class.

Things guaranteed not to work:                                             

Reviewing your notes over and over without doing anything with the material. Passive studying is guaranteed fail.         

Looking at moodle tests without doing them. Hard to believe but some students do this and then amazingly, incredibly, they don’t do very well.                   

Failing the moodle tests and not going back.                      

Cramming right before an exam.                                            

Also, big data reveals that people who engage in social media while studying do not do well and the more they are on their phones, the worse they do. People think they can multitask but what actually happens is you switch attention back and forth. When you study a topic, it takes time – uninterrupted time –  to sink in. Say you are studying the muscles of the shoulder: All that info is in the cloud  –  the brain cloud we call short term memory. It’s an unstable place that’s always changing. If you keep at it those muscles will end up in long term memory and you will always have them. But PING, oh cool, look what your friend just instagrammed. Their dinner.

In order to process that your short term memory just dumped everything you were doing. You think you covered it, but it never made it into long term memory. If you are struggling, the best thing you can do is turn your phones OFF.

Big data and multitasking

In another study, students playing video games after study did much worse than students who did not. The action of the games pushed the material they were studying right out. Studied material needs time to sink in.

The other big thing is sleep. College students who slept 8 hours for the five nights of final week (as measured by wrist bracelets) did better than students who did not. Also, sleep is needed for memory consolidation. When you study you don’t really know it until the next day. Cramming before an exam really doesn’t work.

8 hour sleep challenge

Test taking skills count. You can save a lot of points, often the difference between passing and failing, by a systemized approach to questions. Read the “Stem” of the question (the question part) and DON’T look at the answers. Close your eyes. Take a breath. Think. What is the question? Be sure you understand the question. Then try to think of the answer.

If you can’t think of the answer, then look at the choices and approach it by process of elimination. Often two of the choices won’t make any sense, so even if you don’t know the answer you’ve narrowed it down to two. Then it is generally a good approach to make you best guess and move on. Hanging on a question for ten minutes doesn’t solve anything.

Changing answers is generally frowned on. However, it’s not black and white. If answering another question sparks a memory for a previous question, then it is ok.  Also keep track of your own record. Some people do change answers successfully more often than not. If you are one of those then maybe it is ok.

Lastly, if you are getting frazzled, stop. Close your eyes. Take five slow deep breaths making sure the exhale is nice and long. Try it now. It takes less than a minute and it is great for calming a person down.