We've all been there: You're sitting your exams, staring at a question you're confident you know the answer to but for some reason, you just can't find it. You know it's in your head somewhere, you've been studying for days, but no matter how hard you try, you can't think of the answer—even after all of that memorizing. If you're tired of feeling that frustration, there are a few study hacks that you can use to improve your memory and ace your next test. These tricks will have you studying like a pro.
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#1 Draw diagrams and mind maps
One method that has been backed by researchers is mind mapping. The complicated spiderweb-like maps may look daunting, but they're actually pretty easy to make—and the payoff is worth the effort. Visual representation of information is a great way to improve your understanding and memory by organizing information, just make sure you're using all of the right tools. The trick to mind maps is using plenty of color and symbols, which will help you recall key information quickly.
#2 Verbalize it
Did you know that you're 50 percent more likely to remember something if you say it out loud? Rather than just reading to yourself silently, find the keywords and phrases you need to remember for that big exam and say them aloud to yourself. You may look a little silly if you're studying in a cafe or library, but hey, it's worth the A+, isn't it?
#3 Re-write your study material
Because we can type faster than we can write, many of us overlook re-writing—or perhaps even writing at all—our study material. But students who write out their notes actually learn more. A recent study showed that those who write out their notes by hand have a stronger conceptual understanding than those who take notes with their laptops. Basically, because writing out your notes takes such a long time, you tend to digest your notes better and summarize key points. Try it. It works.
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#4 Use flashcards
Flashcards are hands-down the most effective way for students to study and retain factual knowledge, especially when they're used effectively. The trick to good flashcards is simplicity. Don't overcrowd a flashcard with too much information and don't just write down words. Think as simply as possible when creating your own cards. Mix words with images, only include the information you will use on a test and don't use flashcards as your only study material. When used right, you can be sure they'll help you ace a test.
#5 Teach what you have learned
Teaching someone else calls for a complete understanding of the subject. It forces you to present the information in your own words and communicate your thoughts clearly. Studies have found that students enlisted to tutor others recall information more accurately and apply it more effectively. You can't argue with science!