Laura Taylor is an avid tea drinker, short story writer, wanderlusty traveler, and loves anything to do with cameras. She grew up in Virginia her whole life and ended up graduating from Virginia Tech with a degree in Communication and Multimedia Journalism. She has interned with NBC and worked for Virginia Tech TV while in college, she was the producer of the on-campus Sketch Comedy show. She is now living outside of DC with her husband while working at CDW (an IT company) and doing freelance photography and professional writing with the rest of her time.
Tests aren’t for you to recount what you’ve learned—they are to show you know how to apply what you’ve learned. Professors don’t necessarily care about how you get prepared for a test, they just want to you to be ready to take the test. Studying is a part of college, even if you were one of those lucky enigmas that never had to study in high school. College is more about application of learned material, graduation is supposed to come with a funny hat and more specialized knowledge to be marketable to employers. High school diplomas were more just to say, “I graduated high school”.
Saying “I’m a bad test taker” is a cop out. What is that really saying?
“I don’t know how to study for the way I learn”
“I don’t pay attention or take notes or really do anything”
Hopefully it’s the first one. Learning how your brain processes information is the most important thing you can learn in school. Your learning style follows you for life, and knowing how you learn will help you in your career.
Learning isn’t a “one size fits all” notion. Everyone’s brain is wired differently and that’s ok. Being aware of that gives a leg up on those who surrender to the myth of “I’m not a good test-taker”.
A few types of learners out there:
These are the people that need to see pictures, movies, or remember important information through their photographic memories. Textbooks with pictures are a good friend, but these folks might also have a very imaginative mind, so words often form images in their heads.
A few study ideas:
Writing flash cards and drawing little doodles on them can help you remember. It sounds silly, but the ridiculous images will make you remember what you were thinking when you were making the flashcard.
These are the guys that were able to coast through high school. The teacher gives a 30-minute lecture and they know who Robert Frost was, when he was born, and what his mother’s maiden name was. It never made sense to anyone else, but it seemed like magic straight out of Hogwarts.
Though, the only issue with this type of learning in college is that you can’t just rely on what the professor says. Coasting is a lot harder to do in college—might be able to work magic your first semester of freshman year, but after that you won’t feel like the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air without studying.
A few study ideas:
Record yourself talking through the study matter, use word association to remember necessary information. The more you say aloud, the better. Reading aloud is one of your most useful studying tools, so group studying can be your best friend. Though, don’t form groups with your best buddies, because we all know what is truly going to go down in those “study groups”.
This is the person that needs to take breaks while studying. Their brains need “noise” to study. Loud music or Netflix is on in the background while studying in short blocks of time. These people have to work through interaction, whether that be with other people or just working with their own hands.
A few study ideas:
Do a little bit of reading with relaxing music on, try classical or jazz, and then take a break. Breaks to go to the gym or to go on a walk with the dog are a great way to break up the time, and it keeps the blood pumping.
Plus, working in a group and talking about the subject matter can help when trying to understand new concepts and remembering them. As you become more comfortable, teaching others helps solidify the subject matter.
Once you know which learning style you have, don’t allow yourself any excuses to not study correctly. It might take a little more time, but in the end you’ll find more success. The more you know about yourself, the more you can learn.