When you’ve got an upcoming test or quiz approaching, how do you study? Teachers and parents often tell students that they need to study in order to prepare, but actual lessons on how to study efficiently are generally short in supply. This can lead to students who did study, but inefficiently, feeling cheated because their extra three hours of reading through notes didn’t improve their latest test score at all. Further chastisement from adults who believe they simply didn’t study enough only serves to sour the outlook on studying more.

Rather than putting the focus on studying more, students need to be taught how to study smarter. Busy schedules and a multitude of subjects makes it more important than ever for students to learn what methods are most effective—and it’s also a valuable skill later in life. Try out these three tips to study smarter next time:

  1. girl studying alone

    Instead of studying alone, get together with a friend or two to go over class material.
    Image: Shutterstock

    Hold a study group. This is not code for “social get-together,” but it can still be fun. Partner up with a friend or two and engage with each other over the material. Talk about points you don’t understand or fully grasp, try out games like charades, or compete to solve the practice exercises.

  2. Play teacher. This can be done alone or in a group. Go through the class materials with a teacher’s eye and try to decide what you would put on the test if you were the teacher. Use past examples of quizzes and tests to go buy, and try to pull out important information. Alternatively, you can also teach the class material to other students in your study group—it’s amazing how much you can learn from teaching others.
  3. Focus on the “big picture,” not every single detail. Even if you have to remember every step in a scientific process, that doesn’t mean you have to memorize them separately. Look at the big picture—what is really going on in said process? Understanding what is happening and why will make remembering the details much easier, and it will also give more meaning to the information you’re absorbing.

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