How to study for exams - Evidence-based revision tips

How to study for exams - Evidence-based revision tips

1. Popular but inefficient technique #1 - Rereading (00:01:29)

  • Rereading is a common revision technique among students.
  • Studies indicate that rereading has low utility in terms of exam preparation strategy.
  • Compared to other techniques, rereading is less effective.
  • Professor John Dunlosky rated rereading as having low utility based on extensive research.

2. Popular but inefficient technique #2 - Highlighting (00:03:29)

  • Highlighting is very popular but mostly ineffective.
  • Evidence suggests it has low utility and can hinder performance on tasks requiring inference making.
  • Highlighting could be useful if students know how to use it effectively.
  • It is often used despite its proven limited effectiveness.

3. Popular but inefficient technique #3 - Summarising (00:04:51)

  • Summarising is widely used but the evidence of its effectiveness is mixed.
  • It may be beneficial for those already skilled at summarising but is otherwise of low utility.
  • Most learners need extensive training to summarise effectively, reducing its feasibility.
  • In comparison to other techniques, summarising is not the most efficient.

4. Active Recall, and the evidence behind why it's the most effective revision strategy (00:06:42)

  • Active Recall or practice testing is highly effective and has high utility.
  • The technique involves retrieving facts from memory, which strengthens neural connections.
  • Professor Dunlosky's review paper endorses practice testing as a form of revision with significant positive impact.
  • It's recommended to implement Active Recall in study routines for efficiency.

5. Study #1 - Spitzer 1939 (00:09:18) & 6. Study #2 - Butler 2010 (00:10:22)

  • A study from 1939 showed that practice testing led to a 10-15% improvement in student scores.
  • A 2010 study found that practice testing yielded up to a 30% improvement in exam scores over re-studying material using common techniques like rereading, highlighting, and summarising.
  • Both studies support the effectiveness of practice testing over traditional study methods.

7..Study #3 - Karpicke & Blunt 2011 (00:11:16)

  • Conducted with students split into four groups to study material and test a week later.
  • Group 1 studied the text once, Group 2 four times, Group 3 created a mind map after one study, Group 4 practiced recalling as much as possible after one study.
  • On verbatim questions, Group 4 (active recall) performed significantly better than Group 2 (studied four times).
  • On inference questions, Group 4 also performed the best, indicating active recall's effectiveness over repeated study.
  • Before the experiment, students predicted that repeated study would be most effective, showing a mismatch between intuition and evidence.
  • The evidence suggests active recall is more efficient than strategies like repeated reading.

8..Specific, practical strategies for incorporating Active Recall into your revision / study routine. (00:13:41)

9..Strategy #1 - Anki flashcards (00:14:19)

  • Anki is advocated for memorizing facts; ratings of easy, medium, or hard determine when cards will reappear.
  • Users can use Anki to memorize specific details, facts, or essays for exams.
  • Anki's algorithm adapts over time and assists with spaced repetition for efficient studying.
  • The app is free, and there's an optional paid iOS version.

10..Strategy #2 - Closed-book spider diagrams (00:16:07)

  • The technique involves writing down everything remembered about a topic after studying, without the book open.
  • After creating a spider diagram from memory, the book is reopened to identify any missing information.
  • This method of active recall, combined with spaced repetition, led to excellent exam performance.

11..Strategy #3 - Questions instead of notes, the Cornell note-taking system (00:17:33)

  • A shift from note-taking to writing questions that prompt active recall of lecture or textbook material.
  • The question-based revision technique is said to be effective in enhancing memory and understanding.
  • One anecdote cites a student who succeeded in exams by solely revising through self-written questions.

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