Studying for an exam, be it an easy or a hard one, isn’t something that we can just easily jump into doing. It takes some planning and some time to get yourself ready, both mentally and physically.
There are realistically 3 main areas to consider when coming up with a good study plan. I have tried different things in all 3 areas, until I found what worked best for me. I would encourage you to read further if you are stuck and looking for some guidance.
One: The Setting
Quality studying takes place when you are in a comfortable space, and when you decide to make time to study. There are no specific rules for setting up your space and time, but here are some considerations:
1. Pick a quiet space that is distraction free
2. Make sure your space is comfortable for you, whether that’s at home, in a cafe, a library, or elsewhere
3. Try to pick somewhere that has sufficient natural light, as it is less stressful on your eyes
4. Try to pick a place that has big flat surfaces for you to work with and move things around
5. Music or noise is fine, but it shouldn’t be louder than your own thoughts
6. Try studying at different times of the day, until you find what works best for you
7. Try not to study past your bedtime - sleep is necessary to properly learn and retain information
Two: The Habit
The key to successful studying is to make it part of your routine - to make it a habit. It is often better to study a little bit each day than to study a lot for one day only. That is because studying each day means that you will naturally approach a point where you are going back and reviewing what you have already learned. By going over what you’ve already learned, you are more likely to memorize the information better.
It goes back to that old saying “practice makes perfect.”
The rest of your routine is just as important, and can indirectly affect your studying as well. For example, studying late at night and past your bedtime could affect how well you learn and retain information. Personally, I don’t recommend it as it hasn’t always worked well for me. Always make sure you are getting enough sleep and exercise, and make sure you are eating a balanced, healthy diet.
Three: The Style
Not everyone learns the same way, and it’s okay if you learn things differently than your friends and family. Some people can learn by listening, and others by seeing. Then there are those who learn by doing. Try out some of these techniques until you’ve found the ones that work for you:
Discuss your notes with others, like friends or classmates, or even with yourself. Hearing yourself or others talking about what you are learning can increase your understanding of the subject.
Add some flair to your notes. No, this doesn’t mean that you can add doodles to your notes. This means using colours or diagrams on key parts of your notes, and to help keep your eyes stimulated to what you’re reviewing.
Games. Yup, you read that right. You can even try turning your learning into a game, riddle, story, or even a role play. Studying and learning don’t need to be boring.
An exam, regardless of its size and difficulty, requires a lot of your focus and time. To make the most out of the time you spend studying, you will want to change a few things about yourself and your surroundings. With enough patience, practice and planning, you will be able to find your preferred way to study for that next exam.
Remember the 3 areas to consider when you’re trying to find the best way to study are:
1. The Setting
2. The Habit
3. The Style
Try different things until you find what works best for you, and what gives you the best results on the exams. Good luck!
Austin helps music students prepare for their music theory exams through interactive studying and intensive practice. If you, your child, or someone you know needs help learning music theory, then please reach out to him today.