Dis­trac­tions big bar­rier to ace­ing ex­ams


Here’s a pop quiz: What foods are best be­fore an exam? When should you tackle the tough­est ma­te­rial?

Most students are ca­pa­ble of achiev­ing top marks if they do the right things, but why are so many students still fail­ing? A grow­ing body of re­search on the best study tech­niques out­lines some im­por­tant tips dur­ing this exam sea­son.

When it is time to study, make sure you are ac­tu­ally study­ing. Too many students try to study with JayZ pour­ing from an iPod. But dis­trac­tions do not help.

Ac­cord­ing to Clif­ford Nass, a Stan­ford Univer­sity pro­fes­sor, song lyrics are pro­cessed in the same part of the hu­man brain that does word pro­cess­ing. Back­ground TV, tex­ting or call­ing friends have the same ef­fect.

Some­thing has to give and, more of­ten than not, it is the not- soin­t­er­est­ing study that gets pushed out of the way.

When try­ing to put as much in­for­ma­tion as pos­si­ble into your head, rep­e­ti­tion is the mother all of learn­ing. With­out rep­e­ti­tion, we are only likely to re­mem­ber about 20 per cent of the in­for­ma­tion we re­ceive, even if we un­der­stood ev­ery­thing at the time.

But is all rep­e­ti­tion equal? No. Learn­ing is at a max­i­mum when rep­e­ti­tion is spaced out.

Re­peat­ing in­for­ma­tion within one hour, then a day later, then a week later has the great­est ef­fect on en­hanc­ing the con­nec­tions be­tween re­gions of the brain de­voted to mem­ory. When spaced rep­e­ti­tion is prac­ticed, par­tic­i­pants re­tain 90-95 per cent of in­for­ma­tion.

Fi­nally, use good re­sources to help you. Re­sources are de­signed to make study sim­pler.

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