Some people are naturally good at studying for a big test or exam — others, not so much. The ability to study, and retain information in the process, is definitely something that you can train yourself to get better at, and if you're capable of thinking outside the box, it's good to know that there are plenty of creative ways to study that will help you excel academically.
Techniques on how to study are often quite personal. Not everyone learns the same way, and as far as studying goes, there's really no "right" and "wrong" way — what works for one person might not work for you. But it's important to figure out a way that makes the process both fun and educational. There's a good chance that you have many years of studying ahead of you, so before this school year starts to get super hectic, it'd be great to nail down a routine to ensure a solid, easy semester.
By the way, yes — I said fun and educational. Studying can definitely be fun — probably not in an "I'm going on vacation" way, but at least in an "I don't want to die after doing this task" kind of way. Still don't believe me? Peruse over these creative study methods, and see if you can turn your study habits around.
1. Turn those facts into songs
There's a reason why Schoolhouse Rock! was such a successful program — it turned facts about pretty important topics, like science and the government, into little jingles that kids could remember. And there's a reason why, as adults, we can still recite most of the lyrics to "I'm Just A Bill." Take your coursework, and try to do the same thing. It might sound silly, but it can definitely be effective. Think about how many song lyrics you've retained in general, and how quickly you can belt out "Shoop" by Salt N Pepa at the drop of a hat, even if it's been years since you heard the song. While you're taking your test, you can recite your brand new study song in your head, and realize how much you remember.
2. Spend time decorating your flashcards, and use a few illustrations
Flashcards are an amazing study tool. The problem is, some people learn things better visually. If you flake on road names but definitely know landmarks while traveling, you probably fit into this group. So, drawing pictures to help you remember key facts will truly go a long way. Also, adding some flair to your flashcards will make the process a bit more relaxed. Coloring will help ease overall tension, so it'll put you in a good place before getting down to the nitty gritty.
3. Read your textbook as you would a play
Reading textbooks in general can be a bit boring. And even if you've broken out your best highlighters to identify the important facts (I mean, that book was $75 at the school store, so you might as well mark it up), it might not be a huge help when looking back to identify the quiz-worthy material. Know what'd make it more fun? Reading it out loud, dramatically, like you would a play. Cast yourself as the narrator, and recite your "parts." (Note: It'd probably be best to do this while your roommates are out, unless they want to participate, as well. With textbook readings, there's more than enough parts to go around.)
4. Turn your material into celebrity gossip
You know for a fact if Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck are currently on or off, but you don't remember what part of the brain is the thalamus, and which is the hypothalamus. Humanize your facts a bit, and figure out a way to make them stick. Even a cue like, "The thalamus got over the hypothalamus since he's a bigger person" will help with both size and location. If you have trouble memorizing science, hey — just turn it into something you have no trouble remembering.
5. Make a game out of studying
Everyone likes games, so if you're studying in a big group, try to figure out how to turn the study session into something you can all have fun with. Even if you break out Monopoly, and turn it into a way that'll help you learn, it'll be way better than staring at a book for hours on end. Here's one idea — every time someone lands on your property, they'll have to answer a fact about the subject matter. If they get it right, they can keep their money. If they get it wrong, they'll have to pay up.
6. Treat yourself to creative breaks
No matter what, you'll need a break every once in awhile. Even taking a walk outside will help you get some fresh air, and clear your mind. If you've got a heavy night of studying ahead, try to reward yourself with something you'd prefer to do. Say, every half hour, you put away the textbook and read a chapter of your favorite book. Or, for every 45 minutes, you're allowed to browse the internet and goof around. Knowing that you can have some "you time" and still get some studying done definitely makes your night look more appealing.
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