First of all, you should always eat a nutritious, filling breakfast and get eight-plus hours of sleep — just kidding, I’m not going to tell you a bunch of test-taking tips you already know. (Seriously, how many times have we heard that breakfast line?!?) As strange as these strategies may sound, they’re backed by science… so read on to discover how to revolutionize your studying game.
1. Chew gum.
Bring out the Double Bubble. Chewing gum helps your working memory, which is “the ability to hold on to and manipulate information for short periods of time,” your long-term memory, and your overall cognitive processing speed. In other words, it helps you focus and recall information. So next time you realize you have a ton of things to memorize, get chewing.
2. Study before bed.
A study from 2012 found that sleeping shortly after learning new material significantly improves retention rate. However, if it’s stuff you’re already super familiar with, sleep has no effect, so reserve your pre-snoozing study session for information you’ve barely looked at before.
3. But don’t study in bed.
If you’re in college, you should absolutely stay away from that Twin XL cot when preparing for mid-terms or finals. Better yet, get out of your dorm, since it’s been proven that you’re more productive in an environment with little distractions (like your roommates, cough cough). If you’re in high school, you may have nowhere to study but your room. That’s okay, you can still make it work! Pump up your efficiency by cleaning your desk, putting snacks near-by and using good lighting.
4. Puttin’ on the spritz.
Researchers think that when we spray perfume, it stimulates the region of the brain that deals with memory, learning and motivation. So it definitely can’t hurt to whip out your favorite fragrance and spray away! However, if you want to maximize this trick, studies suggest there are two scents that are especially powerful: peppermint and rosemary.
5. Phone a friend.
You’ve probably heard that you don’t know a concept if you can’t explain it. (We have Albert Einstein to thank for that nugget of wisdom.) Test your comprehension by explaining what you’re studying to a friend, your parents, your siblings — even a wall if you’re desperate! Your loved ones may bemoan the day you enrolled in Soil Science, but that A will be worth their boredom.
6. Write your own tests.
Preparing fake tests for yourself is effective for a variety of reasons. First, testing actually helps you learn more than rereading information. Second, this will get you inside “the mind” of the teacher and what types of questions they’ll probably ask on the real test. Third, it’s like creating a study guide—but one that will show you your weak spots when you go over it.
So what do you think, Prospies, will you use any of these weird-but-I-swear-they-work tactics for your next big exam? Let us know in the comments!