There's no magic to studying. You learn it or you don't. You pass the test or you don't. While there's no magic, you do have options, all of which work.
Tired of the same-old, same-old sitting at your desk, reading and re-writing your notes? Not getting the most out of those flashcards?
While these tried-and-true study methods work well, sometimes you just need to spice it up a bit. Take a look at these eight study strategies that will get you and your brain moving:
Get your School House Rock on and sing your heart out. Turn those notes into songs. Pick your favorite tune and rewrite the lyrics with your study notes.
This strategy works really well for memorizing scientific and mathematical formulas. Math and music have a scientific connection--two sides of the same coin.
Even better? Memorize it and sing to yourself during your exams. You'll do better than you think.
2. Get hypnotized
Hypnosis can boost your GPA. Note: only do this with an expert.
Hypnosis syncs your conscious and your unconscious. When you do that, experts say you can retain and report information six times faster than you would ordinarily just by sitting at your desk.
You are getting sleepy...
3. Eat sushi
The connection between raw fish and learning seems self-serving at best, but believe it or not, eating sushi can boost your brain power.
A 2014 article in The Atlantic suggests that eating raw fish once a week can make your brain power more robust. Not a fan of sashimi? The article reports on a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine that found that "eating fish—baked or broiled, never fried—is associated with larger gray matter volumes in brain areas responsible for memory and cognition in healthy elderly people."
One of the study's authors, Dr. Cyrus Raji at UCLA said, "If you eat fish just once a week, your hippocampus—the big memory and learning center—is 14 percent larger than in people who don't eat fish that frequently. 14 percent. That has implications for reducing Alzheimer's risk."
It's all those omega-3 fatty acids.
Sushi counts. Dip that nigiri in your wasabi and ace that test.
4. Watch YouTube
Not just any YouTube. Good YouTube.
Sometimes, all you need is someone else to explain something to you. Look for channels that have educational videos on your subject area. Not having much luck? Make your searches more specific.
Check out Total Philosophy, Ted Talks and, the Big History Project to start. Just beware of political interest groups that masquerade as educational channels. Not sure if a source or site is legit? Use these tips to suss out biased, fake and malicious sources.
5. Create a learning context
Simulate your testing environment. Is your test happening in a specific classroom? See if you can study in there. Online exam? Set up your desk as you would for the exam.
Is there a certain smell that you like? Make sure you can smell it while you're studying, even if it means splurging on some candles.
Bottom line? Create a context that will be positive for your learning, that simulates your exam, and one that will allow you to literally put yourself in the place and mindset of that exam.
Meditation's good for lots of things, including studying. Before embarking on your three-hour study session, give yourself three healthy minutes of "om." Meditation reduces anxiety, increases your ability to focus, and boosts your attention span.
If you can, give yourself a few minutes of meditation on exam day, too. Need some help to take your mediation on the go - look for a meditation app to help you reach your zen.
Get theatrical. Read your texts and your notes in theatrical voices. If you're in a study group, assign roles. Rewrite your notes in play form and stage a scintillating production of Organic Chemistry.
Have fun with it, but don't get too over the top. Remember: you still have to learn this stuff.
Want to go it alone? Read your notes aloud in funny voices. If nothing else, you'll laugh.
Music beats stress. It always does. If you're the kinesthetic type, put your notes to music and dance them out. Just don't dance in the middle of your exam.
Even better? Combine #1 and #8 for a study ensemble. You'll entertain yourself, learn your stuff, and ace that test!
Even better - your study dance could be the start of a fantastic funding opportunity.
However you study, allow yourself some leeway to have fun, get creative, and learn. That's what it's all about.