This isn’t a secret - but there are studies that show that when you distribute your studies throughout a period of time, the retention is higher. This is similar to the studies regarding summer learning loss, a phenomena many are familiar with.
Create a schedule.
This is taking the prior note a step further. Take the time to plan and strategize for when you’ll do homework, study, take additional notes, and review other materials. Since we know that cramming doesn’t work, plan for spurts throughout the week to study. Many studies show that finding the same space and similar times during the day to study have shown better results. In this section, I’d also include finding a space in which you’re able to consistently focus for long periods of time (such as quiet room at a library or noise cancelling headphones).
Once you do sit down to study, it needs to be productive and likely more thorough than in the past with courses that may have come more easily to you. There are several ideas to experiment with around this.
Try reading summaries of text before reading the entire section
- Take notes while you read to keep for studying during a later session
- Compile notes from different areas of learning (practice exams, study sessions, book, lecture), this can serve as a good exercise to review, but also as aggregated notes to use in later study sessions or exams (like a final)
- Synthesize and summarize each section of material in your own words
Practice the same questions that will show up on exams.
Although it seems obvious, most students actually don’t do this. Creating flashcards and practice tests for a study buddy are a good way to practice this method. In many challenge courses in college will include exam questions in which students have never seen before, having a study buddy to stretch your understanding of the material through inventive practice questions will be helpful in exploring material that you may not have yet spent much time or depth in.
Known when you need help.
Learn to get a good feeling of when you’re falling behind or not grasping the material as thoroughly as you hope (or an exam shows). When a course moves quicker and with more depth, it can be easy to fall behind. And since material can oftentimes be cumulative, it’s best to stay ahead of the game! There are several options for high school or college courses to start off with such as joining a study group, finding a peer tutor (many high schools and colleges have this set up already), attending office hours, scheduling time with the teacher for additional support, and of course, tutoring.
Get enough sleep.