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Are you ready to enjoy college more and Ace every test? This 8-part strategy takes you from what to do in class to the mental preparation required the morning of your test.

This study hack is based on over 500 research-based studies on how the brain forms memories and creates strong recall pathways required for A-level test performance. And best of all, it reduces overall study time and stress when compared to the way most students study.

In just 8 days, this strategy will demonstrate how to use four components of effective test performance. If you don’t have 8 days, not to worry, you can still use these four components to improve test performance:

Active
listening

in class, which is the most
effective way to store
information and skills in
memory.

Smart
Notes

that are easily converted
into study material.

Intelligent
Recall Practice

which moves the
information into long-term
memory and creates robust
recall pathways, so it is easy
to recall and use the
information to answer test
questions.

Emotional
Control

to aid test prep,
especially on exam
day.

Lecture

  • Take Effective Notes in Class!
  • Ask yourself questions. Active listening during the lecture involves constantly asking yourself questions about what the professor is teaching. Questions help your brain record the memories with hooks that make the memories easier to recall.
  • Record the lecture. Active listening and taking verbatim notes is impossible, which is why you need to record your lecture so you have an instant reference for anything you missed. The truth is that even excellent note-takers miss 25% of the important points in the first 15 minutes of a lecture which drops to 50% after 15 minutes.
  • Take smart notes. Smart notes have two simple components:
  • Write questions corresponding to keywords or whenever the professor mentions that something is important. Be sure to make a timestamp note of that on the recording. (EXAMPLE: 2:40 Golgi bodies are important, why?….4:12 explanation on DNA replication, what is it? Why is it important?)

    Psst…timestamps are automated if you are using Blast Study to record, take notes, and transcribe the lecture.

  • Make note of eureka moments! When you have a eureka moment, where you suddenly understand something or can relate it to another thing, make note of what triggered that moment.(“Wow, DNA replication is just like waiting in line for my morning coffee.”)

  • Go to sleep. Yes, really, go to sleep. You don’t need to look at your notes for 6 hours,
    but ideally after one night of sleep.

Study

  • Review notes & answer questions. After you have slept one night (or waited at least a minimum of 6 hours
    after class), answer the questions you wrote in your notes, and review your eureka moments. This is your first
    and most important quizzing day, so try to answer the
    questions without help.
  • If you don’t know an answer, review that part of the recording based on the timestamp to refresh your memory and find the answer.

    Psst…If you are using Blast Study, the relevant component of the recording & transcript is tagged to each question & eureka moment in your notes.

    • Make flashcards. Make flashcards from the questions you wrote in your notes.

      Psst…Question creation is automated if you are using Blast Study.

 
    • Write explanations. If you have enough time, write a quick explanation under your answer. (For instance, why is this the answer and not something else). Writing explanations will jog your memory of that part of the lecture and help reinforce your knowledge.
 
    • Go study something else for an hour. Strange, we know, but this actually helps with memorization! Brain and learning researchers call this interleaving. Interleaving is studying something else to purposefully fill your conscious thinking and short-term memory with another academic topic.
 
    • Go over your flashcards one more time. When you return from interleaving, go through the flashcards one more time. It will be much more difficult to answer the flashcard questions – which is a good thing! Increased effort to recall a memory is a force multiplier when it comes to forming strong, durable memories.
 
  • Now go to sleep. Get at least one night of sleep before your next study day. Skipping a study day and getting two nights of sleep is even better!

Study

  • Create a FOCUS BLOCK where you will not be interrupted.
    • Do not disturb. Tell your friends not to bother you and put your cell phone away. You can wear a yellow hat (or something easily distinguishable) to let your roommates know you are in a focus block.
 
    • Establish a study time limit. Focus blocks tend to work best when they are 25 minutes of studying with a 5-minute break or 50 minutes of studying with a 10-minute break.Experiment to find the best focus block length for you and use it for all your studying.
 
  • Study in a study group. Form a study group with other students, where you all agree to study at the same time to hold each other accountable. If you cannot study in person, start a web meeting, turn on webcams, and mute your mics to not get distracted.

    Psst…Blast study has a study group function for forming groups and sharing study material. The Blast study groups can also be used for setting up group focus block study times..

  • Review the flashcards using this method:

  • Go through and answer all the questions one time only.

  • Separate the questions into DECK 1 (the ones you got right) and DECK 2 (the ones you got wrong).

  • Use the interleaving process (wait 30 minutes to 1 hr) and then answer the questions in both decks.

  • If you are pressed for time, just answer the questions in DECK 2 (the ones you got wrong).

  • Go to sleep. Skip at least two days before starting your Day 4 study routine.

Study

    • Pull out your questions and go through DECK 1 and DECK 2

    • Deck 1

      • If you get an answer right from DECK 1, leave it in DECK 1

      • If you get an answer wrong from DECK 1, move it to DECK 2
    • Deck 2

      • If you get an answer wrong from DECK 2, leave it in DECK 2

      • If you get an answer right from DECK 2, we will move it to a new deck, DECK 3
    • Now you have 3 Decks: DECK 1 (consistently get right), DECK 2 (consistently get wrong), and DECK 3 (you got it right on the last try, but wrong before)

    • Use the interleaving process and then answer the questions in DECK 2 and DECK 3. If you are pressed for time, just answer the questions in DECK 2.

    • Go to sleep. Wait 3 or more Days before reviewing again.

      • The reason for skipping days is that hundreds of research studies show that students who study on three non-sequential days, with an increased number of skipped days between each study day, form stronger long-term memories and do much better on tests than students who study on 3 sequential days.

– Think of it as trying to get to Chicago from LA.

– If you are in LA and your memory is in Chicago, then you need to take a road to get to Chicago. This road is your neuron pathway from the conscious thinking part of your brain (LA) to the part of your brain where your memory is stored (Chicago).

– Initially, there is only one narrow dirt pathway between LA and Chicago that can be quickly blown away by the mental wind of other studies and thoughts. Using Active Listening during a lecture creates hooks that help pave the dirt pathway, making it harder to blow away. But even so, the paved road is easily overgrown by other memories that make it difficult to recall the memory.

– Studying using questions makes the pathway wider, so it takes longer to overgrow. However, the magic happens with spacing and interleaving which creates dozens of roads, highways, bridges, and interstates to the memory so you will not forget it as easily!

Psst…spacing and interleaving is automated and personalized to you in Blast Study!

Study

    • Answer the questions in DECKS 2 and 3.

        • If you get a DECK 2 question correct, move it to DECK 3.If you get it wrong, leave it in DECK 2.

        • If you get a DECK 3 question correct, move it to DECK 1.If you get a DECK 3 question wrong, move it to DECK 2.

    • Use the interleaving process and review DECKS 2 and 3 again.
  • Go to sleep. Put these decks aside and do not look at them again until two days before the exam.

2 Days to the Exam – Smart Cramming

  • Now it is time for Part 1 of the cramming process.

    • Cramming achieves a different purpose from learning and recall practice. Your brain has an amazing way of keeping the most used information in a rapid response state so it can be recalled and used much faster.

    • Cramming places all the previously learned memories into this rapid response state.

  • Emotional Control – Part 1:
  • Pretend that you are taking the actual test.

    • Imagine the room and the desk where you will be sitting.

    • Try to visualize everything about the test environment before you start your practice test.

    • At the same time, notice your emotions. You should be alert and happy because you are doing a good thing preparing for the test and, at the same time, you are not overly stimulated or stressed. You are well-prepared and calm.

    • Dwell on this feeling for at least 30 seconds so you form a strong mental image of your emotional state.

    • If you ever get overly stressed during the actual test, you can calm your emotions by recalling this memory.
  • At this point, you will probably have decks from several lectures that will be covered on the exam. You might also have decks from your reading material.
  • Pull out and combine all of the DECK 1 study decks.

      • Go through all the questions from the compiled DECK 1. This could take an hour or two, depending on how many questions you have.

      • You will be splitting the questions up into two decks. Deck A is for the questions you answered correctly. Deck B is for the questions you got wrong.

      • Use the interleaving process.

      • After interleaving, quiz yourself again on the questions in Deck B

  • If you still have study time available, get a head start on tomorrow’s study time by repeating this process with all of your DECK 2s.

    Psst…If you are using Blast, the system lets you combine study questions from different lectures and readings into one large test prep group and then uses the best cramming method along with AI to personalize the method to your needs.

1 Day to the exam

    • The exam is tomorrow. It is time for Part 2 of the cramming process.
 
    • Practice the Emotional Control strategy from part 1
 
  • Work in FOCUS BLOCKs where you will not be interrupted.
      • Make each focus block the same length as the actual exam.
     

  • Pull out your DECK 2s and DECK 3s
    • Go through all the questions from the decks. This could take an hour or two, depending on how many questions you have.
 
    • You will be splitting the questions up in the way you have before, but this time it is accelerated.
 
  • DECK A

– If you get it right, then put it in this deck

  • DECK B

– If you get it wrong, then put it in this deck

  • WAIT ONE HOUR
  • Do something else for one hour. You can study another class or relax.

  • When the hour is up, go through the two decks again and separate them into the three piles

    • DECK A – what you repeatedly get right

    • DECK B – what you repeatedly miss

    • DECK C – what you missed the last time but got right this time.

      • Moving forward, if you answer a question from DECK C correctly, move it to DECK A. If you get it wrong, move it to DECK B.

  • Put DECK A away. This deck is now the archived deck. You will not look at it again today.
  • WAIT ONE HOUR

    • Study for another exam or relax. The goal is to take your mind off of what you were just studying.

    • When the hour is up, go through DECK B only. Put the questions you got right into DECK C and leave the questions you got wrong in DECK B.

EXAM DAY

  • Morning of the quiz or test

    • Go through DECKS B and C from yesterday

    • If you get an answer right, put it in DECK A

    • If you get any answer wrong, put it in DECK B

    • One hour before the quiz or test
    • Review DECK B so these questions are in a rapid-response state for quick recall for the exam! (i.e. you are pulling Chicago closer to you!)
    • This is the one time that you should not do interleaving. So do not study anything or have discussions with anyone that test your mind because the information you worked so hard to learn is right at the front of your mind, ready to be used! But if you try to learn something new, this information will be sent farther away or scrambled. And you do not want that right before the exam. So, it may seem rude, but try to avoid deep conversations or challenging mental tasks right before the test.
    • Maintain a calm, emotionally upbeat mentality, and practice easy breathing to stay calm.
    • Take the exam. You are well-prepared and will do great!

    • Next, you can check out How to Control Your focus and Emotions During A Test to help manage test anxiety and reach a peak performance level, which is part 2 of the Emotional Control Strategy.

We hope you use this process to ace every test, get more
out of your college experience, and have a better life.

For more information, visit www.BlastStudy.com

Happy Studying, Happy Living!
The Team at Blast Study

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