Brain Scientists Create Tips So You Can Ace Your Final Exams

Final Exam Photo: CC BY 2.0

Photo Credit: Al Ibrahim CC BY 2.0

Before you get to go home, party, chill, hang out with your family friends or whatever, you first have to get through those dreaded final exams for the fall semester.

It is better to think things through, stay rested, prepared and focused for the exams.

Think about it. What’s the point of all of the studying, if you are just going to stress about how terrible you did during your time off? There’s plenty you can do to make sure you do as best as you can on your midsemester finals. There are basics like properly maintaining a schedule and eating and resting a lot.
If you prefer a more scientific approach to studying as opposed to cramming, or rereading the same chapters over and over take a look at these tips below. The information was developed by some of the world’s leading brain scientists. The tips are the result of a two-day summit the company hosted in Boulder, Colorado a few months ago.
The summit was hosted by a company called amplifire. They claim their patented system teaches students how to “store” and “retrieve” new information from memory. Check out these five tips that just might help you have a great holiday vacation and get good grades.


Light BulbIs this a test?

Retrieval practice sometimes called “self testing,” strengthens the “retrieval pathway” to the information. Retrieved memories are remembered with greater strength than items that go un-retrieved. Two easy ways that students can leverage this insight are by taking quizzes throughout their study process, self-testing via flashcards or finding a study partner and take turns testing one another.


Light BulbTake your time

Spacing study sessions over days or weeks improves long-term retention. Reviewing information repeatedly (e.g., re-reading) in a condensed period of time (e.g., cramming for a test) results in poor retention rates. But seeing something again after the passage of time tells the brain, “this information must be important… remember it!”
The research also reveals that the optimal study interval to test interval breaks down in the following practical manner:

a. For 7 days to the test, restudy after 2 days
b. For 35 days, restudy after 7 days
c. For 70 days, restudy after 10 days

Spacing researchers have demonstrated a 110% gain in recall that can be achieved in some cases when the proper intervals are followed.


Light BulbAre you sure?

Uncertainty in the accuracy of one’s information causes levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine to rise, thereby motivating the brain to seek the correct answer. To cause uncertainty, a student cannot sit passively in a lecture or merely read the material. They must actively engage with the information to find and fix the gaps in their knowledge. Asking themselves how sure they are about each concept before they review correct answers and randomizing the order of study materials are just two ways students can leverage the power of uncertainty in their study sessions.


Light BulbLocation, Location, Location

The context or environment in which a student studies, has a dramatic effect on memory. The mind subconsciously associates cues from the environment with the learning content and uses these cues as a crutch to remember the information.
If the testing environment is different from the study environment, students will have more difficulty remembering what they studied.
Context changes – studying in 5 to 6 different locations, for example – have been shown to help avoid this problem, so students should mix it up when it comes to study location.


Light BulbPrime your mind

Answering a series of questions about the learning content prior to the study session focuses the brain and creates a mental framework that will help the mind more easily learn the information to be studied. Students should take some time to conduct this pre-study prep before they dig into their full study review.