1. Limit your distractions that compete with your studying

You’re unlikely to get an immediate positive reinforcement from studying but there are many other things that will give you that immediate reinforcement and they all compete with your studying (t.v., phone, video games, facebook, going to parties etc).

Your best bet is to try to limit any opportunities to be tempted. Turn off your phone instead of having to resist picking up when a friend calls. It is a lot easier to not get tempted in the first place then to have to say “No” to every distraction that comes around.

Try to instead reward yourself with activities once your reach some sort of short term goal. For example, after reading a few chapter tell yourself that you will then watch your favorite TV show but not before that point.

2. Give yourself structure

Most people when given the chance will put off doing things that are unpleasant. That your’re going to put off writing that term paper or studying for that test until the last minute. You’re probably keeping up in the class that has small quizzes every week but might be falling behind in the class that has one large test at the end.

You should schedule time for studying and for reviewing your work. One tip for making sure you don’t flake on your studying commitments is to schedule study times in groups. You’re probably less likely to not commit to a study time if you know there are other people counting on you to study with them.

3. Be an active studier

The more you manipulate the information you are studying the more likely you are to remember it. So highlight what you read that you think is important, make lists, create graphs and test yourself. If you need to remember a structure (like the parts of a human brain) draw it out and label it. Remember you need to “experience” the information that you’re trying to remember as much as possible.  Being active with your studying will also keep you from getting bored.

4. Flash Cards

Sometimes it’s about straight memorization. During those times you need flash cards. Enough said.

5.  Be physically prepared to take the test

Get a good night’s sleep. While cramming all night may seem like a good idea, it’s not. If you’re groggy and tired you won’t be alert for the test and you won’t be able to recall the information.  Sleeping supports memory. There are basically three stages of memory: 1) Acquisition 2) Consolidation and 3) Retrieval.  Guess which stage sleep helps support? I’ll give you a hint: it’s not acquisition. Sleep helps support the consolidation stage of memory. So get enough rest before the exam.