By Kelly Roell
Test Prep Expert
Sometimes you simply can't imagine studying another subject for another minute. You've officially given up and refuse to care anymore. You have taken four final exams already and are looking down the barrel of the shotgun that's going to fire off three more finals any second. How do you progress when the thought of sitting down in front of a pile of books and notes makes you want to scream? How do you move beyond apathy to ensure you get the score you really want on that final or midterm exam?
Here's how: you get creative. The following list encompasses twenty different creative study methods that are sure to help heal you of the study blahs.
Read your chapter aloud…
…as a Shakespearean monologue. And if you really want to make it good, speak the Queen's English. Everything sounds better in the Queen's English.
Try it: The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. Sounds better, right? Right.
…as if you were giving a presidential address. Be sure to have the unmistakable half-fist ready. And I'm sure your professor would be happy to give you extra credit if you record this address and put it on YouTube. I am almost positive I heard her saying that yesterday.
…in a New Jersey accent. Because, when you're here, you're family. Or else.
Play a Game…
…like Jeopardy. Convince a really good friend or really interested parent to give you the answers to questions on your study guide. You must provide the questions. I'll take Potent Potables for six, Alex.
…like Around the World. Remember that? In a small study group, one person faces off against another and moves around the group until someone beats him or her.
Then, that new person moves around the group answering questions. The person who answers the most questions correct gets a Starbucks gift card! Woo hoo!
…little pictures that represent key ideas in your content. It's easier to remember Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs if you draw a banana and a glass of orange juice next to Physiological instead of just trying to remember the word alone.
Trust me on that one.
…the same symbols over and over. Circle the main idea in each section. Draw stars next to supporting details in each section. Underline vocabulary words in each section. Draw arrows from causes to effects in each section. You're honing your reading skills while learning something new. Win-win.
…a storyboard about the chapter. Reading about the rise of FDR (Franklin D. Roosevelt)? Draw a storyboard that reflects his early political career, the months before his inauguration, and FDR's three-pronged strategy to get elected. Your brain will easily remember the sequence of events much better that way because generally, pictures are worth a thousand words.
…a short story placing yourself in the setting you're studying. Let's say you're learning about Elizabethan England. Or the Civil War. Drop yourself right into a scene and write from first person perspective what you see, hear, feel and want more than anything in the world. Just make sure to make it out alive.
…a poem related to your topic. Learning Trig? No sweat. The last I heard sin and cosine rhyme. Plus, not all poems have to rhyme. Go free verse on that math. See how many of those terms you can squeeze into some iambic pentameter.
…a short story following a person that you're learning about. Based on what you've learned about her, what does Mother Teresa do when she discovers a mystery in Kolkata? Incorporate everything you're learning about her into the story. Bonus points if you give the teacher your story for Christmas.
Sing a Song…
…to remember a list. It's truly one of the best ways to remember the Periodic Table of the Elements, although there's no solid reason you should know them cold. Unless, of course, you're a scientist. In which case, you'll be getting a quiz later.
…to get through a particularly tough reading passage. If you sing the passage, it may bring up different phrasing that can help you understand words you may not be getting. Still don't get it? Try one of the summary methods below.
Write a Summary…
…of the 10 key things you must absolutely remember from the passage on sticky notes. Write them in your own words because there's nothing as silly as remembering someone else's ideas when you have no idea what they mean. Summarize in a way you can understand! Then, put the sticky notes up all around your room or kitchen or bathroom. No one else living in your house will mind. I promise.
…of each paragraph in one sentence, starting at the beginning of the chapter. That little summary of the paragraph is probably the main idea. Once you have all of the main ideas of the paragraphs, string them together into one little mini-essay. You will be floored how much more you remember of the chapter when you read this way.
…by turning the chapter headings into questions and then reworking the block of text beneath the chapter headings into answers. Again, use your own words when you write the summaries.
…on apps like Chegg, Evernote or StudyBlue. Many of them will let you add pics and sound, too. Kewl.
…on 3X5 cards like your grandmother used to use. That wasn't an insult. She actually used to use them. And Grandma knew what she was doing, for your information. By mixing up the kinesthetic action of writing with the visual on the card, your brain learns the info in two different ways. Boom!
Teach Someone Else…
…like your mom. You know how she's always asking you what you're doing in school? Now's the chance to explain what you've learned in Molecular Biology. Teach her so she really gets it. If you can't explain it in a way she can understand, better hit the books again.
…like the people in an imaginary audience. Pretend you're standing in front of a group of thousands who have all shown up (and paid top dollar, by the way) to hear you speak about Romeo and Juliet. Explain the details of this tragedy so anyone listening will understand that Benvolio was Romeo's best friend for a reason. Be sure to include the Nurse's role, too.