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Week 4

You're about a month in and starting to realize whether or not your classes come easily to you. For some of you, there's now an air of confidence that surrounds you as you conquer the material in each of your classes. For others of us, it's around this time that we realize we may need some help or a redirection of our efforts. It's when we realize looking at a math or physics problem and mumbling to ourselves “oh, yeah, that makes sense…” may not be as effective as a study tactic as we thought.

That's not how you will be tested, so don’t practice that way! Instead of exercising your recognition memory, try working on your recall. Sit down and take a past exam (ideally under a time limit, maybe even with a tapping shoe and a few backup pencils rolling down your exam board) to really get the relevant practice you’ll need exam day. (

  • Another way to exercise your recall memory is to try teaching or tutoring someone else the material. Not only will this test your brain to see how well you can come up with the information (as opposed to recognize it), but it will also help your brain fully understand the concepts behind the numbers and equations. This repetition of actually explaining the material to someone else will help you rationalize the process and will imprint this newfound knowledge and understanding on your brain, which will be quite handy in the exam chair.

As a tutor, I found this is very helpful to use with students as well. Once I thoroughly show how the problems work and the student develops a basic grasp on the material, I have them walk me through the next problem (with guidance) so that they can learn by teaching. It may sound backwards, but I've found students have much higher exam grades when I use this tactic.

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