The key to working smarter rather than harder

The key to working smarter rather than harder

Focusing on one thing when students have so much on their plates can be a tremendous task. Tests are a challenge for some and a breeze for others. Whether it comes easy for you or not, test-taking all lies in the preparation rather than the test itself.

I have found that the key to studying is limiting your distractions to little or none at all. Firstly, begin studying in a clean room; when your bedroom is messy, it can cause your thoughts to become discombobulated as well. Sit at a desk or an area designated for homework. Trying to study whilst lying in bed can quickly blur the line between homework time and nap time. I can testify to that effect. Next, leave your phone outside your reach. This sets you up to pay better attention to what you are learning and allows you to retain the information in the long run rather than learning just to pass a test. As my art teacher has always said, “work smarter not harder.”

I have had many years of bad study habits. It wasn’t until this year when my psychology teacher told us that there is no such thing as bad test takers, only bad study habits. This challenged me. I thought about how I have struggled with testing and test anxiety, but maybe it wasn’t the test itself. Maybe it was my approach to studying. I would study for hours for a particular test, and the score on the test certainly would not reflect the effort and time put in. So how much of the studying was actually efficient?

I evaluated what I was doing and how I could improve my study habits rather than being convinced that “I am a bad test taker.’ I quickly realized the small changes I needed to make, such as my focus. If I had a lot on my mind at the moment, studying then was not a good idea. For if I studied at that time, the information would go into one ear and out the other because my brain was elsewhere at the moment.

What I have learned from finding study tips that work for me is that I need to focus my undivided attention on studying. If I study for 20 minutes in a clean room with no phone or any distractions, I retain the information better than if I was to study for one hour with distractions. I can retain the information when I’m just focused on that one task.

So, if you are struggling with tests, rethink HOW you are preparing for your test, not how to PASS the test. Do not give up. Don’t give yourself the “I’m a bad test takera�� excuse because that is false. Figure out what works for you and stick to it. Sadly, tests never go away. They continue in college, and you will encounter many tests in adulthood as well. Therefore, it is paramount to understand the proper preparation for a test.