From Zero to (Test-Taking) Hero

19.09.2019 |

Episode #10 of the course How to boost your studying and test-taking skills by Valeria Shvediuk

“Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow.” —Anthony J. D’Angelo

Welcome back, and congratulations on reaching the end of the course!

Let’s review what we’ve learned. As promised, here’s your “prescription” for becoming a test-taking hero!

• Remember that you possess a wonderful piece of machinery: your brain. It was designed for lifelong learning and can shift its physical shape to adapt to your needs (neuroplasticity).

• Optimize your study routine by reading and listening faster (speed reading, increasing playback speed, etc.) and smarter (incremental reading).

• Memorize more effectively and reinforce what you’ve learned by using techniques of spaced repetition, layering input from multiple senses, and practicing knowledge retrieval, i.e., actively bringing information to mind.

• Prewrite before researching when working on a paper or an essay, and use freewriting to unleash your creative genius.

• Adopt a brain-optimal lifestyle to achieve your peak cognitive performance: Eat healthy fats, sleep enough, take breaks, keep yourself well-hydrated, do aerobic exercises, and expose yourself to novel activities and difficult tasks.

• Conquer procrastination by setting yourself to action now by “eating the frog” or using the Pomodoro technique or the five-second rule.

• Prepare like a pro by taking practice tests in realistic settings and using the weightlifting technique of loops to break any plateaus.

• Know the format of your test and choose your strategy accordingly.

• Stay cool-headed and keep stress at bay on test day by writing down your worries, accepting the worst-case scenario, or visualizing yourself performing well.


Why Lifelong Learning?

Throughout this course, we’ve looked at effective learning as a means to improve test performance. Let’s flip the perspective: Taking tests is actually a great tool for learning! While tests and exams are nothing more than an indication of what you’ve learned so far, within the narrow domain of human expertise, actively accessing your knowledge and skills facilitates productive and durable learning. It’s not uncommon to remember exam questions and your answers to them years later, even if you’ve nearly forgotten everything else from the course. This is known as the testing effect. So, how about we change the way we look at tests and exams? Rather than a stressful one-time event, it becomes an opportunity to aid us in our learning journey!

Continuous learning, as an objective, has a multitude of amazing benefits. Here are just a few:

• Career goals are easier to attain for someone who keeps learning and always stays relevant in their professional field.

• It makes you an intriguing counterpart in any conversation.

• Just like a muscle, our brain needs constant exercise to stay in good shape—lifelong learning provides just that.

• Learning a second language and challenging your brain delays the onset of Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia.

• Mastering something complicated gives you a sense of accomplishment and boosts your self-esteem.

• New ideas that you learn boost your creativity.

• You fight boredom and your life becomes more interesting.

As you can see, lifelong learning enhances quality of life and makes you happier, so keep on learning!

I hope you’ve found the tips and techniques in this course useful and now feel well-equipped and excited to meet your next learning challenge.

Happy learning and best of luck!



Recommended book

Mindshift: Break through Obstacles to Learning and Discover Your Hidden Potential by Barbara Oakley


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