It’s not surprising that when an important task needs to get done, your chances of getting it right the first time improve if you take a few minutes to think through what you’re about to do. It turns out studying for an exam is no different.
A Stanford researcher divided a class of students facing an exam into two groups. One group began their preparation by taking just 15 minutes to consider:
- What material might appear on the test
- Which resources (lecture notes, past exams, readings, etc.) the student would use
- How each resource would be useful, and how exactly the student would use them
The result? These students reported feeling less stressed and more prepared. And they outperformed the other group by almost a third of a letter grade—the difference between a B+ and an A-.
Here’s a snippet from the article about the research:
“All too often, students just jump mindlessly into studying before they have even strategized what to use, without understanding why they are using each resource, and without planning out how they would use the resource to learn effectively,’ says Patricia Chen, a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford with a PhD. ‘I find this very unfortunate because it undermines their own potential to learn well and perform well.’”
The article also includes some good advice for parents on how to help kids learn this strategy for themselves.
If your grades could use a boost (or your stress level could use some relief), take 15 minutes before your next study session. The technique is free, and it’s available to you no matter what your GPA is.