How to Study for Exams Without Rote Learning

How to Study for Exams Without Rote Learning

Intermediate students are all too familiar with the concept of rote learning. In other words, repetition based memorization. Many intermediate students believe that this is the only way to study for the final exams. As a result, hours in a day are spent rocking back and forth, re-reading a page from a textbook multiple times until each sentence is committed to memory. 

Rote learning may help you to memorize information from the textbook, but it often does not help you understand the concepts at all. This is because the manner in which you learn prevents you from absorbing and understanding the information. It merely makes your brain recall the text, word for word. As a result, if questions on the final exams are asked in a conceptual manner or from a different angle, then students are unable to answer it effectively. 

While it is true that memorization plays a considerable role in your performance in the final exams, there are other study techniques and methods that can help you learn better. Here are three study techniques that can help you learn smarter, not harder

Effective Note Taking

Most intermediate students are familiar with this study technique. It involves writing down points from the textbook or class lecture on to a page or notebook. However, there is a difference between note taking and effective note taking. Effective note taking involves writing down and organizing information in a manner that is relevant, easy to read, and sensible. Re-writing entire paragraphs from the textbook will likely not help you learn the information better, and will make it difficult to revise concepts before the final exams. 

Here are some benefits of effective note taking:

  1. Research shows that engaging your mind and body in the learning process facilitates better memory retention. Rather than simply reading a textbook, note taking allows you to engage your hands and mind into the learning process, allowing for stronger memory formation. 
  2. Research also shows that the brain better absorbs information when it is written in your own handwriting. You will be able to understand and remember notes that are written by yourself easier than if you photocopy notes or read from the textbook.
  3. Note taking encourages you to deduce the main concepts and points from the chapter. You read through the textbook, find the major points, and then write it down in your notebook. This can really help clear your concepts. 
  4. It is great for revision! In the last days before the final exams, you will not have enough time to go through the text books again. This is when neatly compiled notes will come in handy! You can read through the entire syllabus from your notes and recall the important concepts. 

Past Papers

You will not be able to successfully attempt the final exams by rote learning alone. This is because you will not have any practice in the application of the information. Past papers allow you to practically apply your knowledge from the syllabus in the form of actual examination questions. It is recommended to obtain the previous 5 years past papers and solve them at least once. Furthermore, you can use solved past papers to compare your answers and determine your exam preparation.

Here are some benefits of solving past papers:

  1. It helps you improve your writing and paper solving skills. There is a technique to effectively solving exam questions that you can master by practicing previous years exam questions. This includes learning to read exam questions effectively, providing relevant information, and organizing your answer rationally. 
  2. Solving past papers will also allow you to improve your time management skills. Since final exams are time-sensitive, you must be able to answer the paper thoroughly within the limited time available. You can get better at time management through practice!
  3. Solving previous years exam questions gives you an opportunity to apply your knowledge in the manner required by the exam. Exam questions are rarely asked in a straightforward manner, so you must know how to apply your knowledge in order to answer the questions. 

Visual Study Techniques

Many students are able to learn better visually. This is because in addition to the text, the brain will be able to effectively recall vivid imagery that relates to the information. For some intermediate students, imagery and visuals also help clear the concepts of a topic and allow the brain to understand it practically. 

Here are some common visual study techniques that can boost your exam preparation:

  1. Diagrams are useful for many subjects such as biology, physics, and chemistry. Furthermore, drawing relevant diagrams in the final exams can help you explain your concepts and will impress the examiner. Be sure to study with clearly labelled diagrams in order to understand it thoroughly.
  2. Use flow charts and mind maps in order to organize your information. Mind maps help you connect all the relevant points to one main concept or chapter. This will increase your understanding of the topic and make it easier to revise.
  3. Embrace your imagination while learning! Try to make the chapters come to life by visualizing the topics in your brain. This creates associations which will make the information easier to recall in the final exams. 

These are just three study techniques that can break the monotony of your exam preparation and improve your learning ability. There are so many more learning techniques and styles to explore, so be sure to experiment and find the best exam strategy for you!

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