Studying Myths Debunked

If your weekend was surprisingly tranquil, you woke up early enough to get breakfast at McDonald’s or you remembered every transaction on your PNC card, there is a good chance you have a slew of final exams to take this week. With the stress of five days dedicated to Scantrons and essays, the doctrine “don’t believe everything you read” is sometimes thrown out by nervous students sweeping the web to find easy tips on how to get an A. eHow really doesn’t really know how to do everything, and that Psychology major in your building complex may not have given you the skeleton key for a higher GPA. So, I set out to find the truth in some of these age-old studying myths right in time for (cue suspenseful music) finals week.

Myth One: Study in one place.
There’s always that one kid you know who locks themselves in their bedroom for three days before an exam. The only light they see is from the crack under their door. “I just study better in my room,” is a common response when you plea with them to get a minute of fresh air or ask them to potentially relocate their cramming to Starbucks.

Well, research has proven that the hermit approach may actually hamper recollection. The brain links external activities with learned material. So, if you memorize something while at Redifer, that memory will be stored along side the smell of panini. If you study in the HUB, the information will be stored along side the memory of watching fish swim around the aquarium. Therefore, if you study in more locations, your brain will store the memory of studying in more locations in your brain. It’s like having three coffee shops on one street instead of only one in a big town. You can go many places to get your grande mocha, instead of wandering around town trying to find the only Starbucks.

Myth Two: Study drunk, take exam drunk, get an A.
This myth isn’t all bad. While sloppily stumbling into 100 Thomas may not only land you a bad test grade but also a disorderly conduct, recollection has been proven to be “state-dependent.” Unless you took Psych 100, you may not understand what this means. So for the rest of those who took a different GS, state-dependent learning is when a person finds recalling learned material to be easier when in the same state as when they were taught. Neuropsychopharmacology is the full term for the field of science dedicated to studying a person’s brain while under the influence of drugs (so, a major for intelligent stoners).

These researchers found that this myth may hold some truth, as a person is more likely to recall information when their brain operations are similar to when they learned it. However, many drugs depress the logic center of the human brain. So, you may be able to dig up a test answer easier, but have trouble comprehending it. Since texting KGB is looked down upon during exams, you’ll experience the always annoying “it’s on the tip of my tongue” and fail to be able to get the knowledge from in your brain onto the test sheet. Maybe you should just keep the Natty in the fridge and use other environmental cues to help you retain information. A popular one is memorizing any diagrams that appeared on the same page as necessary information in the text book. Now you can go tell your High School librarian that books with pictures are better.

Myth Three: If you read notes aloud, you’ll know the information more thoroughly.
This myth is actually true. Research suggests that studying more then one way will increase ability to recall information. It goes off of the idea of storing information is multiple locations. Each one of a person’s five senses has a piece of the brain they control. So, the memory of seeing the words of a text book on a page is stored separately from hearing the words being spoken aloud. You can even take this idea a step further, by using multiple sensory memories to maximize study potential. Therefore if you read a biology term, write it down in your notebook and then speak it out loud, you will have the term stored in multiple locations through out your brain. Don’t neglect those flash cards. They may just land you an A.

Myth Four: Cramming for an exam will get you an A.
This one may seem plausible. There are even probably a good number of you reading this saying, “Hey, I got an A on an exam I crammed for.” However, the scientists are saying otherwise. The information retained is “quickly fleeting.” In non-English major terms, what goes in comes out just as fast. Cramming for an exam only stores information in the short term memory section of the brain. This part of the noggin is famous for removing the facts you thought were important and replacing it with other information being senses at any given moment. So, next time you forget someone’s name, don’t get worked up about it. Just blame good old short term memory. Also, sleep is important for organizing the material you learn throughout the day. A good 8 hours of shut eye may be the difference between retaking a course and bragging about that stately GPA to family and friends this break.

Let’s be honest, everyone is looking for the easy way out during this stressful week. But some of the solve-all tips out there may in fact be steering your studies in the direction of a career in waste management. Is there any other advice that can take your all nighters to a new level?

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