Before an exam, I've never been that keen on studying. With my system of learning, you only have to hear or read something once to learn it. From my own experience, here are some ways to ace exams without stressing too much.
Webs and Boxes
The system I use for learning is holistic learning, by which I organise my mind like spider webs. Every single point is a piece of information and they should be interrelated like a web. In spite of being taught over half the information in management test, I scored the highest mark. As my web was so heavily interrelated, even when a node on the web was missing, I had a good chance at guessing what it contained. On a multiple-choice test, I could only understand a third of what the question asked and still be able to answer.
Figure out not only what things are similar to, but, why they are what they are. As this becomes a habit, you'll find that you automatically remember information because it fits into your web of understanding. Ask yourself after you hear something whether you “get it”.
Visualise and Diagram
Start drawing a diagram that associates the information you have learned. What is better than taking notes during a lecture is drawing a picture for how what you are learning relates to anything else you have already learned. It helps me in economics to visualise the relationship between different factors. I view cycles of money, GDP or price levels as a structure that combines all the different elements.
Anything you are learning should be immediately translated into a metaphor you already understand. You might not realise how that blog article on fitness you read relates to math, but, through making metaphors you have a huge reserve of information available to you when you need it.
Imagine and Feel it
I used this way to easily remember the process of getting the determinant of a matrix. For you math buffs, you probably already know that the determinant of a 2×2 matrix is basically the left diagonal minus the right diagonal. I was able to associate this information into my web through a feeling by imagining what it would be like to move my hands through each diagonal on the matrix.
Studying should be like stretching before a big race. I have saved a lot of time using these techniques, so that, school becomes just a minor time investment in the overall work I do each day. Practice holistic learning and you can spend less time cramming and more time actually learning.
Faria Ejaj is a graduate of North South University and a freelance journalist.