Glad you are here! We’ve helped many students be successful at Outlier, and we want to make sure you have every resource available, including some tips on how to think about studying!
Depending on the course you are taking, you might have some written exams; if you are looking for guidance for written assignments, click here. This article is about doing your best for exams.
Space Out Your Studying
And no, I don’t mean daydreaming while you study! Start studying the very first day of your semester, and try to do at least a little bit as often as you can. You might imagine the best schedule is one where you can dedicate many hours to studying all at once, but research has found that spending smaller chunks of time more often leads to better memory for the material.
What we want to avoid is cramming or pulling all-nighters to learn many chapters' worth of material into your head the day before your midterm or final exam – while it may feel like you are getting a lot of information in, when it comes time later to try and recall that information, you will likely struggle!
A good strategy is to have the exams firmly in your mind from the first day of the course and make a schedule that works for you that will allow you to cover everything before you get there. Think about what obstacles you might face sticking to that schedule (whether from work, home, friends, or distractions); for each obstacle, think about a concrete strategy you’ll use to make sure it won’t derail you. For example, if you know that you’ll be tempted to go out if your friends call you while studying, make a plan to turn off your phone for the hour you intend to study. The more you do from the first day to prepare, the better you will do!
Practice, Practice, Practice!
Just like how musicians practice their instruments or athletes practice sports, learning depends on practice! But what exactly do you do on an exam that you should be practicing? Getting the right information out when you need it. So, if you want to be able to recall something, the best thing you can do is practice remembering it.
So, what does that mean for studying in Outlier courses? First, make sure you cover all the material, which can come from both the lectures and the active learning. Avoid re-reading or re-watching material over and over. It may feel like you’ve mastered the material right after you covered it, but it is like looking at the answer to a puzzle, rather than doing it yourself; sure, it seems easy enough, but would you really be able to do it yourself? Until you try it yourself, you don’t really know.
- Reviewing guided notes
- Practicing flashcards (most sections have practice terms you can go over in different ways)
- Explaining ideas or ways to solve problems to yourself (or, if you are brave, to someone else!). If you find it difficult to explain, you probably don’t know it as well as you thought you did.
Another way to practice what you’ll need to do on a test – answer questions – is to do more quizzes. Research has found that it is one of the best ways you can study.
Outlier makes this easy by offering section quizzes. Only the highest quiz score counts towards your final grade, so this is an excellent way for you to prepare for your exam while increasing your overall score at the same time. Taking every quiz allows you to practice your knowledge and keep information refreshed in your mind. When it is time to study for your midterm and again for your final exam, an additional quiz will unlock. This is a great way to space out your practice – go back to earlier sections and see if you can still answer those questions.
Partner Up with Other Students
We encourage you to collaborate with your classmates to create study groups!
You’ll understand and remember information better if you can explain it to someone else. And if you can’t explain it, you probably don’t understand it well enough yet.
Do retrieval practice together. Try using the provided flashcards, and work with your classmates to quiz each other over a virtual chat.
Be Kind to Yourself
Try to stick to a regular routine. And get enough sleep — not just the night before the test but as many nights as you can Exercise helps too!
Don’t stress out if all of this seems like a lot. You are here, which means you are putting in the effort to figure out a good approach. You got this. If a lot seems new, start by committing to try just one thing, like spacing out your study sessions or focusing on using more flashcards. As you get more practice, you can add more skills.
Outlier is Here for You!
Don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any specific questions you have! We are all here to support you. Good luck studying!