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  • This episode is supported by Great Courses Plus.

  • Cramming isn't the ideal way to study for an exam, but you're here.

  • You've come to this video likely with an exam tomorrow a few hours.

  • So, let's focus on what you can do to optimize your time.

  • How do you effectively cram for your exam?

  • You might not be able to learn a lot but you can store a bunch of information into your short-term memory.

  • Try using the ancient technique of the Memory Palace.

  • Dated back as far as 80 B.C., this technique involves associating ideas you want to memorize with memorable places like your home.

  • One study had medical students create Memory Palaces to help them remember the actions of insulin.

  • In this example, you might store glycosis in your living room and ketogenesis in the kitchen.

  • Then you can mentally travel through your house to recall each room.

  • Those who create memory palaces perform significantly better on tests than those who don't.

  • And the reasons for this is that our visual and spatial memory is quite strong and connecting information to those already existing memories proves extremely effective.

  • You should also use mnemonic devices wherever possible.

  • Trying to memorize the Kreb's Cycle?

  • Take the beginning of each product, and make a sentence out of it!

  • "Can I keep singing songs for my Oscars?''

  • You can also create rhymes or songs.

  • This method has been proven in several studies as a way of committing information to memory.

  • And the weirder you make them, the better!

  • Now, does your exam prep include rereading your notes and text book?

  • You're not alone - but you should cut it out!

  • A study had participants read an educational text.

  • One group was then instructed to reread the text a second time where the other group only read it once.

  • They were then tested through multiple choice, short-answer questions, and text summaries to gauge their ability to retain the information.

  • The experimenters found no significant differences in performance between the two groups, suggesting that rereading provides no clear benefit.

  • And while we know exams are stressful, put some energy into de-stressing while studying and during your exam.

  • Stress causes your body to release adrenaline, increases your heart rate, and can make you sweat.

  • And about 20 minutes after feeling stressed, your body undergoes a delayed stress response, releasing the hormone cortisol.

  • Cortisol attaches to receptors on the hippocampus, which is a seahorse shaped region of your brain that is part of the limbic system.

  • And it's the hippocampus that's responsible for turning short-term memories into long-term memories.

  • But when cortisol binds to the hippocampus, it impairs retrieval of memory.

  • Therefore if you are stressed, you will have a more difficult time recalling information during an exam.

  • So take some deep breaths!

  • But just "turning off" stress is easier said than done.

  • That's why you need a study technique that is stress proof.

  • Scientists recommend testing yourself!

  • Practice tests are not only a scientifically-supported means of improving memory recall, but they stand up to stressful situations.

  • Scientists found that when individuals used practice tests and were put into a stressful situation, they performed as well on tests as those who didn't have any stress stimulus.

  • FMRI studies have also found that practice tests increased the hippocampus ability to connect to other regions of the brain.

  • So even though cortisol may impair some pathways, studying with practice tests creates new paths to route around blockages.

  • Feeling distracted?

  • Try a mini workout!

  • Studies show that those who've worked out for 15 minutes and then complete a memory task complete tasks significantly faster than those that haven't exercised.

  • Even a simple walk can make a difference.

  • But you also need to take a minute and think about the way that you personally study best!

  • Metacognition is the analysis of one's own learning or thinking processes.

  • Studies have found that students who have poor metacognitive skills, meaning they lack awareness of assessing their own strengths and weaknesses, perform worse on tests.

  • So look inward on ways you have been effective before and implement those strategies.

  • If you know that studying solo works best for you, skip out on the cramming session with your classmates. It is crunch time after all!

  • There's also one other really important distinction to make: are you cramming late into the night because you know very very little about the topic for your upcoming exam?

  • Or are you hoping to perfect an already strong base of knowledge?

  • If you've already studied, GO TO SLEEP!

  • There is more than a century's worth of research concluding that sleep is essential for memory retention.

  • But if you really only can spare a few minutes to sleep, consider rocking.

  • That's right.

  • A recent study found that participants who slept on a bed engineered to gently rock were able to fall asleep more quickly, sleep more deeply, and perform better on memory tests the next morning.

  • So rockabye baby really works!

  • Of course, if you want to avoid cramming next time and get ahead, or even just learn something completely new, be sure check out our sponsor The Great Courses Plus, which is a subscription on-demand video learning service with lectures and courses from top professors from around the world!

  • Looking for more tips to get the most out of your mind?

  • We would recommend "Optimizing Brain Fitness" taught by Professor Richard Restak, which includes 12 lectures, including how to feed your brain, enhance your working memory and practice for peak performance.

  • With a library of over 11,000 video lectures about anything that interests you... science, math, history, literature, or even how to cook, play chess, or become a better photographer, it's an amazing service.

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This episode is supported by Great Courses Plus.

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B1 US memory exam cramming hippocampus cortisol study

How To Cram For Your Exam (Scientific Tips)

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    April Lu posted on 2019/04/21
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