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Use science of memory for effective study

science of memory

Ahead of Year 12 exams, an educational psychologist provides tips on effective study.

Associate Professor Penny Van Bergen is an educational psychologist at Macquarie University, who researches adolescents’ development of memory and emotion skills. She says students can benefit from focusing on the basics, taking a smart approach to memory, and keeping things in perspective.

“In 2020, students preparing for their final exams during COVID may be particularly anxious about whether they will do as well as usual,” said A/Prof Van Bergen. “To support students through this period, it is useful to go back to basics. Schedule study, exercise, and downtime, and have a Plan B just in case it is needed. This way there are no surprises.

“Remember what makes study effective. Research shows that memory works best when study is targeted to the exam and discipline; when students use active study methods such as decision making and self-testing rather than rehearsal; and when switching back and forth between topics rather than trying to learn them one after the other. This gives the brain multiple opportunities to encode and retrieve the material. Good sleep is also critical.”

“Finally, keep everything in perspective. Most universities and degrees have early entry and alternative entry options, and this is particularly true during COVID.”

Source: MCERA

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