Even though the coronavirus is running rampant all over the planet, it is not clear when all this will end and how the exams will go for students, but it is still not a reason to forget about studies and it is worth understanding that sooner or later exams will get to you and you should be prepared for this.
Why do students prepare for exams at the last minute?
Let’s be honest with each other, all students spend all their time studying. Some take a long time to settle in after returning from summer or winter vacations, some do not focus on their studies, delegate their tasks to essay writer and devoting their free time to relationships, work, or any leisure activities.
The main thing to remember is that time is a tricky thing. Before you know it, exams looms right in front of you. Our editor recently went to Germany, where he communicated with local students, who are not as lazy as ours but love to relax and know how to. In the course of the conversation, he learned how they prepare for the exams, is it possible to do it in a short time? If you answer the last question, the answer is: “even if one day is real, the main thing is to prepare properly”. And so, that sounds like three basic pieces of advice from German pragmatic youth.
Pareto’s Law or the 80/20 Rule
The Italian engineer and economist Vilfredo Pareto set up a most interesting empirical experience. In an interview with the German publication Spiegel Online, it was mentioned by Tobias Brandt, a high school graduate. He claimed that by following Pareto’s law he was able to pass his final exams with an “A”, even though he was not even a “B” student. At the end of his interview, he recommends that every student read this law and use it in every exams. So what is this law or, as others say, rule?
The essence of it is that only 20% of all the effort a person spends to get a result will yield 80%, and the remaining 80% of your labor will yield only 20% of the useful result. This is the formulation of the rule of 80/20, written by Vilfredo Pareto in the late 19th century. Even if you think about life examples, then why for seemingly identical goals, one person can make a lot of effort and get only one small step closer, while the other gets the result immediately, without much effort. Some will say that this is unfair, and others will remember Pareto’s law.
Let’s return to the interview with Tobias Brandt. He advises that instead of aimlessly banging your head against the wall in the hope of breaking through it, it is better to prioritize your goals and select the ones that require the least amount of resources. He gave a great example to illustrate how this rule works. To pass one of his exams, he had to go through a huge tome on the formation of the Weimar Republic? But instead of a long and tedious reading of boring literature, he found material on YouTube which retold the same information, but in a much shorter amount of time. But he had to prepare thoroughly for the physics and mathematics exams, studying all the necessary information, as ‘without deep knowledge, you can’t do’.
Who is right and who is wrong here? Yes, they are both right, because the most important thing is the result, and how you get there is another matter. But if you want to save your time, Pareto’s law or the 80/20 rule can help you.
Proper planning is much more useful than cramming.
Even from Pareto’s law, we learned that it is important to plan properly, but planning is different. The process itself can be divided into three stages:
- The first is the stage where the student gets involved in the work, tries to figure out what is needed of him, what to take on first;
- The second – the most fruitful stage, during which you most productively spend your time studying the material.
- The third – the final stage, when everything began to get bored and bored, and the desire to learn came to an end.
It is best to consider such things by example. Suppose before the exam is three days, then the first day is better to devote to the rapid study of notes, understanding what and where to look for, to refresh knowledge, so to speak. On the second day, it is worth dealing with those questions that require in-depth study, which will take some time, and the third day is better to devote to repeating the material, without filling your head with new information.
As for the good old cramming, even at the scientific level, it has already been confirmed that this is an effective method only for a short period, and then the brain forgets almost all the information. To remember the information received, you need to work it out intellectually, to put it simply – it must be understood.
An excellent method shared with us by a friend of our “tourist” Stefan Haussberg: the method of keywords. Its essence is that memorizing all the information is enough to highlight a few keywords, and the rest will pop up in your head by itself. Also in addition comes immediately another method: the method of alphabetic memorization, when the student behind each letter of the alphabet has a certain image. And, to make it clearer, let’s turn to, for example: let’s say the letter “E” is Einstein – what images arise at his mention? Gray hair, curls, stuck out tongue, physics, and the theory of relativity. The main thing in this topic is to think as unconventionally and freely as possible. We will talk about imagination a little further.
Learn to emphasize
Let’s imagine a little: you want to deeply absorb the material, but there is no time for it, and, as
we have learned, cramming is not the solution to the problem from the word “at all”, then what to do? You must learn to focus your attention on the essentials, to set the accents correctly. One of the students with a difficult-to-pronounce last name shared his experience, in which your imagination can help. The idea itself sounds like this: all the information we need is a tall building that we need to erect. The basic information (axioms, postulates, and other fundamental statements) will be the foundation for our building. Next, the student needs to identify the most important aspects without which it will be impossible to understand further information – these will be our supporting pillars. And the most significant details will become our roofing elements. Such a chain of associations will help to remember the information better at the associative level.
If you have noted at hand, here’s another tip from the student Klaus von Matterhorn – create a set of cards with the necessary information. What is the essence of the method: a double-sided card, on one side briefly the topic, concept, or gist, on the other more explanation or description with deciphering. Once everything is ready, cards with the main topics are prepared, then choose any card and repeat the material aloud. This way you will learn it much faster because you are not only learning it by talking and reading but because you have written it before, thinking about how to fit it all on a small-sized card.