If you think the best way to study for an exam is to cram, think again. Here's the right way to do it, according to psychologist Dr. Cynthia Green, author of Total Memory Workout.
STACEY: I’m Stacey Tisdale for howdini.com. Do you know the most effective ways to study for a test? Do you have to cram, or is it better to have a system? Here to help students and parents of students everywhere. Dr. Cynthia Green, psychologist and author of Total Memory Workout. Thank you so much for joining us. Now what are some of the reasons that we have so much trouble remembering things for tests, even after we study?
CYNTHIA: One of the things that happens is that we simply get nervous. Secondly, we don’t often leave ourselves enough time to prepare for tests.
STACEY: Now what are some of the things we can do to reduce anxiety during test taking?
CYNTHIA: Well, one of the things is just to practice some of, what I call emergency techniques to reduce our anxiety.
STACEY: Please share!
CYNTHIA: Some things like training yourself to take deep breaths, to count backwards from twenty, or even to have a visualization where you can, you know, practice beforehand imagining something that makes you feel peaceful and calm so that you can have that image, something that you find relaxing, and you can go to that place to help yourself calm down.
STACEY: So what are some of the steps that people can do if they’re, you know, in the test situation, they’re really, realize that they’re having one of these melt-downs and anxiety attacks and they’re not having that recall, what do you suggest people do in that moment?
CYNTHIA: If you are faced, for example, with a multiple choice question and you’re not really sure how to answer it, then to really work your way around the question, to figure out what you do remember about the question, to try and eliminate alternatives so that you can narrow your focus. Try to remind yourselves of what the main point is around a question, and to organize the information in that way, to work your way back to the answer.
STACEY: Are there specific things that parents can do to help their children when it comes to getting prepared for tests?
CYNTHIA: One of the best things, I think, we can do as parents to help our kids is to teach them good test taking habits. Learning how to take a test is also learning how to be prepared, in terms of getting adequate sleep, eating well, dealing with stress effectively, and finally organizing ahead of time. So, for example, some things I’ve used with my kids throughout their life is to tell them, when they know they have a test, to build into their schedule when, you know, that test is coming up about fifteen minutes a night, every night, to work on preparing for that test, and to work with a study guide also for that test. So they’re breaking that study guide down and learning a piece of it every night, and using the last couple of nights before the test to rehearse all the information.
STACEY: When I think back to college and high school, I remember cramming for those exams, cramming that information. I think I actually thought, you know, if it’s right up there, up top, newly in my brain, it’ll be right there. Talk to us about cramming.
CYNTHIA: The problem with cramming is that we can overwhelm our brains. That sometimes, it’s just too much information to really effectively keep track of. What I would suggest, if someone really has to cram, is that they try to distill down that cramming to what they really are going to need to know for that test, so that they at least place some limits for what they’re trying to attain.
STACEY: Great advice, Dr. Cynthia Green, psychologist and author of Total Memory Workout, thank you for joining us.
CYNTHIA: Thank you.
STACEY: I’m Stacey Tisdale for howdini.com.
Howdini is life’s little instruction manual, in HD. We’re all about bringing together the top, most respected experts in their fields to help us be the best we can be at all of the little and not-so-little challenges of our complicated lives. Howdini is the place to be for the know-how you want, when you need it. Or maybe it’s the know-how you need, when you want it. Whatever. We’re here to help. So come in and look around, won’t you?
We think you’ll love finding everything you want to learn about in one convenient place, and as we grow and add more categories and more Howdinis, you’ll be doing less surfing and more learning right here. And unlike television, Howdinis aren’t limited by time—we don’t have to break for commercials, and we’re always on.
Who is Howdini?
People often ask us, is there an actual person who is Howdini? And the answer is, it’s kind of like Lassie. Just as there were many Lassies, there are many individuals who are called Howdini. In fact, each of our experts is a Howdini, and, like all those Lassies, they really know their tricks. (Although so far there is no ‘How to tell your master that Timmy is trapped in the old abandoned mine’ segment)
Our gurus are people you know and trust because you’ve been getting advice from them for years, at places like Good Morning America, The Today Show, Money, Prevention, and Food and Wine (to name just a few). Many are best-selling authors. Others, like our medical experts, are respected leaders in their fields.
The first Howdini was Joanna Breen, who left a comfortable career at ABC’s 20/20 to create a how to video website after one too many frustrating experiences with handymen who weren’t that handy. Joanna had traveled the world reporting with Barbara Walters and others on injustice, outrage, and tragedy, but now it was time to turn her talents to dealing with crises closer to home, like what do you do if you drop your diamond ring down the drain. Joanna is the quintessential can-do girl, so she didn’t find the prospect of launching a gigantic website the least bit daunting. (Ok, that last part isn’t entirely true.)
Joanna convinced an old ABC News buddy, Shelley Lewis, to join her. Shelley had supervised roughly 9.7 million helpful how to segments during a long career executive producing television shows like Good Morning America and CNN’s American Morning. A self-described “info-pig” who loves all kinds of information programming, she is never happier than when she’s learning an amazing new tip that she can annoy share with everyone she knows. Needless to say, Howdini was a dream gig for her. A career woman, a wife, a mother, and author of two books, Shelley considers herself equally challenged by all the facets of her life.
Joanna and Shelley were introduced to marketing executive Alison Provost by a mutual friend who knew that Alison had what they needed - entrepreneurial experience, patience, and a checkbook that still had checks in it. Joanna and Shelley could see right away that Alison should join Howdini. They figured that they would take care of the programming, and Alison would bring trustworthy sponsors to help pay the bills. It took Alison significantly longer to be convinced, maybe because she was crazy busy running a marketing firm called PowerPact, which she continues to oversee while serving as the biggest of big cheeses at Howdini. But whether it’s playing Suduko or launching a new business in a field she knows little about, Alison loves the challenge of a good puzzle, It wasn’t long before she began dropping obscure internet terms like “user-interface” and “googlebot” into casual conversation.
What’s Next for Howdini?
Our goals are modest. Complete and total domination of the internet, crushing Google, Microsoft, and any other punks who get in our way. (Hey, it’s a just a goal.) But until then, we will content ourselves making the best, most professional, most credible how to videos you can find anywhere. We want to help you solve your career issues, your parenting problems, your money troubles. We want you to be more glamorous, healthier, and less stressed out. We want you to check Howdini every day for fun, interesting, useful advice from experts you know and trust.
We want to make Howdini the community you love to be part of every day, To do that, we need to hear from you. Please share your suggestions, rate and comment on the Howdini videos, and the blog, (The Howdini blog). Tell us what you’d like us to create for you.
And then, when we’ve achieved that, it’s back to working on complete and total domination of the internet.