6 Ways to Study Without Cracking Open a Book

You have a test coming up. You want to study but you forgot, or can’t bring yourself to carry your supersized textbook to the library. Whether you have only a few minutes or all night to cram, there are definitely ways that you can study for your upcoming test without your book in tow. But first, make sure you know what exactly to study. If you didn’t get a study guide, figure out what is most important. Go through your class notes and look at the points that you may have written down more than once or that you may have highlighted or underlined. That can tell you what you might want to focus your studies on.

  1. Watch a documentary. Thanks to Netflix, YouTube, and dozens of very specialized cable channels, it is now possible to watch videos on nearly every topic you can read about, from the history of the Revolutionary War to how to make sulfuric acid at home. To study math, look for a video online that can explain in detail how to solve a problem similar to the ones you will be asked to solve. When looking for a documentary to watch on your smart phone, computer, or TV, see if you can find a rating or reviews from people who can attest to its accuracy so that you can make sure you’re not wasting time absorbing the wrong information.
  2. Make flashcards. While this may require cracking open a book, or at least your notes, at some point, flashcards can be a great way to study anywhere at any time without bringing your book. Regardless of what subject you are studying, flashcards can be a great way to assess your knowledge of facts and if you can put them into categories as you go through them, such as "I know this," "I kind of know this," and "I don’t know this at all," you can really focus on what information you need to know before your test.
  3. Re-watch lectures and podcasts. Many teachers and schools offer educational supplements online to be viewed in addition to going to class. Go to your class’s website to see if your teacher has posted anything. You can also see if your school offers a student help center or study center, which may also provide supplemental tools online or in person. The Internet can also provide you with informational videos from professors and experts all over the world.
  4. Keep up-to-date on news and blogs related to the topic. Find and subscribe to news and magazine sites related to the topic. You can set up alerts through search engines like Google to be updated any time there is news related to your subject. Find blogs and websites that discuss your subject in a thoughtful and factual manner. Participating in discussion boards could give you an opportunity to formulate opinions and come up with rational arguments that could come in handy on an essay test or future paper. Just be sure to fact check any information you may see in the comments section.
  5. Study in groups. Bouncing ideas off other people and reviewing information with others can be a great way to test and prove how much you know while learning from others. One benefit of studying with others is that typically your strengths and your understanding will differ from theirs, and you can help each other understand what you might be having trouble with. Forcing yourself to learn something you don’t understand on your own can be frustrating and exhausting, so having a study partner could provide you with more answers.
  6. Teach yourself or others using a white board. Nothing builds understanding and retention like having to explain what you’ve learned to someone else. This can be similar to studying in groups, or it can be just you, a dry erase board or Power Point, and your dog. Teach Fido how to solve for x, or compare and contrast for him the American and French revolutionary wars. Sure, he can’t correct you if you’re wrong or ask you difficult questions, but at the end of this exercise, you and your pooch might both end up smarter.

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