It’s easy to assume that as you go to classes, lectures, tutorials or the like, your preparation for exams will be months away. This assumption, however, isn’t helpful. If you can think of exam preparation as being part of every class in every day — not just the final weeks prior to examinations — you’ll save yourself a lot of time and effort later on.

Information retention (and understanding) drops off significantly after 24 hours. This means that if you don’t review your learning a second time that day, what you have done in class will become a distant memory very quickly.

Think of learning like playing the piano. Playing a few notes just once with a long interval between each note doesn’t make music. You need to play the notes frequently in close succession. Your brain cells communicate to store the knowledge or skills you are learning in the same way. You have to practice, review information, or reiterate your learning repeatedly and in close succession, in order for it to be understood and retained in your long-term memory.

So take this hot tip and save yourself a lot of time later on. Spend a little time every day reviewing your class notes (or practicing that new activity or skill). Think about them, question them, extend some effort to make sense of them.

In this way, the second review will strengthen your neural networks and your understanding and memory retention along with it. Repeat the same review within a week and again within a month. When you come to prepare for your exams a few months down the track, the effort you put in to understanding and retaining information will be obvious.

You’ll find that the preparation before exams will be effortless and efficient. No longer will you need to spend hours going over and over content. It will all be easily recalled from memory because of the effort you put in earlier!