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Four study myths debunked by Neuroscientists

Assignment time is here – commonly known as the time when academics plan the annual ‘Let’s give our students assignments and exams on the same day’ party.

Every year you’re forced to RSVP to this disaster-fest, armed with the same old study techniques that your tutors were probably using back when they were in uni. The result? A mind-blank that sneaks up on you mid-exam.

Don’t sweat it; we’ve got your back with some study myths that have been debunked by Neuroscientists – the people who know the brain best.

Myth #1: You shouldn't drink while you study

This is good news for students all over. According to The Journal of Neuroscience, cracking open a bevvy while studying can actually fuel inspiration and improve memory.

Before you start knocking them back like you’re at pres, one drink might take off the edge, but that doesn’t mean you should get shit-faced before an exam.

Anything that warrants a hangover the next day is probably not going to have a good impact on your WAM. And you wouldn’t want to have a Charlie Sheen-esque outburst in the exam room.

Myth #2: You should have a designated place for studying

Screw the age-old study desk scenario. According to science, studying in the same spot every day isn’t doing your memory any favours.

Benedict Carey, author of How We Learn, confirms that changing up your environment leads to better knowledge recall. So moving around and studying in new locations is the way to go about getting that HD.

Pro tip: studying in the room that the exam will be held in will make your brain associate your notes to the room and help you remember what you covered there.

Myth #3: Classical music does not help concentration

This one is totally subjective. Some people find it super hard to concentrate with noise, while others need noise to study. So this study tip has always been a dodgy one in my mind. But let’s hear from the experts who actually know how the brain works.

According to a French study, Mozart’s a bloody legend. His music will help you sleep and reduce stress levels. This study found that students who listened to classical music in a one-hour exam did better than those who didn’t.

So there you have it, listening to Bach Bach-to-Bach might do you some good. And if it doesn’t, at least you’ll feel super cultured.

Myth #4: Cramming works

Sadly, we just can’t justify those all-nighters anymore, because cramming really doesn’t help the human brain recall information.

Gary Lynch, professor of psychiatry, human behaviour, anatomy and neurobiology says that taking breaks and studying over longer periods of time is how we can achieve WAM-boasting status.

“With cramming only one set of synapses is being engaged,” says Lynch. “Repeated short training sessions, spaced in time, engage multiple sets of synapses. It’s as if your brain is working at full power.”

The man has spoken.

Now you know what not to do, start strategising how you’re going to kill it this sem come exam time.

And to our delight, downing a Jim Bean is a pretty good way to get started. Cheers fam!

Eden Gillespie

Eden Gillespie is an International Studies/ Media student at UNSW with a love for breakfast bagels and Louis Theroux.

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