Tutors That Make SAT Studying Fun?!
In theory, developing a new skill or learning about a new subject is an exciting concept. The potential to better ourselves and expand our knowledge or skill sets can be a major motivating factor in the lifelong pursuit of learning. Unfortunately, methodical or otherwise lackluster teaching methods have created ineffective learning environments for many students, leaving them with an inherent distaste for studying.
But, learning doesn’t have to be boring! In fact, the best study methods for everything from a weekly math test to standardized exams like the SAT or ACT should involve fun, engaging activities that help students retain knowledge and enjoy the experience of learning. Read on to learn more about the importance of incorporating fun in the learning process and how to make studying fun.
The Importance of Fun in Learning
Research has backed up the positive effects of including fun or engaging activities in the learning process for a long time. In 1977, researchers Dulay and Burt proposed the existence of a concept known as the “affective filter.” The affective filter is a mental block based on factors like anxiety, self-confidence, and motivation that exists among second language learners. This block prevents learners from effectively acquiring knowledge of a second language. To counteract the affective filter, students must take a natural approach to learning in a low stakes environment that does not invoke feelings of anxiety.
A number of studies have gone on to prove that leisure activities satisfy the requirements to lower the affective filter and help students learn more efficiently. One study conducted in 2017 found that low-achieving second language learners were able to “acquire new language skills” like “vocabulary and pronunciation knowledge” by practicing “out-of-classroom activities.” In this case, the chosen activity was watching movies, which proved to be an effective learning tool.
Another 1988 study directly compared the final exam results of collegiate students who learned with relevant humor to those who learned with no humor. The experiment ran twice, once with co-ed groups of students and once with groups of only females. In both instances, the groups who studied with humor scored higher on the final exam than the students who studied without humor. Clearly, humor seems to be another important tool in a student’s or a teacher’s toolbox.
So, why does this happen? There are a number of factors that affect the way we learn, but one of the most important variables is, of course, linked to the brain. Our brains produce a variety of different chemicals known as neurotransmitters that affect everything from the regulation of our emotions to the formation of memories. Some chemicals are particularly important for a process called synaptic plasticity, which is believed to be part of the foundation for learning.
Synaptic plasticity involves an increase in both the strength and number of connections between neurons, the cells that receive and send signals throughout the body. Behavioral learning and the formation of memories have been tied to this process. The neurotransmitters dopamine and acetylcholine may enhance synaptic plasticity because they are generally produced “in contexts involving motivation and attention.” Blocking the production of these neurotransmitters inhibits synaptic plasticity, thus impeding the learning process.
Dopamine is associated with our internal reward system. It releases when we do something enjoyable or beneficial. Acetylcholine often releases when we are faced with a new or surprising situation. As you can imagine, fun or engaging classroom activities will be more likely to cause the release of these neurotransmitters, thus enhancing synaptic plasticity and the ability for students to learn efficiently.
How to Make Studying Fun
There are tons of ways to make your study sessions more enjoyable without distracting you from your subject matter. Here are a few examples to try so you can see what works best for your study habits.
Study in a Group
Believe it or not, studying with your friends can be a great way to learn. As you study together, you’ll most likely find yourselves cracking jokes about the subject matter. Those jokes might help you retain information that you would otherwise struggle to remember on your own. Not to mention, hanging out with your friends will break up the monotony of studying alone, helping you stay focused for longer periods of time. Just make sure you don’t get too off-topic along the way.
Play Uplifting Music
When you listen to songs you love, your brain releases a burst of dopamine in response. As you now know, dopamine can enhance synaptic plasticity in the brain, helping you learn better and formulate memories. Be careful not to become too distracted by the music you play, though. It may be helpful to listen to instrumentals of your favorite songs or a playlist from your favorite genre that doesn’t include songs you already know.
Take Notes Creatively
Whether you’re taking notes during class or copying them afterward to study the information, you may want to try spicing up your note-taking by adding your own creative touch. Use drawings or visuals to illustrate important concepts or help yourself remember essential information. Color coding, underlining, highlighting, or using different styles can make certain ideas stick out in your memory as well.
Make Up Studying Games or Challenges
Perhaps one of the most popular ways to make studying fun is to turn it into a game or a challenge. Many teachers create Jeopardy-style quiz games to both engage students and reward them for correct answers. If you find that you can effectively motivate yourself using rewards, consider creating small challenges to complete in exchange for something you enjoy. For example, you could challenge yourself to finish a set of practice problems with all correct answers and reward yourself with a snack or a 15 minute break.
The choice is yours, so customize your study experience to make learning fun for you!
Make Studying Fun With Prep Expert
At Prep Expert, we understand that studying for the SAT or ACT feels like a chore for most students. So, we set out to make the experience as fun and engaging as possible! Our expert instructors provide easy tips and test-taking strategies to help you achieve your target scores while also throwing in jokes to break up the tedium of class time and spark laughter in students. After all, if you aren’t having fun, then you probably aren’t retaining as much information as you could be.
Check out our full catalog of SAT and ACT prep courses to discover a whole new learning experience. Whether you prefer a self-led studying strategy, a fleshed out 6 to 8 week flagship course, or a fun weekend review in the time leading up to your test date, we have a variety of courses designed to help all students prepare for lifelong academic success and create a bright, exciting future.
Enjoy a fun, interactive, and effective learning environment by signing up with Prep Expert today!