Studying is something every student has struggled with once in their lifetime. "Study smarter, not harder" is a common phrase thrown at students, but no one ever tells them how they should study "smarter".
Each student is different and has different patterns of learning. One approach doesn't suit everyone. While studying, different approaches should be tried and tested to choose the best learning approach. Students must try other studying methods so they don't blame themselves later.
While trying out different ways, especially for young children, parents should create an open and safe environment wherein the child feels free to explore and make mistakes.
For many students, who have repeatedly tried and tested traditional approaches to studying, this process can make them frustrated and anxious. However, with a calm and composed mind, students can specially curate their method through the tips below.
Here are 14 steps to studying effectively for exams:
1. Be Organised
A lot of times, studying can get overwhelming because you need to figure out where to start. When your classmates might have already started studying, and you think you are behind, catching up with them can seem impossible.
It is essential to stay organised to avoid this. Keep a study diary - on your phone or a physical one- and note down daily tasks that might include assignments, videos, practicals, and chapters you wish to complete.
Doing this would ensure you take your time and remember the tasks, which could lead to panic in the future.
2. Concentrate on Your Class
You can do half of the learning process by simply listening to the teacher during the class. It clears your understanding regarding the subject, so you feel safe later. It also makes it easier to remember the topics because you recall the lectures while studying at home.
Listening is different from learning; you may have noticed that you heard the teacher but didn't listen to them. Listening is actively paying attention to what is said and trying to understand it. On the other hand, hearing is a passive act wherein you do not make sense of spoken words.
What you should be doing in class is active listening. By doing so, you will soon notice that you not only gain an interest in the topic but also start asking questions.
Active listening may take some conscious effort at the start, and you may find yourself zoning out from time to time, but soon enough, it will become a habit.
3. Avoid Distractions
Choose your friend circle wisely. Don't be with those who distract you from paying attention to the teacher. Instead, make friends that motivate and inspire you to study or those whose ideologies match yours.
Put your cell phone on silent while in class to avoid the notifications hindering your learning process. Instead of writing notes on your phone, write them physically with a pen and paper.
Doing that also helps you recall the concepts better at a later time! Several apps are coming up that reward you for spending less time on your phone and forbid you from using certain apps while you are studying.
4. Keep Running Notes
Writing notes while the teacher is speaking clears your understanding of the concept and strengthens the memory in your brain. You can also refer to the notes while studying for an exam at home.
Not only that, but these notes can also give you extra points beyond the textbook that the teacher might have said during the class and can help you to earn those brownie points for long-form answers or essays.
5. Review Classes at Home
Once you have actively listened to and understood the concept in class, it is advisable to review it again. This reinforces the topic in your brain and will make it exceptionally easy to study right before exams.
Also, if you do this, it will increase your confidence before significant university tests.
6. Reading is Different From Learning
Students read the entire chapter as if it were a novel or a storybook. This practice is not going to reap any benefits and is only going to waste your time. You must actively absorb the study material to remember everything the next day.
Instead of just re-reading your notes, you need to understand them and connect them with the concepts you already know.
You have to deconstruct the concept and clear all doubts regarding the same. Make mock questions and answers about the material in your head or on paper. Relate it to personal life experiences and make mind-maps while studying to increase your memory.
Use memory aids, such as patterns of letters or ideas, to help remember complex concepts better. Further, write down the main keywords on a separate sheet of paper for the topics you need help recalling.
7. Teach Yourself
A very underrated but highly effective study method is to teach yourself. Once you try to explain the topic to yourself as if you were teaching it to someone else, the ideas will all clear up in your head.
This is also a great approach when studying in groups or with friends. However, doing this by yourself works just as well.
Quiz yourself or your friends just like a teacher would. You will notice that some answers come more easily to you than others. Revise the complicated answers using the same method a few days later.
This approach is highly effective in application-based answers. Once you have studied like this, you will notice how effectively you have retained the information and can reproduce it on your answer sheet.
8. Make A Plan
Sit down and make a good study schedule that works for your lifestyle. Keep in mind the complex subjects and topics for you, and note the exam schedule and the sequence of subjects.
Do not obsess over your schedule, and do not expect that you will follow it to the last detail. Make a plan that aligns with your skillset and limitations while leaving some free time to de-stress and pursue extra-curricular activities.
9. Ask More Questions
You might feel stupid when all your classmates seem to have perfectly understood the topic. At the same time, you didn't, but only a few students were listening to the teacher. On the other hand, very few cared enough to have their doubts cleared.
If you feel uncomfortable discussing your doubts in front of everyone, you can ask the teacher about your misgivings later. It is better to clear your doubts rather than be confused later on.
10. How To Study For Long Hours
Studying for long hours can be intimidating, boring, and in the worst cases, can lead to burnout. Taking small breaks between studying is essential to avoid that and still study for a considerable time. For example, after every 30 minutes you learn, you can take a break for 10 minutes.
Find a schedule that works for you. If you have a smaller attention span, you could study for 25 minutes and take a 5-minute break. This way, you study for hours without getting tired and use your available time efficiently. Very long study sessions can affect your concentration.
Manoeuvring: This method can be complicated because most students need to use breaks properly. They get distracted, carried away, procrastinate, and take longer breaks than study sessions. Most students tend to go on social media platforms during their breaks. Unfortunately, social media can be an addictive trap.
Instead of using social media during breaks, students should try relaxation techniques like meditation, listening to music, and exercise. You can also try reading a novel that keeps you entertained or pursue hobbies like painting, writing, cycling, etc.
11. Don't Study The Same Thing
Too much of anything is wrong. Hence it is always a good idea to alternate between the subjects you learn in a day. If you only dwell on one topic, you might get tired. Allocate small periods to multiple subjects instead of allocating the whole day to one.
For example, instead of allocating 4 hours a day to Mathematics, give one hour to mathematics, one hour to Geography, and so on. This method covers a wide range of topics in one day and keeps you interested.
12. Have A Study Space
Having an area at home where you only study and do not do much else is essential. It will be in your best interest if this area isn't your bed since that is where you sleep, and you would need to know when your study session becomes an hour-long nap.
The blue colour is said to help with concentration. This area can be your desk or dining table. You can also learn at a library if you prefer something other than studying at home. Experiment and find out where your concentration is at its best.
13. Group Studies Are Also an Option
Studying with friends who are like you can be fun and motivating. You can motivate each other to keep learning when one gets tired. However, it is important to study with the right people.
Friend groups can be flawed, but it is better if your study group has a similar learning approach and skill sets and understanding patterns.
If time permits, you and your friends could also quiz each other and do fun activities to test how much you have studied. Moreover, you often get frustrated while studying alone because your family members are at work or doing something else.
At the same time, you are the only one who is learning. Studying in a group can make you feel less alone.
14. Avoid Multitasking
Even though multitasking can help you finish a lot of work at once, please do not do it for study sessions.
If you have studied while doing something else simultaneously, your attention would have gotten divided, and there is a meagre chance you retained anything. You should avoid all distractions while studying, like texting, using social media, playing video games, browsing the web, etc.
Multitasking will increase the total amount of time you need to complete the same amount of material.
You should avoid using any distractions while studying wherever possible. For example, always try to learn from a book instead of using an e-book on your phone or computer. Not only can you make notes more efficiently in a book, but computers and cell phones are mere distractions.
If you are trying to change your studying lifestyle drastically, go slow. Don't change everything at once. Experiment with different changes one at a time and incorporate new methods at a steady pace.
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