Studying Smarter

Studying Smarter, Not Longer – How Do You Do It?

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Have you ever felt that your study habits are not up to par? 

Are you curious about ways to improve your performance in class and on exams? 

Many students realize that their high school study habits do not work well in college. This makes sense, since college is very different from high school. 

The professors have less personal involvement, classes are larger, exams hold greater value, reading is more demanding, and classes are significantly more challenging. 

However, that doesn’t indicate any deficiency in you; it simply implies the necessity to acquire improved study techniques. Thankfully though, there are numerous productive study methods that’ve been proven to be successful in college courses. And the good news is…  

This article provides multiple suggestions for studying effectively. Incorporating these tips into your usual study schedule can assist you in mastering course content in a productive and efficient manner. Try out different options and discover which ones are effective for you.

1: Always Focus on Your Success Over Everything Else

The first tip is to decide in advance what you will be studying. It involves scheduling your whole study timetable for months in advance and planning your specific studies for the next day. 

I have discussed in depth in previous videos the process of creating a successful study plan and exam revision schedule, so I will now emphasize the importance of setting up your regular study routine the night before using a diary or calendar. 

This timetable, however, needs to incorporate enough sleep, account for breaks, good nutrition, and physical activity, and should assist you in concentrating on necessary tasks. 

According to H2 Econs tuition by Jeffrey, this way, upon waking up the next day, you will have a clear plan of action and know exactly where to begin, all while prioritizing your health and making time for relaxation. 

Memories are strengthened during sleep. And staying alert and healthy improves retention when studying. So, try to avoid overexerting yourself, schedule regular breaks, and prioritize adequate rest and nutrition for academic success.

2: Break Your Study Schedule into Chunked Sessions

Studying in shorter sessions over weeks, known as “distributed practice”, is an effective learning method. It is recommended to spend a few minutes each day working in each class. 

In essence, studying for a period comparable to or shorter than a few intensive library sessions will result in better retention and understanding, leading to a higher final exam grade.

The duration of your education is more important than the time spent studying. Extended periods of studying lead to decreased focus, resulting in reduced comprehension and motivation. 

In other words, you become weary. 

Spacing out is beneficial for memorizing a large amount of information, like with flashcards, and utilizing spaced repetition methods such as the Leitner model can improve long-term memory retention. A flashcard app with spaced repetition, such as NoteDex, can be utilized.

3: Try to be Intense While Studying

Different types of studying have varying levels of effectiveness. 

Studying intensely will assist you in achieving more. Short but intensive study sessions help you accomplish tasks efficiently with minimal effort wasted. Focusing on shorter, concentrated study sessions is better than prolonged study sessions.

One of the most effective study strategies is spreading out studying across several sessions. Focused sessions can range from 30 minutes long and involve using active studying techniques. 

One active study strategy that enhances studying intensity and learning efficiency is self-testing, for instance. Nevertheless, if you plan to devote long periods of time to self-testing, it may lead to distractions and a decrease in focus.

However, if you decide to test yourself on the content of the course for 45 minutes and then have a break, you will probably be able to stay focused and remember the information better. 

Also, the briefer and more concentrated sessions will probably create the necessary pressure to avoid procrastination.

4: Have a Dedicated Space for Studying

Do you possess a genuine “study” space or room? 

A majority of students study in their bedrooms, kitchen or dining tables, or communal spaces. So number 4 tip: Establish a designated study space. This is typically a desk in your household or a designated area in a library or peaceful environment where you can focus on your work. 

To establish a routine for studying and prevent procrastination, ensure that your workspace is clean and organized and your study materials are prepared ahead of time. This indicates that you can head directly to your desk and start working without any interruptions. 

If you’re studying in your bedroom, avoid studying in bed since your bed is meant for sleeping. Your brain associates bed with relaxation, so studying in bed may affect your sleep quality. 

To enhance your study experience, consider incorporating mindfulness practices or listening to lo-fi music. Research suggests that slow-paced or classical music can be beneficial in minimizing interruptions and enhancing concentration while studying.

5: Study with Active Recall

The more engaged you are in your learning, the more successful you’ll become. Remember that studying does not simply involve rereading information or memorizing facts by rote. 

Studying entails comprehending a subject by assessing one’s understanding of the concepts and actively practicing the material to be able to effectively apply that knowledge. 

If you are having difficulty, consider asking yourself “What am I gaining knowledge of?” Or, for specific topics like those in my medical studies – “What is the function of this bone in the body?”. Memorizing facts without revisiting them can lead to their decline over time. 

But if you grasp a concept, connect it to what you already know, and explain it in your own words, you will retain information better and for a longer period. 

To assist with this, ask yourself the question “What does the concept mean?” It is considered meaningful if it connects to your existing knowledge or understanding. 

Think of your brain as a file system or database where it’s easier to locate new information if it’s connected to existing data. I have an amazing video that explains how Richard Feynman recalled information by explaining complex concepts in simple terms that even a child could grasp. Active recall is used for exam preparation and taking notes during class. 

Instead of underlining and taking notes, try formulating questions or summarizing the lesson content and attempting to remember the concepts to actively quiz yourself while studying. 

You can further elaborate on these provided notes and explore related topics to enhance your comprehension and connect new ideas with existing knowledge. Practice testing at different points in your study process is essential, as it helps to improve your memory retention.

The Bottom Line

One effective method for studying is to summarize the material and then teach it to others. 

Educating others strengthens comprehension and serves as a genuine evaluation of your actual understanding of the subject matter. 

By summarizing or explaining information to others, you are testing your overall memory and identifying areas of weakness in your knowledge that can be strengthened. 

If there is no one available to teach, you can share information by creating a video, podcast, or writing a blog, as suggested by Austin Kleon in his book Show Your Work.

Also Read: A Guide for Indian Students to Studying in America



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