Like it or not, studying forms a rather large part of a student’s life. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if the process of studying is made more effective? If yes, then make the most of your study time using these 16 simple practices.
- Set Targets: Study in one hour sessions. Pick a section or topic that can be studied in about 45 minutes. Then do a review or a short test on that topic for 15 minutes after the session. This helps to fortify what you just studied. Thus your one hour session should be 45 minutes of study plus a 15 minute review.
- No Distractions: This means no TV, no social media open, no Instant Messaging tabs or any other distractions. Carry what you need before you start. Don’t break the session to look for pens, pencils, geometry instruments etc. Your mind needs to be focused on only the topic.
- Convenient Learning Time: Identify your Maximum Productivity Time of the day. Early mornings work best for me. It’s got to be at a time when your mind is fresh. Never on a full tummy or near bedtime when you are sleepy or exhausted.
- Ideal Study Place Select a quiet place with sufficient lighting, a comfortable seating arrangement to do your work. Some students prefer ambient instrumental music. Whatever works best for you!
- Understand the Topic: Make an effort to understand the topic as early as you can. Use a mentor/teacher/tutor to help you clear any incomprehensible parts. If you understand the topic, you’ll love studying it.
- Pick out Key Words or Phrases: Instead of memorizing large chunks of data, identify key words or phrases around which sentences or descriptions are built. It’s easier to reconstruct them later.
- Freshen up: An understated fact, but very effective – Have a shower or at least wash your face and hands before you begin your work. It helps enormously.
- Practice, Practice, Practice: Especially for Math and word problems in Physics and Chemistry. Instead of merely reading through solved examples, try solving them. Solve as many as you can. Like learning the lyrics of your favorite song by repeated listening, practice also helps you remember formulae and order of steps efficiently without making a big effort to memorize them.
- Use Images if you can: A picture is worth a thousand words. This adage is especially useful for studying Biology, Physics, Chemistry or Geometry. Making mind maps helps to order information for easy revision later.
- Study, Revise, Ask: On an average, we retain only about 20% of what we read once. Reading it twice increases retention to about 50%. Reading the same passage for a third time helps you retain about 85% of the information. Self-assessment is the best way for self-improvement!
- Light Exercise: Some light stretches, a short walk or a light physical activity keeps the brain sharp and mind alert.
- A Fixed Schedule: Draw out a time-table and stick to it. Don’t make ambitious ‘18 hour a day’ schedules if you know you can’t stick to them. Also, it’s not the hours you put in, it’s what you put into the hours that count.
- Small blank margin in your notes: While writing your notes in a class make a small margin on the side of your page for a summary of what’s on that page. Helps remember important stuff too!
- Memory aids (Mnemonics): Memory aids like ‘SOH CAH TOA’ to memorize Trigonometric identities or ‘My Very Energetic Mother Just Served Us Nachos’ for the planets in the Solar System, are very effective. Make your own Mnemonics (Mnemonics are techniques for remembering information that is otherwise quite difficult to recall). Maybe even a nonsensical verse!
- Study Group: You could also try a combined or group study …it works for some students. Form a study group of students or friends who have the same goal as yours and are least likely to distract you.
- Enough Rest and Positive Thinking: Be with people who want the best for you and getting sufficient rest are also factors that surely influence the way you approach studying.
Wish you the very best. Hoping that the process of study is fun, yet effective.