How-to effectively study smart
Studying can be stressful. The pressure to retain everything you read, to make sure you don’t mess up on the exam due to anxiety...it can all be very nerve wracking. Especially right now, in the middle of the semester!
Do you need to ace an upcoming quiz to ensure a good, final grade? Or do you have midterms coming up? Don’t worry. We have a list of tips to help you study smarter, not harder.
1. Understand, not memorize
Unless you’re at the point where you completely can not understand anything, or you’re required to learn formulas, statistics, and other types of quantitative data, try to meaningfully understand the concepts you are learning.
People often resort to memorization to regurgitate whatever they have successfully remembered onto their exam paper, but fail to understand that genuinely understanding the content required might help better. When you understand what you are required to learn, you not only gain knowledge, but if you forget exact wording from the material, you have more of a capacity to write in your own words.
For example, when one is giving a speech they have memorized word-for-word, and they forget a word or two, they lose track of the rest of the speech. But when you retain what you were supposed to deliver, it’s easier to improvise, as you actually know what you’re talking about on a deeper level.
Get to know your material, ditch the superficial understanding!
2. Take some in-person action
As much as you want to use your phone in class, spend time with your friends, you will be saving time in studying if you pay attention in class! Whether it’s a one hour lecture, or a two hour one, if you listen to your teacher and try to understand what they are saying, you won’t be nagging your brain later trying to understand the textbook! You might not even have to study as much, as you already understand and have remembered the content you listened to in class.
Approaching your teachers and professors is also extremely helpful! Clearing doubts, asking questions, getting tips, not only establishes a reputation as a pro-active student, but it also aids in deeper understanding of certain topics, whether confusing or not. Furthermore, teachers can pass on certain tactics and approaches that they have learned of over time, to make things easier for students who take the time to ask for such help.
Talking to your teacher here and there and listening during a time you have already committed to does not take much! Just do it.
3. Write things down
Whether it’s writing down a study schedule to stick to or making notes so that you understand and remember what you’re writing, don’t hesitate to write things down as much as you want!
Creating a study schedule helps you stick to a study plan to make sure you study the required material in a paced manner. It also ensures that you finish the material before any sort of deadline! Instead of cramming the night before an exam or assignment, with the fear of not finishing it in time, this will help you get through work little by little, in time for the deadline!
If not a study schedule, you can write a to-do list. It is quite popular to hang a whiteboard in your room and write down tasks of the day, so it’s right in front of you and easy to remember!
As for notes, taking notes will not only be easy for revising and last-minute studying right before an exam or quiz, but it also helps you remember and understand material better. This is because when you’re making notes in your own words, you need to understand the material before/while making the notes. Thus, note-taking ensures in-depth knowledge of the concepts you refer to in writing.
4. Understand what works for you
Studying smart requires understanding what works for you! One technique for someone else may work for them, but it may not work for you. For example, some people may enjoy calming music in the background for them to help keep the nerves down, but others may prefer complete silence while studying.
Studying is not a one-size-fits-all! Find out what works for you. If you concentrate better at a coffee shop, take your laptop/textbook, and grab a cup of coffee. If you prefer a well-lit room to keep the mood up, make sure you’re in a room with lots of light.
Choose whatever specifically helps you when it comes to studying, not just what helps other people. You can test out your friends’ other techniques, but remember studying is a very personal process, and that you can do it as you please as long as it helps!
5. Find a study buddy
As much as one may like studying alone, which is great as long as you’re actually doing it, if you’re a procrastinator, having a study buddy will definitely help. Even if it may not be ideal, having a partner with you holds you more accountable (and away from procrastinating), and encourages you to study more.
Procrastination aside, having a study buddy may help you clarify different concepts quicker. Instead of trying to tackle academic problems alone, which can be timely, figuring out things together, or if your partner has a better understanding, learning can be much easier and quicker. Similarly, if you have a better understanding of some material, you teaching it to your buddy also helps in the ability to explain concepts that you have learned. This helps in exams, as sometimes you may understand something, but struggle in explaining.
Find someone you enjoy working with and enjoy your studying!
There you have it, five ways you can study quicker, better, and effectively. Ditch memorizing word-for-word, and get ready to genuinely understand as well as remember what you need to learn!