Tips On How to Study Effectively
Getting to the Point
You know what it’s like. It’s time to crack the books, but all you can think about is – anything else. Your books seem to weigh a million pounds and simply thinking about opening one makes your head hurt. Suddenly, you’d rather do anything else – even when that something includes scrubbing the toilet with a toothbrush or eating month-old leftovers in the fridge. Studying or cramming for an upcoming exam is like pulling teeth. In fact, you’d rather get a root canal on every single tooth in your mouth than read that book that’s sitting on your desk right now. Don’t lose heart. While studying comes naturally for some, for most it’s a long and tedious process that doesn’t make the cut of things that you’d rather be doing.
Tip #1: Understand Your Unique Learning Style
It’s all-too-easy to categorize people and stuff them into neat little boxes when they really don’t fit. The simple reality is that everybody learns differently. Some people seem to absorb knowledge like a sponge, while others literally have to force it into their pores by any means necessary. If you seem to be reading the same paragraph over and over but you couldn’t even begin to describe what you just read, try listening to it. Have a friend or your significant other read to you – or find the method that works best for you. If you’re a more auditory learner, pay more attention in class. Watch webinars where possible, or find a reputable podcast on the subject that can help you absorb more than simply reading the material ever could.
Tip #2: Make it Interesting:
It’s not easy to get gung-ho about every subject in the world, and the unfortunate truth is that at some point, everyone has to study something that doesn’t immediately pique their interest. Whether it’s your algebra exam or your chemistry final, there are interesting aspects of almost every subject imaginable. Find something that you can get interested in and run with it. If the subject is just too dull to fathom, make learning fun, even when the subject falls short of the mark. Make puzzles for yourself or flashcards. Do word searches and awaken the power of your mind wherever possible.
Tip #3: Don’t put it off till the last minute:
Procrastination is your worst nightmare when it comes time to sit down and study hard. It’s too easy to get distracted and only realize too late that your window of opportunity has passed you by and it’s too late to do anything about it. If it seems too hard to cram everything in in the remaining hours to your exam, plan for that eventuality in advance. No one wants to sit down and study for hours and hours on end. Face it, how much of that knowledge are you truly going to retain anyway? Instead, set up a workable schedule. Study hard for an hour (and no, surfing on the internet when you’re supposed to be researching doesn’t count, and neither does playing Angry Birds on your phone) and then give yourself a break. Give yourself permission to do something fun to offset the difficulties of studying. After devoting yourself to the cause or an hour, take a breather. No one says you have to do everything at once, and if you plan your time and study sessions in advance, there will be no reason to rush at the last minute.
Which of these tips is the most helpful for you?
Tip #4: Set Priorities:
If scheduling was not your strong suit and now you’re left with no other option but to cram in everything you can at the last possible minute, it’s important to view things realistically. You cannot simply sit down and expect to memorize an entire textbook in the span of a weekend. Focus on the most important areas. If your teacher told you that the exam will put more weight on certain chapters, and then focus your attention on those chapters first. You may not know all of the answers, but you can have a head start on the ones that are emphasized more than the others. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Teachers are more than likely to give you a heads up and point you in the direction that you should be focusing on and they’re more than willing to help.
Tip #5: Create an Outline to Pinpoint Your Attention:
Even when you have a direction to focus your attention on, the task at hand can still seem incredibly overwhelming. Instead of reading the same chapters over and over again, create an outline. Not only will this allow you to focus specifically, it will help you to pinpoint the important pieces on the pivotal chapters and bring the truly important aspects to light. Creating an outline also cements some basic knowledge, and writing down the big definitions, meanings or explanations can help you learn them – even if you don’t feel like you’re picking them up. You’ll be shocked to know how much you remember when exam time arrives – even if you weren’t aware that you were learning them at all.
While almost no one will ever say that studying is their favorite thing in the world or that it’s what they do for fun, it can be a productive process if you can correctly focus your attention, avoid distractions and set your mind on the task at hand.