Assignments, projects, weekly assessments, extra-curricular activities and personal commitments — the life of students is really hectic. This busy and tedious life often makes the students feel miserable and dejected when they cannot balance their academic and personal life. The severe academic pressure with the intimidating demands of scoring high grades leaves them low spirited. But good grades do not always come at the cost of sacrificing social and personal life. Yes, you don’t need to study longer. You just need to study smarter!
The main objective of education is not getting high grades but it is to learn the vital skills which would help you throughout your life. When you will organize your academic life accordingly, you can successfully minimize all the problems that you face. It is about pursuit of excellence and not success! It is about cultivating your strengths and not defeating your peers!
Here, we present you 15 smart study help ways which will comprehensively prepare you to learn effectively and smartly, thus, reducing the number of hours you spend for your studies. Follow them to ensure yourself a balanced life where you will have time to meet your friends, enjoy your leisure along with maintaining the regular academic routine.
1. Organize your schedule
The term ‘organize’ do not refer to simply making a time table and following it. It suggests that you should organize your studies inclusively. Making separate notebooks from each and every subject, carrying other essentials all the time (from pencil to calculator), maintaining a planner among others things are parts of it. Also keep a track of your regular progress and identify the areas where you need to emphasize. Today you can use technology for your own benefits. An alarm clock will help you to get up on time while your PC will help you to keep notes and find out some crucial information from the internet. Finally, maintain a routine and follow it regularly.
Key Tip: Always carry a highlighter with you. Simple color coding will help to identify the important areas and also assist you to remember them.
2. Learn through different ways
Experts opine that when people use all their senses to understand a topic, it stimulates different parts of the brain and hence allows you to understand and retain the information better. Obviously, students do not understand the concepts of any topic in the first attempt. So, it is important to review and re-read the topic through an alternate medium to learn faster. So, when you are going to learn a topic, do not depend on your class notes only. You also need to read your textbook, look up for online resources, watch videos, practice problems from a variety of resources etc to develop strong knowledge.
Key Tip: Try to teach your friend or junior the same subject that you have learnt. Teaching somebody always augments your knowledge.
3. Study multiple subjects every day
Sometimes the students are told to study a single subject whole day so that they can develop strong command and mastery over it. However, learning the same subject throughout all day can be monotonous and boring. Sometimes when you study similar information, your mind cannot stimulate it any longer and hence you can get confused and mix-up different ideas. So, it is always better to study multiple subjects every day. But it does not signify that you should learn all the subjects in one day; try to provide equal time to at least two subjects in a day. Studying multiple subjects in a single day is always helpful when you are preparing for the upcoming examinations.
Key Tip: You can be weak in one particular subject which you don’t like to study and always avoid. But dividing your time equally for all the subjects can help you to excel in it.
4. Attend classes and participate
Attending classes at the college is equally important as it was in the school level. Studying becomes much more effective when you attend classes regularly and participate in the discussion. Try to understand what the professor is trying to convey to you all and how other friends are responding to it. Do not hesitate to ask questions when you don’t understand something. You can also take running notes which will be your reference in future. It will help you to understand the subject better.
Key Tip: Interestingly, one survey found that students sitting in the front row tend to get higher grades in the exam than the students sitting in the last benches! The front row benches also remain more motivated! So, next time get the best seats in the class.
5. Avoid multi-tasking
Multi-tasking makes a person less productive. Various studies have shown that in contrary to the claim, the multi-taskers are not better than the ordinary person who pursues one task at a time. So, if you want your studies to be productive and effective, concentrate on one thing at a time. One of the foremost duties that you need to do is put away your smart phone and sign out from the social networking and instant messaging services. These distractions always ruin your concentration. If you have a habit of listening to songs while solving mathematical problems, try to change it as quickly as possible.
Key Tip: Learning becomes most effective when you choose a calm and quiet environment for yourself. Locate the most comfortable (but not your bed) and pleasant corner of your home and start studying.
6. Try mnemonic techniques
Mnemonic techniques or memory enhancing techniques has recently emerged as one of the most powerful strategies which help in retaining different formula and series in mind. Studies have shown that the students who use the mnemonic techniques like acronyms, rhymes or associate any formula with music perform better than the students who take the conventional ways. For example, if you are confused between stalactites and stalagmites; just remember that stalacTites grow from Top and stalaGmites grow from Ground.
Key Tip: If you are not into mnemonic techniques, you can also employ diagrams, flowcharts, comparison table and charts. They are also equally helpful to memorize and learn information faster.
7. Write, don’t type
The digital revolution has changed the academic world. Now the students can get information in any subject with just a mouse click. They also feel comfortable in typing the notes rather than writing it in the exercise books. But academicians, professors and also scientists strictly discourage this practice of typing down the notes. Using laptops to write down not only makes you prone to online distractions but it also makes learning less effective. When you write the information in your exercise book, you process, reframe the information, causing a retaining effect. In contrast, laptop note takers do not get attached to the information and write down the notes blindly.
Key Tip: It is very simple, set aside your laptop and start writing from now on. Students who take down notes always perform better in the examinations.
8. Identify your worries
Just few days before the exam, countless negative feeling resonates in the minds of the students. They remain worried and anxious whether they would be able to perform according to the expectations or not. These accompanying thoughts always act as a deterrent before examinations. This time, when the semester starts, identify what worries you before the examinations. Accordingly, plan your schedule. If Mathematics is the cause of our concern, then provide ample time to mathematics. If you lack motivation to studies then read inspiring stories or make friends with students having excellent results.
Key Tip: Just before the examination when you have 10 minutes in your hand, take a paper and write down all your thoughts. When you express yourself in a paper, it helps to remove the anxieties that can disturb you while giving the exam. It will help to instill confidence in you and help you to perform better.
9. Plan ahead
In college life, the students not only need to perform in annual examinations, but there are also various assignments, practical tasks and projects. These projects are equally important. It is not very easy to manage all the tasks at a time. It will not only lead to confusion but also deteriorate the quality of the work. In most of the times, the students get to know their academic schedule at the start of the semester. You need to plan ahead to provide and allocate time to all the tasks that you need to do. Note down the due dates and exam dates in the planner and then accordingly schedule your studies, research for projects, extracurricular activities etc.
Key Tip: Whenever you come across any important information, read it aloud. The theory holds even when you learn new concepts or theories. Reading aloud helps you to memorize faster which will remain long inside you.
10. Connect your knowledge
You will note that in school, college and university – every course is taught chronologically, one specific chapter after the other. It is done so that all the students can understand and connect the similarities between the concepts which in result will make your studies more helpful. Therefore, experts opine that no student should ever move on to the next chapter till they develop strong knowledge about the current theory. Whenever you relate the new concepts with the older ones and explore how they are connected together, you learn the subject better and faster.
Key Tip: If you can’t connect or understand the concepts of the current chapter then you may fall behind your peers. What to do? Just take an appointment and set up an in-person meeting with your teacher. Convey the issues to them and he /she will definitely support you.
11. Study in groups
Rubbing shoulders with the best minds of the class always helps you academically and also infuse a spirit of healthy competition among the students through which they are mutually benefitted. You can study in groups especially the subjects in which you underperformed in the last semester. When a group of college students study together, they get to explore new perspective from their friends and a better way to approach a problem. They can share each other ideas which help them to grow together. But if you are planning to study in a group, don’t forget to order pizza!
Key Tip: In the college, you can find different clubs known to organize different activities. Some encourage extracurricular activities while some deal with different core subjects like Math, Physics etc. You can also join these clubs where you will get the opportunity to improve yourself.
12. Focus on process not goals
Today the students are concerned with the goals but not with the process. Successful students concentrate on learning and just not trying to get the top grades. You too should emphasize on the process rather than only concentrating on the goal itself. Experts comment that there are two types of goals for the students - Performance Goals (getting 90 in Math exam, getting better rank than the friend etc) and Learning Goals (doing at least 10 sums a day, improving knowledge in Thermodynamics etc). While the first one is about proving others, the latter objectifies mastery and growth. Ironically, many schools and colleges emphasize on the importance of performance goals but if you expect your comprehensive development, concentrate and embrace learning goals.
Key Tip: Rather than focusing at the end result, concentrate on the effort and the challenges that you need to overcome. Motivate yourself that you are learning something new and not just studying for ‘A’ grades.
13. Take breaks
Do not engross yourself in studies all day. It is important to take breaks even if you are under too much academic pressure. Regular study breaks helps to enhance productivity, focus and concentration. Experts suggest at least 5 to 10 minutes break is compulsory every one hour you devote to studying. If you are too concerned with the syllabus that you need to cover then you can use a stopwatch which will notify you after 5 minutes is over.
Key Tip: During the break, try to avoid computer and your phone as they can completely detach you from the studies causing more blunder. Utilize this time which will free your mind and help you regain your energy. Try listening to some good music or watch your favorite cartoon.
14. Reward yourself
Whenever you sit for a study session, assure yourself a specific reward after successful completion of the session. This is a simple way to motivate yourself when you are preparing yourself for big examinations. It will also complement your learning and memory infusing the spirit to learn faster. But do not promise yourself a box full of chocolates or playing play station for an hour! Rather go for a walk, play your favorite instrument or a little stretching.
Key Tip: Always stay positive with your attitude. Sometimes it is not possible to reward own self but remaining enthusiastic with the studies can also give you the same motivation.
15. Exercise regularly
Regular exercises not only give you a fit body but they are also very good for the functioning of the brain. Studies have shown that any student who exercises regularly has shown improved brain functioning. It is also helpful to reduce stress and depression, enhance sleep quality, improve your mood and prevent different diseases like diabetes, osteoporosis, high blood pressure etc. So, provide at least half an hour for exercises regularly and remain healthier and energetic throughout the day.
Key Tip: Drink at least eight glasses of water every day. What it has to do with learning faster? Many students suffer from dehydration especially during the exam time. Dehydration can cause the brain to shrink and as a result the mental processing power decreases. So, drink plenty of water.
These are 15 ways which will help you to learn anything smarter! Don’t feel overwhelmed! You need not implement all the 15 steps at a time. But while you are following these steps, you will get to know that learning is not about only getting good grades. It is about learning, growing and then contributing to the society. Always believe in SMART goals: Small – Measurable – Attainable – Realistic - Fixed Timeframe. Your present situation will definitely change and you will start learning smartly!
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