Studying is an art – it requires due diligence, patience, practice and perseverance. Sure these big words sound scary. But that is it about them – they just ‘sound’ scary. We know at this point, you are tempted to argue that studying is supremely stressful and extremely difficult, but that’s because you are doing it wrong.
Think about it. You are putting in endless hours of hard work, only to end up with average grades. Ever wondered why? You are not following a study pattern that comes naturally to you. Rather, you’re just sticking to the conventional style because it’s the norm. It’s time for you to break that habit, to come out of the cage and find your own style. And we’re here to help you discover it. So let’s get started.
First things First, assess the Situation you are in and Come Up with a Time-table Accordingly
Before we can even get you started on finding the techniques that suit you best, you need to be sure that you have enough time in your hands to carry out this plan. For that, you’ll have to determine your present circumstances, and then come up with an effective time-table so that you can manage everything smoothly and efficiently. To analyze the condition you are in, ask yourself the following questions:
• What’s my Current Schedule?
No matter how hipster or nomadic you are, you still have a particular pattern which you’ll find yourself falling into every day of your life. So your task here would be to know how much time you dedicate to each of your daily activities. Create a chart to see how much time you’re left with. This leftover time is what you should allocate to studying. If it’s too little, you might want to compromise on certain unnecessary activities till your exams are on.
• What are my Study Topics and Goals?
Okay, that’s two questions in one, but they go hand in hand. If your exams are just a month or so away, you should have at least read all of the texts that are a part of your course and evaluated which the important ones are. If you haven’t done that, just pay attention in class as your professor will drop hints regarding what may come in the exams. Once you know what to focus on, the next step would be to calculate your study goals i.e. do you intend to finish one chapter in a day or a just one single topic? Find that out and jot it down so that we can move on to the next step.
Ready? Now you have all the ammo you need to chalk out your time-table. Assign every study goal you have set for yourself a particular time slot, and try to have fun while doing so. Not everything about studying has to be mundane. So go ahead and use different highlights and be as creative with your time-table as possible. However, when making your time-table, do not become overambitious and ensure that you set realistic targets.
Now progress to try out Different Studying Techniques and See which Suits you Best
The route to finding a studying pattern that helps you sail smoothly through your syllabus is to try out the different studying techniques that exist. That means you’ll have to keep a lot of time in hand, which you’ve made the time-table for, so you’re already set there. Here are the different techniques you should give a shot at.
• Memorizing by Heart
One of the most common methods employed by most students is memorizing by heart. While many are against this technique (as it implies you’re not learning anything, just mugging up), it still has its own advantages. For example, if you are trying to learn formulae or dates, short poems or important quotes; it can be very handy. However, don’t try committing an entire book to memory just before exams as that is practically impossible, and in any case a wrong thing to do.
• Taking Notes
This is another classic method and has been tried and tested by countless students as an effective one. However, that doesn’t mean it’s the best one for you. The problem with this technique is that copying notes mindlessly is too easy, which means you’re really not absorbing or understanding anything you learn. Nonetheless, you should try it out and see for yourself.
• Group Study
Many students are unable to study alone and feel they learn the most when they are in a big group. This is referred to as social learning, and what happens here is that you feel motivated to study due to the presence of other people doing the same around you. Call it inspiration if you will. Besides, this method does have certain benefits as when you’re in a group; discussions are bound to happen. And these discussions can be very effective in clearing out any confusion you have regarding the text. Plus, studying among your friends can be fun.
• Mind Maps and Diagrams
Do you think you are a visual sort of a learner? Well, then this method might be perfect for you. In this process, you are supposed to assign an image to every concept you learn. Alternatively, you can also create a detailed mind map a la Sherlock Holmes and use arrows and lines to connect the dots. This method can work in your favor during exams as while trying to recall complex concepts, all you have to do is remember the associated image.
• Practical Learning
Practical learning is both fun and effective, making those complex, boring theories more comprehensible than before. This method is particularly suitable for science and performing arts subjects as they have a more practical approach. Learning through this way can solidify the concepts in your memory as it gives them something concrete to hold on to when you are trying to remember topics during your examination.
• Learning by Explanation
This is another branch of social learning, with the only difference being that instead of getting explanations from others, you do the explaining yourself. This helps you to retain most of what you learn as it implies that you already understand the concept well enough to explain it to someone else. Plus, it can further heighten your understanding of the said concept if you can correctly answer the questions your friend may have.
This technique is similar to the mind map as it’s more sensory in nature. You may find that watching a documentary on the Civil War works in your favor rather than reading long chapters on it in your history book. Even lectures in classrooms can help you understand more than textbooks in general. If that is the case with you, you should Google videos that are related to your topic to understand them better.
• Mock Tests
These can be challenging and exciting at the same time. If you get tired of the traditional methods of learning easily and wish you could incorporate an element of your favorite game into your studying pattern, you should try out mock tests. Take up question papers of previous years and set yourself a time limit to solve them. Or you could also turn important concepts of your subjects into flash cards and play a quiz with your friends.
Once you try all of these styles out, take some time out for yourself to assess which one of these helped you to learn faster and better. You could do that by reflecting on the experiences you have had with each method. For example, audio-books may have put you to sleep but taking notes may have worked for you like a charm. If you’re still not sure which method is best for you, you could talk to your instructor to gain some insight. Alternatively, you could also take online quizzes to figure your study pattern out. You could go on to the site of Scottish Qualifications Authority, or other similar ones, to take the quiz.
However, despite the results you get, it will still be wise for you to mix and match your favorite study methods as using any one for a prolonged period can get really boring. But there’s still more for you to consider before you actually find your ‘soulmate studying technique.’ Let’s move on to the next section.
Next, take into Account all the External Factors that affect your Studying Pattern
External factors can greatly influence as well as play a role in determining your pattern of studying. Consider the following –
•Your Work Environment
Do you prefer working in absolute peace and quiet or do you need the hum of music in the background to stay focused? The environment you choose can shape your studying pattern to a great extent. For example, if you like listening to music while studying, then the audio-visual method is not an option for you. Similarly, the venue you choose to study (library, your home, coffee shop, etc.) can have an impact as well.
• The Time of Day (or night)
Your concentration levels might be at peak early in the morning, or you might be a nocturnal creature whose brain functions best at night. The key is to find your time of the day so you can always study when your efficiency level is at its peak. And if that means you have to set the alarm, to wake up early in the morning, so be it. The exam season is crucial, and your grades are important. So you should try to work as hard as you can this time of the year.
If you have considered the above factors, have made your time-table and even tried all the different methods, you can be sure that you’ve hit bull’s eye. Now there’s just one more thing we have to tell you, which is:
Practice Makes Perfect, so make your New-found Pattern a Daily Routine
Well, congratulations to you finally discovering a studying pattern that is unique and totally works! But just finding it is not enough. You have to turn this discovery into a routine so that you can actually achieve your dream of being a class topper. However, don’t get over-zealous and keep taking breaks in the middle to relax yourself. Also, make sure that you are not too rigid in your approach. Allow yourself some flexibility and take two days to complete a chapter if that’s what it takes. Neither the technique you choose, nor the time-table you make are hard and fast rules you need to stick to. In the end, we wish you good luck for your upcoming exams and hope that this blog helped you in identifying your own studying pattern that works for you.
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