How To Study Efficiently?
Studying efficiently may sound simple, but the more you try, the bigger the chance of meeting your worst enemies: procrastination, lack of focus and the feeling of being overwhelmed. Who wouldn’t panic after seeing a few pounds worth of coursebooks and realizing that there are only few weeks (or days) left before the exam or a test.
Situations like that can feel terrifying but there are tons of ideas and life hacks that can come to your aid. They’ll not only help you in that one particular exam, but may change your views and approach to studying as a whole.
Small Doses Work Best
Still have more than few days before your exam? Don’t hesitate and start preparing right now. Today, not tomorrow. At first may feel like a chore, but in truth you’re getting lots of unnecessary work and stress off your shoulders.
Instead of cramming in the last few days, you can study in small portions more often. Even 30 minutes per session will be amazing and save you lots of trouble. And remember: nothing makes you memorize things as well as repeating them on daily basis in very small portions.
Create Your Study Calendar
Somehow it almost always feels like you have more time left, than you actually do. Creating your own study calendar is a great practice, that allows you to visualize your remaining days, and figure out how to divide the material.
Take a piece of paper and build your calendar, each number representing one day. Mark the exam/test date with a circle. Next divide everything you have to study into portions – one for each day. Plan your time so that you can go through the whole material at least twice and then devote the final 2-3 days to testing yourself and speed reading.
If you’re above high school, there’s a big chance that you’re preparing for more than one difficult exam at once. Instead of studying one subject at a time, mixing them up can actually make you more focused and less tired. Treat your subjects like intervals in physical activities. Instead of switching between jogging and running, you do the same with math problems, and history book each 30 minutes.
Try Using a Stopwatch
If you need even more ways of organizing your time, using a stopwatch app can be surprisingly helpful. People often study better when they feel the pressure of time. Decide on how long your studying bursts are gonna be, and set your stopwatch. You can try some short lengths like 3 minutes of intensive studying and 1 minute of resting, but longer ones also do the job. During rest periods you can do whatever you like. This method is easily one of the best ways to avoid distractions.
Use Various Sources for Your Material
One of the most common mistakes students do is sticking to the materials given out by the teacher. Sure, these usually contain everything he or she wants you to learn, but they can often be too wordy or don’t have examples that speak to you.
Try searching for materials on the same topic on you own: internet, library – whichever you prefer. Other authors should give you a different perspective. This works especially well for history, politics and even better for science topics with lots of numbers and complicated mathematical patterns. Also: learning about the same topics from different sources improves memorization and shows you what information is most important.
Make a Map for Your Brain
Mind maps are a top notch memorization tool. Most people are visualisers and this way of taking notes works wonders for them.
When you’re reading your study material for the first time, instead of taking notes, try creating a map of terms and concepts. Start with the main topic in the center of the sheet. Next draw arrows leading to subtopics and pointing to single ideas and keywords. This way, when you look at your mindmap, the brain will quickly make associations between words, notice how are they related to each other, and speed up the process of memorizing.
Turn Testing Yourself Into a Game
Final days before the exam should be spent on testing yourself. It not only makes you feel more confident in your skills, but also helps in memorizing even more. Flashcards are really helpful here and thanks to modern apps, you can make them easily, without hours spent on writing and cutting paper.
Applications like Anki offer various formats of cards. Simply fill both sides and add each card to your deck. The app picks cards randomly, shows you one side, and you have to guess the opposite one. Next you grade your answer from 1 to 4. The scores are saved and used to choose cards you have the most problems with on your future study sessions.
Time to battle the main villain of the world of studying: procrastination. You know that feeling when you have all your books and notes ready, but you end up checking that one Youtube video that has just popped up. Only one. And them somehow it’s 11 PM and you haven’t done a single thing.
Start by removing all possible distractions. It’s usually better to study from a book, copied notes or (maybe) a tablet instead of a regular computer/laptop. Sit away from your PC, preferably in a silent place when you can focus. Turn off the music, unless you’re one of the people who focus better when listening to some tunes. Set your phone to silent mode and turn off notifications for social media communicators (these are really one of your worst distractions when studying).
Stay Healthy and Sane
Finally: remember to take care of your body. Without proper rest, diet and some movement, you won’t be able to reach your full potential. Take breaks and eat in regular intervals. Going for short walks can also refresh your brain, just remember to go out for a set time and no longer. Try to sleep at least 7 hours a day, especially right before your exam.