Crunch time has finally come. Exams are around the corner and you’re ready to begin studying. The revision timetable has been drawn out, the colourful flashcards are at bay, and the brand new pen set that’s got you buzzing to start writing notes is displayed proudly on your desk.
Shortly after beginning, though, the novelty of these revision materials seems to diminish. The motivation that they provide appears to be short-term.
Studying effectively is more than just highlighting key words, reading textbooks and writing colourful notes. These study habits actually turn out to be counterproductive and only create the illusion of proactive and stimulated learning.
The phrase ‘Study Smarter Not Harder’ emphasizes that the best studying techniques are those that actively engage with the materials. This doesn’t mean putting in intensive hours until you burn out.
Research shows that students who are more successful than other students actually spend less time revising – they are just more efficient in their study habits.
So how can you change your habits so that you’re studying most effectively?
Intensity Over Longevity
Not all studying is equal. High-intensity study practices with regular interval breaks have proven to be most effective in absorbing and retaining information.
Here are eight practices that can help you keep to this method:
- Limit distractions. Our brains get excited by distractions and notifications that can distract our focus and severely affect the intensity of your study sessions.
- Plan your study schedule for the next day. Organise topics by priority-level, so that the most vital materials to study take precedence and can be completed at a high efficiency level. Set goals and become more organised to inhibit stress and remain intensely focused.
- Focus on one task at a time. Multitasking has proven to be a farce, as research shows, our brain is not coherent in taking in a lot of things at once and can reduce productivity as much as 40%. Focusing on one specific task at a time has been shown to increase productivity and performance in your studies.
- Establish reviews on progress. Installing weekly reviews to reflect on your progress can help ensure that what needs to be learned is kept top of mind and improvements on study techniques can be applied.
- Test yourself. Quizzing yourself is a highly effective study technique. By identifying the questions that you don’t know, you can focus your energy towards these and make corrections.
- Practice makes perfect. Mastering something relies on practice – the same goes for remembering information. A 2013 study showed that students who took practice tests scored more than a full grade better on the final test than students who didn’t take practice tests.
- Mix it up. Switch up your setting / revision techniques to prevent boredom from unvarying study practices.
- Take frequent breaks. Research demonstrates that scheduled short breaks and adopting the “pulse and pause” mantra or the Pomodoro technique increases productivity. Short study sessions help the synapses in your brain process information much better than long sessions of absorbing vast information.
The evidence is pretty clear – working too hard and too often can cause you to burn out. Burning out helps nobody. In fact, you might end up wasting all that time as you might not retain any of the information you cram into your head!
Taking a measured and managed approach to your studying is a great way to relieve some of that pressure and make sure your time spent is worthwhile.
Ceed can help you stay disciplined and focused in your studies by holding you accountable to effective study practices. Take a look at how we can help here.