6 Ways To Study Smarter, Not Longer
Do you ever feel like no matter how much you study, your habits are just not cutting it? University is a tough place for everyone and the pandemic just piled more pressure on the top. Anyone can be the perfect student with the right habits – it all comes down to mentality and traits.
Below we have listed our 6 ways to study smarter without spending hours and affecting your mental health. Before we list our smarter study methods, we first have to kick this popular yet ineffective habit out of the window:
1- Reading is not studying
Simply re-reading the exact same passage repeatedly is not actively engaging in the material. Instead, you are simply rereading blank words or notes – it’s a great way to forget something quickly. This happens to most people and the reason behind it is either 1- you don’t understand it or 2- you don’t have an effective method of study. You begin to not trust your brain, so you go back and double-check the material you just read, for most people, this will start to become a habit. This leads to infuriation, the more you read it, the more you hate it.
This leads to the following…
2- Combine reading with practicality
The act of reading is an important part of pre-studying but learning information requires active engagement. Think of this using the example of driving a car – no matter how much knowledge you have read from textbooks or virtual learning – it’s not the same as physically driving one.
So what should you do? Do self-crunch tests. Find questions on a certain subject and answer them to the best of your ability. If you fail to answer the question correctly, you’ll know to revert and repeat the steps. Everyone studies differently. Some create a mini song, some attach a key phrase while others create different methods suited to them. It’s best to find one which works for you and stick with it.
3- Don’t cram – spread it out
Have you ever been in an under-pressure situation where you feel nothing is going your way? Or how boring do you feel by repeatedly engaging in the same activity or task to the point of procrastination?
It’s a similar feeling to constant studying. Longing out your studies can create more harm than good where a mental blockade prevents you from inhaling any new information. Instead, consider spreading out your study material in smaller chunks throughout the day, whether this is travelling to work or from your classes. This method can feel more productive and keeps you mentally fresh – you won’t feel exhausted and burnt out.
4- Study in different rooms/people
Studying in the same room can be tiresome as you’ll most likely be repeatedly gazing at the same object. Did you know memory is aided by environmental context? This means studying in different rooms can not only reduce potential confusion but also create newer ideas!
Study shows one should not study in their bedroom if possible – this is because you don’t want to associate your sleeping room with your study room. This can inadvertently loop you into a loop which can seriously disrupt your sleep, mental health, and studies. Instead, opt to study in the living room or kitchen area, or visit your local or university library or a nearby cafe.
If you study as a group with other postgrads, consider rotating between studying solo, with friends and with a different group. This can lead to studying as a fun activity but also distracting – during exam periods, you cannot afford to be distracted.
5- Talk out loud and draw diagrams
This is something most of us don’t do but research has shown you are 50% more likely to remember things you said out loud. This is due to paying more attention to what you’ve said – you don’t want to look silly to others, do you? By writing your notes down and talking out loud, you can pretend to play a fun game of family feud.
Similarly, some people are visual learners. These students tend to remember what they read rather than what they hear. It’s generally a good idea to draw diagrams, graphs or other designs to help study. In addition, you can also create flashcard notes or a study partner to help out.
Last but not least…
6- Get moving and reward yourself
Research has shown regular exercise boosts the hippocampus (the verbal memory and learning aspect of the brain) which improves performance and productivity. A 20-minute exercise can be the difference between passing and failing, so make sure you participate in an engaging task or activity in between studies.
Studying can be a boring task to engage in. But you can make it more exciting by actioning incentives. To make studying and the incentives effective, consider creating rewards equally proportionate to the study. For example, exchange two hours of studying for two hours of socialising.
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If you are struggling with your studies, do not let yourself stumble into an inescapable hole. Consider speaking to your classmates for tips or speak to your tutor and university help department to find suitable methods for assistance.
If you feel your mental health is affected by your studies, speak to a university counsellor or to your GP to find ways to turn the tables early on. You can read our blog on Mental Health from the link above.
You may speak to a multitude of charities for help who specialise in mental health or financial struggles. You can also speak to your university departments for additional help.
The sooner you find help, the sooner you can get on the right track.