Have you ever sat down and wondered,
“How to study?” – I mean, I certainly have at times. It may be questions like ‘how to study for an exam’ or ‘how to study in ramadan’.
The answer to that question, well, is what I’ll throw at you today.
Welcome – to the ultimate study guide:
I’ll run you down with some tips, methods and study hacks that’ll hopefully satisfy your question.
Why is studying so hard?
Studying, as the process, is kind of difficult for students because of it’s ambiguity. The word ‘Study’ doesn’t convey itself as a set of particular steps that a student must perform, instead, it’s very flexible.
This uncertainty makes the process of studying very difficult for someone who’s just starting out.
This guide aims at clearing that ambiguity and hopefully making the process of studying a little easier for you.
1: Create A Study Space:
Video by: Thomas Frank
A study space is an area that you dedicate only for study or work. You need to create a proper study space.
Now this doesn’t have to be expensive. You don’t even need a proper desk.
Just center this space around productivity, and try refrain studying at your bed.
How do I build a study space?
It’s not that hard. Just find a suitable place, preferably with good or natural lighting.
Add a table or a desk, or maybe just use the floor!
Add in your stationery and other utensils that you may use around your study space.
….and you’re done – you can call it a study space!
2: Create A Study Ritual:
When it comes to be able to concentrate on studies, creating a study ritual is essential.
What is a study ritual?
A study ritual is a routine or a set habit that you create, for studying, which essentially covers your style of studying and in doing so, you make study a basic part of your daily life.
How do I create a study ritual?
- Start by planning how you want to study.
- Go into when you want to study.
- Delve into how long you want to study.
- Highlight how often you want to take breaks.
Put all those down in a piece of paper, mark it out and plan perfectly – create a routine.
Don’t be generic – like study for 8 hours. Be precise and simple.
Organization is an important part of your study ritual.
Organization makes it easy for you to find your stuff, be productive, and keep distractions away.
What should I organize?
Actually, there’s no limit! You can organize your room, your study area, your stationery, your school bag, your pencil case etc.
You also need to make sure that you remove probable distractions beforehand.
This can be as simple as switching on DO NOT DISTURB mode on your phone or as complicated as setting up a computer software that blocks certain apps.
It’s up to you, how you want to go about organizing your study area.
4: Plan Out Your Study Goals:
For effective study sessions, you need effective planning.
Creating study goals is tricky, and most students do it wrong.
I have some tips, highlighting how you should actually plan our your study goals:
Tip 1: Don’t Just Plan To ‘Study Geography’
I’ve seen so many people write ‘Study Biology’ or ‘Complete The Syllabus’ etc. in their planners. Such a far-fetched and unspecified plan isn’t going to help you out, and will lead to procrastination. If you want to plan to study biology, break it into smaller chunks. For example, here’s an efficient plan to study a particular subject:
- Clean Study Area.
- Prepare Coffee.
- Review Mind-maps On Chapter 4.
- Solve Review Questions For Chapter 6.
- Prepare Cornell Notes on Chapter 11.
- Complete Yesterday’s Homework.
Tip 2: Make A Priority Gradient:
Figure out when you have upcoming tests and what is the syllabi that you need to follow. When you have all that, start grading subjects(more specifically syllabi) based on level of priority.
Here’s an example of a priority gradient:
- Biology – Most Important – 6 Chapters Incomplete.
- Second-Language – Important – 2 Chapters Incomplete.
- Computer-Science – Least Important – All Chapters Reviewed.
Tip 3: Choose Your Planning System:
Decide on what you want to plan on. Your smartphone, a daily planner or a bullet journal? Try out every system and see what works the best for you. I personally plan my studies on my Bullet Journal’s weekly log.
When you have your planning system, remember to stick with it. Always keep it by your side and remember to check it once every while. If you can do those, you can completely trust your system with your plans. Remember, use what works best for you. If a dry-erase board works for you, be rest assured that it’s the best. Don’t prefer one system over another just because it’s fancy, the priority here is effectiveness.
Tip 4: Assign Particular Days To A Certain Subject:
If you try to study a lot of subjects in a short amount of time, you’re gonna end up studying nothing properly. Assign particular days(or even weeks) to one subject. It helps you remain focused and eases exam-stress.
What if you have to study multiple subjects for tomorrow’s test?
If that’s the case then divide the day you have into certain segments. For example:
- 7am-10am – Biology.
- 1pm-4pm – History.
- 6pm-9pm – Literature.
Tip 5: Include Breaks In Your Study Plan:
It’s very easy to study too much and tire yourself out, and it becomes stressful overtime as well. Include short breaks in your study plan, it helps you to stay motivated and focused. I use the Pomodoro Method to study, so I take a 5 minutes break after every 25 minutes of study session.
5: Try Different Study Methods:
If you actually look for it, there are loads of different study methods.
It can be daunting to choose which one you want to use, so here’s a quick guide:
- Active Reading: Active reading is a way of reading a text where you actively involve yourself with the information, as opposed to passively reading the text once. It can be going through the review section first, or coming up with your questions. This method is very useful if you have lots of pages of text to go through.
- Note-Taking: Note-taking involves extracting important information from the text that you’re reading and presenting it, in a more suited format or style. It is one of my favorite methods when it comes on how to study, and I usually focus on important keywords that relate to the topic. Note-taking is helpful if you have large text based information to study from.
- Mind-Mapping: Mind-mapping involves connecting different concepts with each other in a visual format. This is really helpful if you have a lot of concepts to understand.
- Audio-Notes: Audio notes are audio clips that you record containing certain auditory information, which may be you reading out your notes. This is an easy way to revise for a subject. It’s great for auditory learners.
6: Set Up A Reward System:
What is a reward system?
A reward system is essentially where you have several short-term goals and once you complete those goals, you reward yourself something valuable.
By creating a reward system, you basically create a reason for you to do work.
Once you have a reason to work, productivity flows in like river-water.
Create a non-distracting, yet effective reward system – for example, my reward system looks something like this:
I start with a cup of coffee and some work, and once I complete that work – I’ll reward myself another cup of coffee or any other drink I may be up for.
Essentially, I’m rewarding myself something to drink each time I complete a short term goal from my list – and it works.
Some tips while creating a reward system:
- Don’t make long-term goals.
- Reward yourself something non-distracting, like going on social media isn’t the best choice.
- Don’t go overboard with the rewards.
7: Take Short Breaks:
Breaks are super important when it comes to studying. Breaks are essential for concentration and productivity levels.
You need to take frequent, but short breaks every now and then.
By taking a break, you tell yourself that you’ve done well enough and it’s time to take a little rest. This boosts your productivity levels by giving your brain the refreshment it needs.
Here’s how to effectively take breaks:
- Work for short sessions, and call it break-time soon enough.
- Don’t work on anything too distracting during the break.
- Enjoy it, but remember that you still need to go back to study afterwards.
8: Less Is More:
What Should You Be Focusing On?
We all have a huge pile of syllabus stacking up constantly and filtering out important topics is difficult. So what should you be doing?
Ask The Teacher: What’s important? Do they give you practice questions? Do they ask you focus on certain keywords during a lecture? If you need more help just go up to them with the topic and ask them what you should be focusing on, show a little seriousness and they should be glad to help!
Refer To Homework: Do you get a lot of homework? That’s not a bad thing! You have more material to look into while preparing for your courses!
What Does Less Is More Mean For You?
It means you should be focusing on quality over quantity. Be it notes, practice questions or revision material.
Narrow your options down to what’s unnecessary and what’s important. For example, I avoid making notes for my History course. Why? Because I like the way how the information is presented, and there’s not really a lot I could change in it.
So I refrain from wasting my time by making unnecessary notes.
Spend less time thinking about studying instead of actually doing it.
I know planning to study could be helpful, but not to the point you could excuse it as productive work, because it’s not.
Unless you sit down and get actual work done, you won’t make a lot out of that planning system.
How To Avoid Unnecessary Work?
It’s really a hit and trial method. You have to look and see for yourself what works for you and focus on it.
Do this as early as you can, so you don’t waste a lot of time whilst your exams get nearer.
Let’s assume making flash cards don’t work for you – What do you do next?
Obviously, avoid making flash cards, but other than that, you must also look for other options.
You could record yourself narrating your notes and listen to them later, or use mind-maps for visualization.
How To Make The Most Out Of Less Work?
Revisit Your Notes Often: I can’t stress on it enough. You must revise your notes regularly or they won’t be of real use. Go back to them, read them through and repeat.
Use Summaries: Create short summaries for your topics. Make sure you cover every important point, but in a nutshell which is very easy to review back later. Making them doesn’t take up a whole lot of time, and you make a lot of use out of them.
Watch YouTube Videos On Your Topic: Crash Course, Khan Academy or anything you love. YouTube videos can summarize large topics into a small form factor which isn’t very heavy on your brain. The best thing? You could do it anywhere! While traveling to school, during recess – whenever you feel like it!
9: Use Practice Questions:
There’s a high chance that your textbook has a chapter review section which has multiple practice/review questions. Sometimes, teachers like to hand out these questions as a practice sheet.
You can use these questions to figure out the key or important points from the topic, and what concepts are most significant.
Before you actually go through the text, skip to the review section and see the highlighted points and sections so you make sure to focus on them once you actually read the entire text.
By using practice questions, you know what the author or the editor of the textbook thinks is most important from the topic and you can focus on those points mainly as you go through the chapter.
10: Stay Hydrated And Fed:
This doesn’t have a direct correlation on how to study, but it certainly does add to an effective study habit.
While you’re studying, it’s a nice idea to keep a bottle of water and some snacks nearby so you can grab them whenever you feel the need.
Remember to stay hydrated, because a lack of water can damage your productivity levels and concentration.
Hunger can also throw some bad effects at your study ritual.
It’s also a good idea to dry and get a drink, of any sort, while you’re studying.
I personally prefer coffee but you can choose whatever you like – be it water, tea or fruit juice!
11: Keep Distractions Away:
Keeping distractions away is an important part of studying and maintaining concentration.
There are multiple ways you can go by doing this, maybe keep your phone away or use an app to block other apps.
I’ll list some methods down:
- Turning on DO NOT DISTURB: Turn on do not disturb while you’re studying so that texts or other notifications don’t disturb you.
- Using Forest: Have you ever been addicted to your phone and just cannot put it down? Forest provides an interesting solution to beat your phone addiction. You can plant a seed in Forest. In the following time, this seed will gradually grow into a tree. However, if you cannot resist the temptation and leave this app to check Facebook or play a game, your tree will wither away. With this interesting mechanism, the sense of achievement and responsibility will drive our users to stay away from their phone with no pain.
….and that’s it for this post! I hope you enjoyed it! If you like it, check this post out!
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