There are many parts of the syllabus left but don’t have enough time on your plate? Do you not feel motivated to study because there is too much to study? What if we told you that you could cover twice as much in half the time and be much more efficient? This discussion focuses on the tips and tricks for studying smart and not hard. We will give you ten proven scientific techniques to do that.
Study in chunks:
Studying in chunks increases efficiency during study hours and gives the brain enough time to process the information during the breaks.
Research has shown that if you study for 30 minutes, take a short five-minute break, repeatedly do it three times, and then take a longer break, you will find studying less cumbersome.
If 25 minutes is not your perfect chunk of time, you can increase it to 30 or 35 minutes. How do you find your attention span? Take up a book and start reading. Note the time you start at it. The moment you find yourself getting distracted or dozing off, check the time. That is how you find out the perfect chunk of time you can study while holding up your concentration.
The chances are that when you complete that single chunk of time which could be 25 minutes, for example, you haven’t finished that topic of concept. That will work in your favor because now the Zeigarnik Effect will start acting. According to this effect, the human brain has the capacity to recall incomplete and unfinished tasks more efficiently than complete tasks. So, while you are on that small break from studies, your brain is trying to get adapted to that unfinished topic or concept. Therefore, you will be able to understand it better and more deeply when you get back to it in the second time slot.
20% read and 80% revise:
Sometimes, when we read the entire day, moving from one subject to the other, whether we are using a book or a laptop, we get very bored. Our brain gets so tired that it stops concentrating on the information.
Please read a topic, hide it with your hands, ask yourself a question about what you just studied, and try to answer it from your memory without opening it. Relate it to a concept that you have learned some time back.
Try to formulate your examples for every concept to understand it, and go back and check with your teachers to ensure that your examples are relevant to that concept.
Instead of studying the same pattern of concepts one day, it would be best if you studied one part of the topic and then moved on to the next topic. Come back later or the next day to revisit the concept you studied earlier and complete it. Then move on to the next concept. This way, you will repeat the same concept on different days and at times. This is called spaced repetition.
Your mind learns the concept more deeply when you cover it repeatedly, rather than trying to finish it in a single day by sitting for long hours and trying to cram the concepts. Also, studying different topics and subjects helps your brain to interlink and integrate concepts between topics and subjects, which is a great way to strengthen your understanding.
Taking notes is extremely beneficial for students as when they revisit the notes later, they find it easier to rewind the whole lecture in their heads.
A great tip for studying smarter is to do a reading of your class notes as soon as the class is over. You can browse through the notes and add whatever is still stuck in your head but is missing from the notes. When you revisit your notes later, they will be complete. This will enable you to have smart revisions.
Study like a teacher:
Instead of thinking like a student and getting confused with the topic, please think about the topic like a teacher. By doing that, you will begin to anticipate the important questions from that topic and it will also get easier for you to understand it.
Researchers have proved that teaching someone helps you learn better. The tip is to teach-test-mix, which means to teach someone, then test yourself through practice questions or model tests, and mix up your topics and subjects for this exercise. If you don’t find a potential listener, you can pretend to teach it to yourself.
Survey and review:
Before starting to read the textbook, you should survey the topic. Hastily go through it and browse all the topics in that chapter. Then, move on to the questions section. Read the questions once and then start reading the chapter. This will ensure that you read keeping in mind the question pattern. Follow the 20% read and 80% revise tip discussed above when you start reading.
Mnemonics are a great way of remembering fact-based information. Researchers suggest that recalling information is easier when connected to other information you already know. You can imagine this memory model as a web of files, where the ones with more connections are less likely to be lost and easier to recall.
An influential theory was published in The British Journal of Educational Psychology in 1976 that put learning in terms of different levels of processing. It suggests learning can fall on a spectrum of surface-level processing, like rapid-fire memorization to deeper processing or linking new information to a known information network, leading to better recall. With mnemonics, you make more of these connections, ensuring better recalls.
Some people will suggest you sit in the same fixed place with a table lamp every day to study. But it does not work for everyone.
Some students, especially kinesthetic learners, like to keep their bodies moving and walking while studying. They find sitting in one place boring.
Therefore, where or how you want to study is for you to choose because you know yourself better than everyone else. Once you have figured out where you like to study, stick to that. Do not let other people influence your study choices.
Planning is the best way to study smart. Your brain is more inclined to accomplish a job if it is prepared to do it beforehand.
People who don’t plan rarely succeed. It would help if you plan your week and day and even hours. You will be surprised to find how productive the same number of hours will be if they are well-planned.
Some students like to study till late, while others prefer to study in the early mornings. Both ways are fine unless your sleep cycle is not getting affected.
A human brain needs at least 7.5 hours of sleep every night to function properly. Sleep acts like brain food and medicine for fatigue and exhaustion. Ideally, 12 pm to 8 am is a great time slot to sleep. Research has proven that the earlier you sleep at night, the better your brain performs, which ensures better grades.
Please do not do all-nighters before your exams. A professor at the Texas College of Medicine, David Earnest, stated that sleep deprivation has a staggering effect on working memory. The brain keeps losing its efficacy with each hour of sleep deprivation. This is because it affects the Hippocampus, the part of the brain central to making new memories.
If you have gone through the whole discussion, you will have decided which steps you need to take and how you need to alter your study plan to make it more efficient. You don’t need to follow every one of these study tips; you can follow the most compatible with your learning style and intelligence to make the most out of your study time.
Is studying smart better than studying hard?
In today’s era, with the exams getting more competitive and the content of the syllabi on the increase, it is better for students to invest time looking for ways to study smart rather than study hard. While hard work can’t be substituted, you need to inculcate some strategies into your study plan to ensure good grades. If you watch toppers’ interviews, you will find that they have worked on their abilities and discovered ways to make the most out of their time. That is how they manage to get good grades.
What is the Zeigarnik effect?
Zeigarnik effect is named after the Lithuanian-Soviet psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik. It states that when a person is interrupted while trying to understand a certain concept or if an activity one is working on is left incomplete for any reason, it is more easily recalled as the human brain remembers it more vividly. Students can use this study to study smartly. It is beneficial to leave a chapter incomplete, take a break to process the incomplete information, and come back and complete the chapter, rather than trying to complete the whole chapter in one go.
How does having adequate sleep help our memory?
Adequate sleep is very important to remember things while studying. Dr Matthew Walker, a sleep scientist at the University of California, says that sleep is very important for the learning process. Sleep before learning prepares the brain to receive the information Sleep after learning helps inculcate the new information into the brain architecture, making it less susceptible to being forgotten. There have been many studies that prove the hazardous effects of all-nighters before an exam. Sleep deprivation adversely affects a part of the brain called the hippocampus, which is the center for storing new memories.
Why is having a study timetable important?
Having a study timetable prevents you from procrastinating. When you have a set time to finish and accomplish a task, your brain tries its best to follow that schedule and get the task done.
Following a timetable teaches you time management skills. Research conducted by Jennifer Weil Malatras, a Psychologist at the University at Albany, found that the students who follow a timetable and accomplish their tasks following a schedule develop more time management skills as they grow than students who don't. Another research conducted by Richelle Adams and Erik Blair in 2019 linked time management skills in students with better academic performance.
It increases your concentration. Your timetable directs you to accomplish a single task at a time. This ensures you concentrate on the task to accomplish it within time.
It enables you to complete the whole syllabus efficiently. This is because the timetable divides the whole course into smaller parts to be finished over some time. If you fail to complete the set target for the day, you feel guilty and try to finish it on a subsequent day.
What is the best time to study?
While study times and styles are subjective and vary from one student to the other, researchers have proved that the brain is the sharpest in the morning as the night’s sleep has refreshed it. Having adequate sleep helps the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for storing new information. When the brain is fresh and alert, memorizing fact-based information like dates, names, and places is easier. Moreover, natural light in the morning is better for studying than artificial light at night.
Why are revisions important?
Whenever you study a topic, certain specific neurons or brain cells get activated and linked together, creating a short-term memory of it by storing it in an area called the neocortex. When you revise the same information repeatedly, the link between the same types of neurons gets strengthened. This short-term memory changes into long-term memory and is stored in another area called the hippocampus. This is how revisions are important to enhance your memory of a topic and embed it in your brain.