Learning to study smarter, not harder

Studying smarter, not harder, is the way to score better marks in your exams. Read some tips on how to study smart and achieve the results.

We all want to have the adventures international students have. The problem is you have to study a lot to get enlisted.

Have you ever had studying sessions that amounted to nothing? You'd cram for hours on end, and when the exam time came you couldn't remember anything.

That's because learning hard doesn't always produce the results you want. Learning smart does.
Follow our guide to learn smarter, not harder.

study smart
Image courtesy: Pexel

Eliminate stress

When you're studying for the finals or are racing to meet the deadline, it puts you in a lot of stress. When your body is pumping cortisol into your system, your memory works worse.

You can see how it works when your memory just goes blank when you're super anxious before an exam. The same is happening to you on a smaller scale when you're stressed.

How to focus on studying? Reduce stress when you're learning to achieve better results. You can do this by either changing your attitude to condensed deadlines or planning your time so that you don't have to cram anything overnight. Having good rest helps too.

Don't study at night

Another common mistake many students do is studying at night. This is especially relevant for the freshmen. However, this is the worst of the study strategies.

You get into a new academic environment, and you're struggling to adapt. Many have to juggle work and study. They end up studying all night long and having a couple of hours of sleep.

You may be able to pull an all-nighter, but you can't live like that. Your memory works worse at night so studying all night long is counterproductive.

Planning your activities so that you don't have to stay awake well past midnight helps a lot. In most cases, you'd be better off by hitting the hay to get up earlier and study in the morning.

Learn in a variety of ways

You can study something before a class just by reading the textbook. However, if you want to get a fuller knowledge of a subject, that just won't do.

You have to create a wide network of neural connections to really dig deep into the topic. Reading just the textbook material will only give you a basic level of understanding.

If you want to be a straight-A student, go for more than the curriculum requirements. Sure, you have to go to the lecture, read the textbook, and participate in discussions. But if you find videos on the topic, find tangential topics in research. You don't even have to read books on it, a quick search for articles on Google Scholar would do.

Don't focus on one thing

There's evidence that focusing on one topic during the whole day can be counterproductive. The reasons behind this are unclear, but the data shows that you are more likely to get confused by the sheer amount of new terms of concepts.

So if you want to eliminate that information buzz, learn a bit of everything each day. This will also help you get the necessary pause between subjects. This way you learn a lot more than you otherwise would while keeping your brain fresh.

Don't cram

There are many reasons you would want to cram something. You can miss a deadline, or forget about an important exam. It's okay if do so but making it a pattern is bad for your learning.

The evidence suggests, cramming is detrimental for study. What really works is to actively learn in a scheduled timeframe. Reviewing the information you've already learned and applied it helps a lot as well.

Learn in context

How to study smart? You have to put everything you learn in context. The way our learning works is you form neural links between the new topics. Your brain makes connections between the new things you learn and your previous learning. This is why context learning is best for both kids and adults.

This works everywhere from maths to language learning, from general learning to writing papers. Even if you get an annotated bibliography writing service for your paper, its body is going to be much better if you compress a lot of context in there.

Sit at the front desk

Now, the data on this point is not clear cut, but it suggests that sitting at the front desk results in better grades. One study found that within a set of students randomly assigned to the seats, the ones that sit at the front desk get better grades.

The assumption is you learn better if you get to see the desk and the teacher more. However, another study failed to repeat the results.

Even if the reason for top grades is the motivation of the students who take the front desk, not the front desk itself, why not become that type of student?

This will help you interact more with the teacher as well. You can ask that many questions when you're sitting at the back. The more you ask, the more you know, so taking a strategic position at the front is always a plus.

Don't multitask.

The studies show that multitasking is bad for productivity. If you watch TV or listen to a podcast during your studies, you will achieve significantly less.

Studying can be boring at times, but playing an interesting podcast at the background is not the answer. You'd be better off if you study first and listen to the fun stuff later.

Take notes by hand

Most students nowadays have laptops, and you can often see students making notes on them. It's a bad strategy, this study says.

Taking notes by hand is not as efficient as using your laptop. Why is it is better for learning then?

On a laptop, you can write down everything the teacher says. That's not the point of notetaking, though. Your goal is to process what the teacher says and take notes to help you remember it. This is precisely what taking notes by hand forces you to do.

Get a notebook, and you will increase the productive impact of the lecture.

Use mnemonic techniques

Taking notes is one of the many mnemonic techniques in your arsenal. You don't have to confine yourself to that.

Use associations, visual storytelling, acronyms, brain maps, and other techniques to remember the things you learn better.

Teach someone else

You learn best when you can compress the information in a simple form. Sure, you can just take notes and write brief statements about the topics you learn.

However, there's a better way: teaching helps you learn. When you teach someone, you have to explain the material in a simple to understand form. As you do that, you learn to understand it better yourself.


Author: Neeru Bhatt07 Mar 2019 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 2

A useful article.

The student should be able to differentiate between knowledge and junk. When we study, sometimes we spend a lot of time and energy on unimportant topics and in that flow, the important and crucial things are pushed backwards.

Hence, utilization of one's time effectively is the art which a career conscious student should practice.

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