If you are already deep into the semester and still fantasizing about short-cuts for success in your finals, you’re in for a surprise. There are no short cuts, but there are ways to be smarter about your study. So don’t be discouraged. There’s still time to mend your ways and if you adopt good habits now, they’ll serve you forever. The following study techniques might not work for everyone, but if you’re not doing any of them, it’s time to rethink your study game.
1. Try to settle your mind rather than to look for the perfect environment
Focus more on settling your mind rather than searching that perfect spot for study. Many students think the perfect environment is what they need to get things going. In fact, distraction usually happens because our minds are seeking entertainment, not because there’s something appealing going on in the room next door.
2. Try to avoid studying multiple subjects during one session.
It is much more productive to be engaged in a single subject as opposed to interspersing one with another. Studying one subject at a time will reduce the blending of subject contents and avoid confusion.
3. Try to keep all the clues given by teachers/professors.
A lot of the things you need to know for exams
aren’t in the textbook, but are given in lecture notes or classes. The teacher usually test students’ understanding based on certain learning criteria that was set forth at the beginning of the semester. It just so happens that those lecture notes usually address those learning criteria better than the textbook.
4. The initial discomfort in study usually dissipates as you continue on with a session.
If you’re able to persevere through the initial resistance that comes up when studying, you may find the pain will subside during the session.
5. Try to tackle materials you’re uncomfortable with first.
This allows you to move onto easier materials when you’re stuck with more difficult problems as a way to minimize stagnation during study sessions. Often you’ll find that somehow you have the solution when you go back to a troubling problem later on. It’s really another way to manage your time well.
6. Don’t try to memorize, but try to understand and revisit content regularly.
You’re much more likely to recall something if you internally understand the content. If you frequently revisit the things you need to know, you will naturally be able to memorize them.
7. Don’t focus on trivialities.
Try to conceptualize the central ideas and then string the minor details along with it. This is usually a more productive way to recall content and help you see the bigger picture at hand.
8. Don’t cram.
It is almost never a good idea so best not to get into this bad habit. There are no shortcuts. The most successful students are those that actually attend the class and do the assignments throughout the term.
9. Be on top of the game.
In practice, you’re only on schedule when you find yourself ahead of the curriculum, which sounds a bit extreme. This is because students often neglect the time they need to complete assignments and prepare for tests on top of the readings they need to do for each week.
10. Try to study everyday.
You can only absorb so much in a day. Taking a day off means you’re cutting short your maximum learning capacity over the entire semester.
(Woman studying Image via Shutterstock*)