Are you tired of those cookie-cutter study tips that flood your browser when you are Googling for help? Do you admire those for whom study seems so easy and always get the results they want? No more fruitless Googling. No more endless envy and frustration. Digital Senior has here 7 tips that are not easily found elsewhere but can effectively improve your results.
Paper or Device?
One often overlooked area to improve productivity is the tool with which you study. Whether you bring printed slides or a computer to classes can make a huge difference.
We naturally want to write less when using printed handouts, as writing manually is slow and tiring. It is hence less effective a tool of learning for subjects that involve a lot of notes taking. That’s especially true for social sciences or humanities subjects.
But for certain subjects, it is not wise to use electronic devices. Such subjects usually involve drawing of graph or special symbols (can you type easily “≠” on your keyboard?). For such subjects, using printed notes make you feel much more inclined to take notes.
But what if your subjects fall in between the two extremes? Then Digital Senior would recommend you to bring printed notes. Scientific study has shown that taking notes by hand helps memorization better than typing on the keyboard, because writing makes you more engaged in class. Don’t believe in that? Try it next time!
Study consistently, little by little
Besides having the right tool, you also need to have the right schedule. There are very few subjects where you can do well by starting your study only two weeks before the finals. But Digital Senior also recognizes some of the students have a hectic schedule that makes it almost impossible to study every day.
Studying consistently, however, doesn’t really require a lot of effort. It means going for all the lectures (or watching lecture recordings) and be present for all the tutorials. Ask questions immediately after each lesson. And make use of quizzes and mid-term as good motivations for you to study more and harder during preparation period.
An anonymous lecturer puts it perfectly: “Lazy students turn up for all lectures.” If you have ever tried understanding a university-level concept by yourself, you understand why you literally double or quadruple your study time if you don’t go for lecture.
Apply the concepts to the real life
There is no better way to learn than to apply what you are learning. You will realize that what you learn in textbook are not just “theoretical”, but are relevant and even useful to your life. That’s the power of application.
Application need not always be hands-on. In fact, a lot of things that students learn in university are not hands-on in nature. But you can apply by observing, reading and listening. If you study economics, reading newspaper will help you appreciate those economic theories in action. If you study civil engineering, the physical society, with its varied architecture, is your classroom. If you study psychology, each and every human being you meet is your subject of study.
Try to see the world from the lens of your own study. That’s much more fun and a great motivation for you to learn more.
Draw a mind map
A mind map is also a powerful tool because it mimics how your brain works. Your brain doesn’t work in linear flow of logic, but with association of ideas. It also works with key words rather than chunks of sentences. Hence a mind map is no other than a representation of what happens when your brain is processing information. It is therefore “brain-friendly”. You will be amazed by how easy it is for you to remember concepts once you draw a mindmap to process your learning.
Depending on the nature of your subject, you can draw a mind map for each chapter if it is content heavy, or just one for the whole module. You can also make use of some online software if you foresee your mind map to be complex.
Redo the same questions, derive the new insights
By now you should know that practice makes perfect. But in order to practice, you don’t have to put together pages and pages of practice papers. The better option is to redo your tutorial questions.
Those questions are handpicked by your professor. Even if your professor has gone through the answers with you, it is still very beneficial that go through the whole process of cracking the problems again.
Waste of time? Not at all! If it is a relatively simple question, redoing it helps reinforce your memory of basic concepts. If it is a difficult question, it is unlikely that you have mastered all the steps and concepts at one go. There may be missing links in logical thinking. You may forget what the next step in solution should be, and need some prompt or hint from others. Hence redoing the same questions helps you pinpoint that gap in solving the same problems and really consolidate your understanding.
Have a personal secretary: A notebook of important concepts and questions
As you are revising notes or checking answers for your practice papers, you can note down all the tricky concepts and important questions at one place. You can have a physical notebook or simply a word document in your computer. Once you have collected all the important points, the notebook is a powerful tool as you can just read through everything even just before the exams start. It is a condensed version of the things that you need to pay special attention to.
But do be selective in choosing what goes into the notebook. The bar should be rather high. It really should contain concepts/questions that are difficult to understand and master. As your revision progresses, your understanding should improve too. As a result, your notes should shorten as you strike out things you have absorbed. Ideally a few days before the actual final exam, your notebook should not exceed 3-4 pages that contain information that you can quickly read through right before you enter the exam hall.
Understand your Examinations
Some students only care to understand their examinations a few weeks before the exams kick in. That is the reason why most of them don’t do well. Your understanding should begin as soon as you start a module.
You need to understand the exam format. If it is MCQ based, you wouldn’t be too concerned about graph drawing and proving. Instead you should be more concerned about “factual questions” without much analysis going into them.
If you exam calls for writing essays, you need to spend more time reading extra materials, understanding author’s arguments and memorizing some examples.
You can also ask your professor if your exam is going to be qualitative or quantitative in nature. For a module like Information Technology, it can be tested either way. It is important that you understand what will be tested and study with a focus. Be directionally correct. Once you do that, you will be way ahead of your peers when it comes time to revise for exams and they begin to wonder why you are so well prepared.
What’s Next ?
Perhaps in conclusion, all the 7 tips aside, you need to understand yourself. Why do you want to or need to study? What keeps you procrastinating? Have some dialogue with yourself and then apply the 7 tips above. Trust they will see improvement in your results if you apply them consistently. Each of these 7 tips will help you bring your studying skills and therefore ‘A’ probability one notch higher, but not all 7 of them at one shot. Just take one tip from this article and implement it and you will see yourself studying more effortlessly than before.