Study Tips

The routines that you get into for studying are really important.  

Study period lengths

The best way to study is to focus for between 40 and 90 minutes, then take a 10 minute break where you do some kind of exercise. Regular exercise really helps with your concentration when studying.

Every student spends a lot of time studying and almost every one of them would like their studying to be more efficient.

Here are some basic tips to manage your time better when studying

Don't make your breaks too long. 40 minutes of studying and then a half hour break is not effective because you then get totally out of the flow. Of course you will need a longer break once or twice per day for lunch and dinner, but your other breaks should be much shorter.

Scheduling

Setting strict times for studying is a good way to go. It's really hard to be disciplined about this sort of thing, so you probably need someone to help you keep to the routine that you set. Other strategies to help you keep to your schedule: you can put a reminder on your phone to buzz you when it's time to study, or you can write the times you've set for your study above your desk.

Make sure to do your most difficult studying when you are most alert. You can do the slightly easier stuff at other times when you might not have quite as much energy or focus.

Set a list of your to-dos

It's important to write a list of all the things you need to study. Plan it carefully, and be very specific on this list. So instead of saying “study math,” write something specific such as “read pages 34-58 of the mathematics textbook.” When you accomplish each task tick it off the list.

Cramming before exams

Everyone tells you to pace your studying throughout the year and not to wait until the end of the year to try and fit everything into a couple of weeks' worth of intense studying. Whilst you should study throughout the whole year, the truth is that cramming does work. An extra burst of intense studying just before exams helps you to remember a lot more for that particular exam. It's fresh on your mind when you study the material just before your exams.

A few weeks before your exams you need to really change your life and become a bit of a hermit. Don't see your friends too much, stop watching all television, and stop doing many of the other things in your life that you normally do. Then start studying REALLY hard. You can get in many hours of study every day (including the weekends), and doing this will help you a lot in getting good results for your exams.

If you leave studying to the very last minute (a few days before the exam!), then it's too late. A powerful way to avoid leaving studying to the last minute is to really plan it ahead of time. Set a deadline of 2 or 4 weeks before the exam to start becoming a hermit. From this time on, study really hard to get everything complete. But make sure you don't make this last minute burst of studying an excuse to do nothing for the rest of the year!

Another important factor is regular exercise. If you are studying for 50 minutes, then take a 10 minute break. DON'T WATCH TV DURING THIS BREAK, because it will interfere with your proper study routine. Instead, the best thing you can do is 10 minutes of exercise. It can be a quick run, some aerobics or whatever other exercise you like doing, but make it something that's quick. Exercise gets your mind off the studying and helps you concentrate.

Watch what you eat

Eating a lot of sugary foods is really bad for your concentration. You need to eat foods with a minimum of sugar, and also reduce white bread and other simple carbohydrates. Coffee is actually not too bad for your concentration if you drink it only occasionally.

Other important tips

·         Get plenty of sleep. Most people need at least 8 hours per night. Your brain needs sleep to recover and to help remember information more effectively.

·         Choose carefully what you do during your relaxation and down time. Relaxing your mind is important during study breaks, but TV, video games and other stimulating activities will not allow you to relax properly. Exercise, on the other hand, is a great thing to do during a break

Minimize distractions

Eliminate everything that might be a distraction in the area where you are studying. Make sure there's nothing nearby that might be tempting. If you love surfing the net, turn off the internet while you study. If you are totally into video games, discipline yourself to only play them after you have finished your studying as a reward. Don't put the video games anywhere near your study area.

Watching TV whilst studying is a very bad idea and makes your studying really ineffective. You need to minimize all distractions and TV is a big one even if it's just on in the background.

Your study environment

·         Make sure that people know not to interrupt you whilst you're studying. Put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door if you need one.

·         Turn off your phone and internet while you're studying.

·         Definitely turn off the TV!

·         Make sure that any music you listen to is actually helping you study and not a distraction. Music is ok, but whether it helps or hurts is a personal thing. You're the only one that will know.

·         A straight back chair that is not too relaxing is much more effective. Don't use a chair that's too comfortable or one where you tend to lean back or hunch over.

·         Good lighting and temperature are essential. If it's too hot it will be harder to concentrate, so it's better if the temperature is a little cool.

Time of day when to study

Studying at the same time each and every day helps. Most people find it more effective to study during the day rather than at night, because they can concentrate better. But if you are a real night owl, then you may find that your ability to concentrate at night is just fine.

Total 100% focus for at least 40 minutes at a time

One of the most important things you can do to study effectively is to focus totally on your studying for at least 40 minutes at a time. Studying for 10 minutes here and there just will not cut it. Instead of quick little snippets, make sure you get in at least 40 or 50 minutes of total focus. While you're doing this, don't let yourself get distracted with anything else! Just focus intensely for the entire time. When you are finished, then relax, and play a video game or watch TV to reward yourself.

You also don't want to study for too long at a time, because your brain gets fatigued and after a while it needs a rest. 90 minutes is probably the maximum you should go before taking a 10 minute break, and usually 60 minutes is enough.

Some other tips

·         Travelling time – make good use of your time travelling to and from school each day. This adds up to a lot of time and you can use it to get in some extra studying or reading.

·         What do you do with your time between classes? Do you use this time productively or do you waste it?

·         Sitting closer to the front of class tends to make it easier to concentrate.

These are a few basic tips for effective studying. Apply these ideas when you're studying and soon you will see a big improvement in how you manage your time and your study productivity.

 

Study Methods

One of the things that separates great students from those that are average is the methods they use for studying. Some methods are a lot faster and more effective than others.

Here are some of the different methods of studying:

·         Reading a text book

·         Listening to audio or watching videos

·         Taking notes from your text book

·         Writing questions from your text book, then answering them later

·         Taking past exams or practice exams

·         Mind maps

The fastest way to take in new information is by reading. You can read a lot faster than a person can talk. Also when you are reading, you can quickly skip through the sections that you already know or that don't apply. Some students, however, do find that they learn a lot better from audio or video material.

Using a method that is a bit more active is a powerful tool for recall and learning. This more active method could be, for example, taking notes when you read a text book, or highlighting the areas that you think are most important. Another very powerful study method is to write a bunch of questions from topics that are covered in the text book. You can even try to think “What will they ask me in the exam?” and write those questions down as you are reading the book. Then a few days later you can answer them and see if you remember the answers.

Probably the most powerful study method consists of taking past exams or practice exams. When you do the practice exam, if you don't know the answer you can research the material later. This lets you find and study the right answers for all the questions that you can't answer and also the questions that you get wrong. You can't kid yourself when answering exam questions. You get to see if you really know the information or not. So any time you can get hold of past exams you should definitely do so and use them to prepare yourself for your upcoming exam. Depending on what you are studying past exams might even have very similar questions to those in future exams, so if you know the answers for past exams you will be well prepared.

Some people find mind maps really effective as a way of taking notes and remembering those notes. You can get free software for creating mind maps here (http://freemind.sourceforge.net).

These are some suggested methods for studying. No matter which of them you pick, make sure that you utilize the study methods that are most effective for you.