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How to study more effectively

Students are always faced with tests and examinations throughout their studies. Being prepared and knowing how to study properly is the key to passing. Every person retains information differently – some students are visual learners while others can memorise paragraphs of text. Everyone needs to find their strength and use it to their advantage.

No matter what your preferred method of revision entails, there are still some basic tips that you can use to study more effectively. Being prepared and organised are the two most important things to ensure at the start of the studying process. This will put you in the right frame of mind and encourage a positive attitude towards the task.

The next most important way to get a headstart on your studying is to start early. Revision isn’t something that can be left to the night before a test or exam. Starting early will help you to avoid panic and frustration the day before a test – especially if you come across a topic you don’t fully understand. Here are some more tips on how to study effectively and pass:

1. Be properly prepared

During lessons and lectures, write down all the important dates in a diary and note when the tests and exams are. This will help you to prepare well in advance for homework, projects, assignment and tests. Know the dates of your final exams once they are released and plan your study schedule immediately.

2. Take proper notes during class

Writing notes on the most important information during class will help you to process the information more easily when studying. Use your notes as a tool for quickly revising the basics before a test. These notes should supplement the textbooks; if you need to understand something in more depth, refer to the textbook for more detail and examples.

3. Ask questions during class

If there is anything that you don’t understand, don’t be afraid to ask. Your teachers are there to educate you and make sure that you process the information. If you’re too shy to speak up in front of the class, go speak to the teacher afterward and get them to explain further. Even if you think you understand the basics, further questions can help to solidify your understanding of a topic.

4. Review your class notes every evening

When you get home (or before you go to bed), spend 30 minutes or so just reviewing all your notes from the day. This will help to convert the topics from short-term memory into long-term memory. It will help you to recall information faster and will also allow you to ask questions the next day if there is anything you don’t understand.

5. Make a study plan and stick to it

Plan your study schedule in advance and include breaks, meal times and exercise. Look at the chapters in your textbook and use it as a guide to tackle the topics one by one. Prioritise those topics that require more time and understanding. Set goals for each study session and know where you should be by the end of each session.

6. Avoid distractions

It is easy to lose focus when trying to revise your coursework. Distractions are everywhere, especially in the digital era. Smartphones, social media and music with lyrics are ubiquitous distractions that make you waste time and lose concentration. Put your phone in another room when studying to avoid being distracted by messages, notifications and apps. Use your phone as a reward for completing a solid study session, if necessary.

7. Choose a study area

The best place to study is somewhere quiet and well-lit. It helps if there is fresh air and enough space to spread your notes and textbooks out. Whether you prefer to study at home or in a library, make sure that you can think clearly and see properly. A dark room will make you tired and too much noise will distract you. It may help you to put headphones in your ears without playing music, just to drown out any background noise.

8. Study in short sessions

The best way to retain concentration is to study in short bursts and take regular breaks. Split your study schedule into 30 or 45-minute sessions and give yourself a 10-minute break in between. This will break the session into bite-sized chunks and allow you to refresh your brain regularly. Tackling information bit by bit will allow you to memorise the content more effectively.

9. Simplify your class notes

Your class notes will be a condensed version of the textbook. When studying, write down further notes to condense this information even more. Studies have proven that making hand-written notes is more effective than typing and reading. Underline or highlight keywords from your notes and create visual aids if necessary to help you recall the information more easily.

10. Study with a small group

Most people prefer to study alone, but revising content with a small group of focussed students can also help you to understand topics better. An interactive study environment can be used to clarify knowledge and keep your mind engaged in the topics. Quiz each other and get your classmates to explain their understanding of a hard topic. This can benefit the whole group.

Studying for tests and exams is all about working smarter, not harder. This is a skill that will benefit you throughout your life, but it does require dedication, concentration and patience. These 10 simple tips will help you to better prepare yourself for exams and improve your results. Remember, small sacrifices now will lead to everlasting rewards and better results. It will also help you to boost your confidence and be proud of your hard work.

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Written by Joshua Oates

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