Let’s be honest here – no one likes examinations. Preparing for them is stressful, dreadful, and representative of all kinds of hell. Whether you’re in secondary school or university, you probably hate examinations with the same passion. But the good news is, it doesn’t have to be that way. Everyone tells you to study hard, and that’s stating the obvious. We’re here to tell you how you can study smart. Here are 7 effective studying tips that will help you out in excelling in your next examination.
Create a study plan and stick to it
A study plan is a simple concept, but students often neglect the importance of one. After all, it’s just studying, how complicated can it get, right? Wrong. Here’s what a study plan’s going to do for you. Penning down your goals has a much more profound effect as compared to mentally noting it down. You see, if you make a mental list of what you want to achieve, you’re definitely going to forget about it an hour later. A study plan comprises of what you want to achieve for the week, broken up into days, and then further broken up into hours.
It gives you the best idea of how much time you have and how to make the most effective use of it. A study plan prevents you from getting stuck on topics and spending too much time on things you already know. But a study plan alone isn’t going to get the job done; you have to actually stick to it. Relying on your study plan is what’s going to hold you accountable for how you spend your day preparing for your examination and keep track of your performance.
Naturally, you shouldn’t spend hours creating a study plan; that’s poor usage of your time. It shouldn’t take more than half an hour. If you’re taking longer than that to create a study plan, you’re probably very easily distracted [Read: 5 Proven Methods to Boost Concentration and Your Grades], which brings us to our next point.
Practice by testing yourself
This is a strategy that not many students employ, but it’s proven to be effective when it comes to memorization. Each time you study a topic, test yourself by closing the book and asking yourself questions about that specific topic. You can do this by writing your own questions or getting a friend to test you. Practicing this strategy will give you a pretty good idea of how you stand in regards to that specific topic and whether you’ve been able to remember the important points.
But beyond that, it’s equally important to not just memorise the contents, but to understand them as well. If you find it difficult to understand a specific topic, you might want to look at resources that lie beyond your textbook, which is what we’re going to talk about next.
Don’t get it? Google it
The advancement of technology has led to an influx of information on all sorts of topics that double as external resources for whatever subject or topic you have difficulty with. There are in-depth guides and even YouTube videos if you require more visual illustrations. Many students overlook or undermine the power of the Internet, assuming that they’re not going to find what they need to know.
Textbooks are known to explain things in needlessly complex manners. Their phrasings often include complicated jargon that confuse students; and that’s no help. Chances are, a Google search can provide you with a more simplified definition, which will frame certain topics in a way that you’ll be able to understand with relative ease.
Study with a group of friends
Having peers physically present around you creates a conducive environment. One of the important factors of success is to surround yourself with like-minded people. However, if you know you’re lazy and unmotivated, that doesn’t apply to you. It’s understandable that not everyone feels comfortable studying with others around them, but you won’t know until you actually give it a shot. The idea behind this tip is that you’ll be able to ask each other questions and have discussions about the topics you’re studying. Having someone explain something to you in a way that they understand can act as a valuable resource, especially if they’re able to simplify it. Every individual in a study group is able to provide value for everyone else.
Take calculated breaks sparingly
There are only two instances where you’re allowed to take a break. One of them is when you find yourself completely stuck and you feel your brain fried with smoking emitting from your ears. The other instance is when you’ve completed a milestone that warrants a well-earned break. Under no other circumstances should you take a break. While others might advocate taking frequent short breaks, that strategy can often encourage frequent distractions and limit your effectivity in studying. In other words, you’ll be looking forward to your break before you’ve even begun, and that’s just going to ruin your entire study session.
Conversely, if you take a break when you feel like you’ve earned it, it acts as a form of reward and sets a mental expectation that you’ll have to study for a certain amount of time or cover a certain number of topics before you’re allowed to take a break. This allows you to stretch your limits further and apply more focus into what’s in front of you.
Memorise what you understand, not what you read
Too many students spend too much time memorising confusing definitions and 50-word sentences. That takes up far too much time, and you’re almost most definitely going to forget it. Here’s how you should be memorising these complex sentences. First and foremost, you’re going to identify the important keywords. These keywords are usually recurring words throughout the topic. After which, you’re going to phrase the rest of the sentence in your own words, while implementing those keywords.
If you’re able to understand your own phrasing better, then that’s what you should be memorising. It’ll prove to be a lot less challenging and a whole lot more fluid. Unless your marker’s a textbook Nazi, you’re not going to lose marks for not regurgitating memorised definitions word-for-word. Additionally, you’ll be able to commit them to memory with a lot more ease.
Write notes instead of simply reading
You’re not taking a “read-my-mind” examination, you’re taking a written examination. That means you’re going to need to practice some writing. It might seem a little silly to associate the two, but hear me out. Writing out notes provides you with a visual depiction of what your answers will look like, which will aid you greatly in remembering certain things. It’s an excellent memorisation technique that’ll prove to be useful.
[Read: 6 Ways to Improve Your Writing Skills]