Feel like you’re working hard but still can’t reach your study goals? Here are some quick tips to help you make the most out of study time.
1) Study with a partner or in groups, and peer teach.
Rather than living in a cave with your nose in the books all day, grab a friend from your class and study with them. Group studying helps you to engage and process the information more deeply. Of course, it means more than just carpooling to the library and studying with your headphones on. Have fun with it. Play charades guessing the characters of The Great Gatsby
. Draw a picture of your modern interpretation of the Boston Tea Party. Race to solve an algebra problem first and discuss it afterwards. You can also divide the class topics and take turns teaching them as creatively as you like. Sometimes the best way to learn something is to teach it, even if you haven’t mastered it yet. Actively engaging the information with someone else not only helps you to learn, but makes studying more enjoyable. Just avoid turning your sessions into social hour.
2) Step into your teacher’s shoes.
Ask yourself “If I am the teacher, what would I put on the test?” You have probably experienced a few of your teacher’s tests and quizzes by now. Learn from them for the next test. The structure is usually the same, and teachers have specific types of information that they want you to learn. Remember, teachers don’t expect you to memorize every single detail, just the ones they feel is important. It’s your job to figure out what that is. And not everything is important. Don’t be that student who turns a stack of notes into a highlighter coloring book. If in doubt, by all means, ask your teacher.
3) Paint bigger pictures.
Find ways to connect what you are learning to real life or to other related concepts. It’s harder to remember each piece of a puzzle individually than it is to recall the completed picture. Find ways to relate pieces of information to each other and cluster them.
Try this exercise: memorize these numbers in order. 6…….2…….9…….1…….3…….8…….4…….0…….5
Now try to memorize these numbers 629….138….405
The bottom is easier right? It is the same order of numbers, but put into the context of bigger numbers. Creating context gives information meaning and also turns learning into an experience rather than simple absorption.
4) Feed your brain.
A hungry brain is an ineffective one. Those Snickers
commercials were not kidding. Your brain needs the proper nutrients to keep it going. Because of this, what you eat and drink also play a huge role in how sharp your brain is. Healthy foods provide nutrients to your brain cells to keep them energized; junk foods increase fatigue and tend to lead to the infamous food coma. So ditch the bag of fried potato chips for a healthy snack bar and a yogurt.
Don’t forget the H20. Hydration is equally important. Your brain cells need water to function properly and increase their efficiency. Staying hydrated is known to combat anxiety and increase short-term and long-term memory function.
No need to break your piggy bank to buy that bottle of high-end water. You can turn any bottle of H20 into “Smart Water” by simply drinking it.
5) Take breaks.
Your brain is like a muscle. It needs exercise to make it stronger, but it can also tire if you overwork it. Imagine that each minute of studying is a push-up and you have to complete 100. If you try to do them all at once, you’ll fatigue to the point where you can’t continue. Essentially you burn out and, despite how hard you try to push, you can’t get your chest off the ground. Your brain is no different. You can try to pound the information in after studying non-stop for an hour, but learn little. On the contrary, if you divide the 100 push-ups into 10 sets, taking a 2-minute break in between, completing 100 is not that bad. If you divide studying into 15-30 minute blocks with quick breaks in between, your brain will feel refreshed, grateful and ready for the next challenge you throw at it.