How to Study Effectively
Updated on 11 May 2023 • 7 min read
Have you been struggling to study effectively? Sometimes it seems as if we have more pages to read than time on the clock.
However, if you decide to study smart instead of studying hard, you are more likely to get the outcome that you desire. In this article, you will be given the best ways to study.
Organize Your Learning Process
To start with, organize your entire learning process to study more effectively.
Choose the Place to Study
Assign a particular place in your home where you get your studying done. You may also consider whether or not you will be studying in a group (as it is usually recommended while learning a new language) or by yourself. Having this in place helps you to approach your studying in a more systematic and efficient manner.
Define Your Goals
When you formulate a target, a specific destination is established to work towards. This creates a guiding light that encourages and steers your educational efforts. Implementing the S.M.A.R.T. goals technique aids in the creation of objectives that increase the likelihood of successfully achieving them.
Prioritize Your Tasks
Organizing assignments in order of importance is an indispensable phase in every study session. By using task prioritization techniques, you can reduce anxiety levels by focusing on one task at a time and experiencing a sense of authority over their workload. Without prioritizing assignments, valuable time may be squandered on trivial assignments, adversely affecting productivity.
With so many distractions it is difficult to stay focused on studying. There are many things that can distract us from studying: social media, messaging apps, noises, hunger or thirst, and even procrastination. You can remove them and you’ll study more effectively and focus on the task at hand by identifying which factors distract you.
To cope with technology distractions, you can use website blockers or apps that limit your access to certain apps or websites during study sessions. For noise reduction - try using noise-canceling headphones, playing white noise or classical music, or find a quiet study space.
To overcome procrastination, try breaking up your study sessions into smaller, manageable tasks, using a timer to stay focused, or using a study buddy to keep yourself accountable. And make sure you have healthy snacks and drinks on hand during your study sessions, and take regular breaks to eat and hydrate.
Use Background Sounds
A study published in the Journal of Behavioral and Brain Science found that listening to natural sounds during learning can enhance cognitive performance and improve mood. The study showed that participants who listened to natural sounds had significantly better mood and task performance than those who worked in silence. So incorporating background sounds, such as sounds of the forest or ocean, can improve concentration and promote a positive learning experience.
Apply Study Methods
You will also need to determine what study style is best for you. By implementing effective study methods, you can enhance your productivity and achieve higher levels of success. Let’s take a look at approaches that can help you to better understand how to learn effectively.
The first way to learn effectively is to employ the principles of active recall. This approach has been found to be the most efficient, and quickest way to study materials. This approach holds that in order to get the best out of studying, you need to actively improve memory. This moves students from a passive approach to studying such as simply reading silently to an approach where the student interacts with the material.
You will find that there are a number of different ways to implement an active recall method. Two popular methods of active learning are the SQ3R reading comprehension method and the Feynman Method.
The purpose of the SQ3R method is to help you develop active reading skills. The idea is to survey the text first, engage the brain, and enhance comprehension. Next, jot down and recite answers to engrain concepts and ideas in long-term memory for future recall.
Another approach, the Feynman Method, involves simplifying and summarizing complex concepts to deepen one's understanding of the subject matter. It requires the learner to explain the idea in simple language, identify knowledge gaps, and revisit the source material to fill those gaps. The process concludes by refining the explanation and repeating it until the concept is fully understood.
Take Notes the Right Way
There are many powerful reasons that all students should actively take notes in class and while studying. These reasons include:
Taking notes is helpful in keeping your mind alert. By actively writing notes, you are interacting with the information. This helps to reduce drowsiness and prevents distractions.
The act of deciphering what information to jot down helps to keep your mind engaged in what you are reading or listening to. Taking notes gives you an opportunity to highlight or emphasize certain bits of information. It also helps with the organization of said information. The highlighted and organized information that you take during class or in a study session helps to make your future study sessions or review of class information much more effective.
Taking good notes in class or during a study session provides you with an abbreviated yet potent set of information for effective studying. When it becomes necessary to study for an exam or a test, you can easily draw on your notes and spend less time reinforcing the most important points.
Let’s look at some best ways of taking notes to help you effectively study.
Cornell Method of Note-Taking
This system of note-taking was developed by Walter Pauk in the 1940s. This approach to notetaking is systematic and more condensed. It can be used by high school students or students at the college level.
The Cornell method entails a student dividing a page into three sections. A keyword section, the notes section, and a section for a summary of the lesson. In this method, long sentences are avoided while taking notes to reduce the bulk. The keyword section only features words or questions that are most important, which students can easily reflect on when reviewing their notes.
The outlining method of note taking is ideal for you when you are trying to discover how to study more effectively. It includes creating an outline of the course, article or a book. In this method, information is summarized in brief bullet points. The major points are at farthest to the left while minor points are indented.
Mind Mapping Method
The mapping method involves the use of a graphic representation of that which is being studied. It shows how the various pieces of information to be absorbed relates to each other. The mind mapping method can be coupled with the outline method or the Cornell note-taking system quite effectively.
Another effective way to study is to consider when trying to uncover how to study better is bite-sized learning. The bite-sized learning method means just what the name suggests – studying information in small bits or spending very short periods studying at a time.
With the constant reduction of attention span among humans in the 21st century, it is becoming more and more important that you spend 1-15 minutes at a time on any given learning objective. The focus that you will have in this short period of time makes learning more effective.
Teach Someone Else
It is always said that the best way to better learn a subject is to teach it to someone else. One of the most effective ways to retain information is to share it with others. You could develop a habit of mentoring students in your class who are having a hard time grasping the concepts being taught.
Another creative way to deepen your understanding of a subject by teaching others is by starting a blog series on the topic that you are studying. You will be able to edify others while being better prepared to succeed in your next exam.
Spaced repetition systems refers to the practice of allowing space between each study session. By integrating time intervals in your study schedule, you will be able to retain more even if you spend less time studying.
This works by tapping into the potential of what is called the spacing effect. This speaks to the fact that our brain is better able to learn new concepts by using intervals between exposure to the information.
How to study more effectively with this method? Let’s say you have an exam scheduled for next week. You should have a study session today. Your next study session would be two days from today. You should then have a final study session the day before the test.
Remember to Take Care of Yourself
Taking care of yourself increases your overall well-being. So while you are preparing for an exam or just studying a new topic - remember about yourself and here are some simple ways to do it.
The struggle we all have with procrastination is real and should not be overlooked. One of the best strategies for minimizing distractions is the Pomodoro technique. This approach with its best study intervals helps to keep you from becoming overwhelmed by studying and from burnouts. It includes stipulated work intervals and breaks.
An example of studying effectively with the Pomodoro study technique is as follows:
- Study for 25 minutes.
- SDistractions will come. When they do, write them down on a piece of paper.
- SAt the end of the 25-minute period, place a check mark on your paper.
- SBreak from studying for 5 minutes.
- SAfter doing this 4 times, take a 30-minute break.
- SRepeat the entire process.
This study method was developed by Francesco Cirillo. This time management technique was inspired by the popular tomato-shaped kitchen timer. Breaks are critical to learning effectively. These breaks help to maintain performance while studying, reduce the stress associated with studying, increase focus, and help with memory retention.
Meditation improves focus and concentration, which are crucial components of effective learning. By training the mind to focus on the present moment, you can better avoid distractions and maintain a high level of concentration during study sessions.
Exercise not only combats fatigue but also elevates energy levels. If you find yourself lacking the drive to study, try incorporating a workout routine into your daily schedule. It doesn't have to be a full hour at the gym; a quick 20-minute session at home or a brisk stroll around your neighborhood will suffice.
Study Smarter, Not Harder
Learning to study more effectively is a critical part of student success. While all of these methods have been proven to be effective, everybody learns differently; therefore, it is best for you to try each of these methods to see which is most effective for you. Fight the temptation to be lazy in this process. By finding the approach that works best for you, you can achieve your academic goals while maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
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