There comes a point when every student asks themselves what they could do in order to improve their performance on exams and in class. Whether you feel like your current study habits simply aren’t efficient, or you’ve realized that the learning methods you used in high school can’t be applied quite as easily to university, studying can become a difficult and challenging experience at any time.
Fortunately, there are a number of proven and effective tips you could utilize in an effort to improve your learning abilities, and here are just some great techniques for studying smarter, not harder:
Internalize instead of reading
While most of us consider studying to be reading and re-reading the necessary material, this is actually not an effective method of retaining knowledge for most individuals. Although an important first step to learning, this form of studying only leads to quick forgetting when it’s the only method used. Instead, your aim should be to internalize knowledge by being actively engaged in the study matter.
Whether that means organizing your material according to topics, creating a mind map to visualize ideas, or even asking and answering questions relating to the topic at hand, being more immersed in the study process will allow you to retain knowledge more quickly and easily.
Create a study plan in advance
Regardless of the subject, studying can be quite a challenging and demanding experience for many students, and for a number of different reasons. If you find it difficult to concentrate on the learning material, creating a study plan could be another efficient technique for studying smarter.
This often means analyzing your current learning style and habits, assessing your list of responsibilities, evaluating your daily schedule, and setting aside dedicated time for studying each day. If you have a set itinerary to adhere to, you will likely be more motivated to sit down and push yourself to learn during that specific timeframe, being quite a manageable goal to strive towards.
Utilize helpful study notes
Sometimes, simply finding additional learning material to explain subjects further is one of the most difficult aspects of studying. In those instances, Australian students who attend Griffith University, for example, often utilize extensive Griffith notes to help with their studies.
By offering a large database of notes, assignments, and other learning material previous students have compiled on a wide range of subjects, such study notes provide students with additional resources and new perspectives on topics, which they could effortlessly access from anywhere. This content then allows them to process and memorize new information more easily and could be quite helpful if you’re struggling in this area as well.
Study in shorter chunks of time
On the other hand, many American students prefer to study using the “chunking” method, which has proved to be quite an efficient technique. Instead of cramming all of their responsibilities into one or two major study sessions before an exam, these students study in shorter chunks of time each day, most commonly 30-minute sessions.
It turns out that this method allows students to process information much more efficiently compared to “marathon” sessions, allowing them to learn the subject matter more easily, and retain it for a longer period of time. In case concentration and long study times are an issue for you as well, this technique could be quite helpful.
Attempt to test your knowledge
Quizzing yourself on the material you’re studying can be another good way of studying smarter. It allows you to see how much you’ve learned so far, assesses the level you’re currently at, and even notices any weak areas you could improve on, all while actively engaging your brain and helping to improve your memory. To that end, you might want to utilize some apps for making quizzes and flashcards, or even try writing down a set of questions relating to your subject and answering them to the best of your ability, in order to test how well you’ve retained knowledge up to this point.
It’s often been said that you have only truly learned a subject once you can clearly and efficiently explain it to others. This theory has been proven time and time again, as research shows that individuals who learn the material with the goal of teaching it to others tend to retain information more permanently compared to those who simply study for themselves.
If you want to test this theory out as well, simply act as a teacher and try to explain your material as best as you can, using your own words. Whether you do this alone or with a study partner, presenting the subject aloud can help you understand and retain information more easily.
Evidently, there are a number of different methods you could utilize in order to study smarter, not harder. However, keep in mind that finding the best learning approach requires plenty of time and commitment, so remember to stay patient and persistent in order to achieve your goals.