1. Set yourself up for success
Don’t overlook your study environment
While a designated study area will help you concentrate and get in the ‘zone’ while you’re studying, it does pay to switch up your study environment every now and then. Try your favourite local café or, if the weather is looking good, try out in your backyard or outdoor area, or even a local park.
Silence your phone (and turn off vibrate mode), turn off the TV, close down non-study related tabs on your internet browser and, within reason of course, try to minimise other distractions. Avoid the temptation to pick up your mobile and scroll through social media (don’t fall down the TikTok rabbit hole)! Better yet, put the phone out of arms reach.
Make sure you’re getting enough sleep
We all know that insufficient sleep can negatively impact your mental and physical health, but it can also impact your studying. Sleep is crucial for effective learning. Consistent nights of good sleep will pay off, and not just for your studying.
Play the right tunes
While some people prefer the quiet, for many people listening to music while studying helps them concentrate. Music can also help relieve stress and lift your mood; it can be motivating too.
While of course you can listen to any music you like when studying, many find that instrumental, classical or some good lo-fi beats are good for studying. So, make a playlist of your favourite study time tunes.
Take regular breaks
You need to give your brain a break, so make sure you take regular breaks to give yourself a chance to refresh.
Find the right study technique that works best for you
While it might feel like it, endless reading and re-reading course material isn’t an effective method of studying, as you’re reading the information but might not be processing it. Here’s some trusted study techniques…
2. PQ4R Method
PQ4R is an acronym for Preview, Question and the 4 R’s, Read, Reflect, Recite and Review.
This leaning method aims to help you digest the information you read and improve your understanding of the particular topic you’re studying.
- Preview: Before you start reading, skim the material, noting the headers, subheadings, and highlighted text.
- Question: Based on the material you’ve skimmed, come up with some questions about the material.
- Read: Read through the material one section at a time and see if you can find answers to your questions.
- Reflect: Did you end up answering all your questions? Or do you have new questions?
- Recite: Speak or write down a summary of what you’ve just read, in your own words.
- Review: Go over the material again.
3. The Feynman Technique
The Feynman Technique is about explaining a concept in your own words soyou are more likely to understand it faster.
- On a piece of paper write the topic you’re studying at the top.
- Then, in your own words explain the topic or concept, like you’re teaching it to someone else.
- Review what you’ve written, compare it to your study material and identify any points you had wrong. If needed then go back through the material and work out the correct answer.
- Finally, if there are any sections in your writing where you used technical terms or complex language, go back, and rewrite these sections in simpler terms.
4. Colour-coded notes
Studies have shown that colour can improve memory performance and writing in colour is a great way to organise or categorise what you’re learning. It also helps when you’re reading back over your material.
If you’re going to run with colour coded notes, keep this in mind:
- Just colour the main or most important information, don’t colour code everything!
- Use red for key points
- Use yellow for important information
- Organise topics or categorises by colour
- Read the key information out loud
5. Sample questions and quizzes
If the sample questions, essays, and quizzes are there in your course material, do them!!
And if you’ve completed the sample questions or quizzes then go through your course material and solve problems like the ones you might expect to see on a test. Or create your own questions or topics and write short, sharp paragraph answers.
This will not only give you practice for any tests it’ll also help you retain the information you’re learning.