Top 10 Tips to Study Smarter

Why do you think education is important?

While this question can be thoroughly argued and debated but I believe that the primary skill that every student learns in school or college, is learning how to learn. 

And this is a critical life skill that everyone needs but unfortunately, many students lack it. Your child might love going to school and learning might be fun for them but if that enthusiasm is not translated into good grades, then you have to work harder.

To score like a topper means learning how to learn and study smarter.
So, here are 10 ways to teach your child how to do smart study and score higher.

1. Writing notes is better than typing

When it comes to note-making, the good old-fashioned method of writing your notes on paper is still a more efficient method than typing your notes on a laptop. This is because writing down what we need to study helps us remember things better. Writing involves a deeper cognitive process of remembering the material than typing and hence, results in good memorisation of concepts. However, if you plan to revisit the material again and you have to write a lot, then typing is a good option as well. 

2. Testing frequently is a must

Many students make the mistake of reading passively without understanding the concept. It might seem like a good idea to memorise by reading the same material multiple times but it doesn’t really work the same way. Students who score higher test themselves frequently as it helps them to prepare for every type of question in the exam. It also improves the memorization of concepts during exam time and helps them relieve stress and anxiety that happens before the exam.

3. Use multiple sources to learn one thing

Whenever you are studying a topic, how many sources do you refer to? 

Some students use only one source, the main text, but most prefer to read every source they come across. As online learning came to the forefront, more students and classroom models turned online with an abundance of information available on every subject. Learning the same topic from multiple sources gives you different perspectives and helps you retain information in a better way as it engages with different parts of your brain. Additionally, you teach yourself through a variety of methods. For example, you study a topic deeply or teach it to somebody else and clear up your own doubts. You may also use traditional methods like mind mapping and note-making as well.

4. Speak up and engage more in class

If this was the pre-pandemic era, I would have told you to sit at the front desks in the classroom for better concentration. Sitting in the front helps you concentrate and learn better. However, since this is the post-pandemic world and online learning is a thing, I will ask you to be more active during your online classes. Dozing off or zoning out in between lectures causes a high risk for students. Not participating in the classroom is similar to sitting on the last benches of a classroom. So, to study smarter you need to engage with your teacher. Ask questions, raise a hand if you know the answer, and give additional points if you think they are relevant to the topic being taught. 40% of your lessons can be learned ahead if you pay attention in class!

5. Connect the dots

Whenever you are reading a textbook, every piece of information should connect to something you have learned. Avoid learning concepts in isolation. For example, if you are reading about the political history of France, try to link it with what you know about the dictatorship, monarchy and dictator-led governments we have today. If you can identify broader patterns, it becomes easier to organize all the information. Another subject where you can do this is mathematics. If you move between concepts and references, you will understand the broader picture.

6. Sleep for at least 8 hours and exercise daily

If your body is tired, how can your mind function? Exercising at least three times a week can drastically improve your life. It regulates the functioning of your brain and improves your memory power. As a result, you will be full of energy and give your 100% to everything you do throughout the day. Try 30 mins for three times a week and you will start seeing the results. Another important aspect is to sleep well for the proper functioning of your mind and body. You should make it a point to get at least 8 hours of sleep every night.

7. Avoid Multitasking

For a fact. your brain can only perform one task successfully at a time. In essence, when you multitask, you are actually switching between tasks rather than engaging with both simultaneously. It reduces your efficiency and performance. A Forbes article cited a University of London study where it claimed that multitasking during cognitive tasks lowers the IQ of the individual. So even if you feel like you are multitasking efficiently, understand that you are only doing half the work you can do.

8. Take breaks

Take frequent breaks. It helps! After every 30-40 minutes of the study session, you should take a break of 5-10 minutes. Now you might feel like you are in that zone and can sit for another 3-4 hours of study at one go. What you don’t realise is your decreased efficiency with no in-between breaks and less enthusiasm to continue the session. In the long run, that willingness to actively pursue the same will die because you are only depleting your mental reserves and not allowing your energy to replenish. Taking breaks in between helps you recharge and go back to studying with 100% focus.

9. Focus on the journey and not the result

World-renowned researcher, Carol Dweck mentioned in her research that all successful students, and even professionals for that matter, focus on learning through the journey more than performing for the result of the action. This is because these individuals employ what is known as the growth mindset, where the focus is to overcome failures even if they lose an opportunity. When we are focused on learning, our entire focus is on understanding the subject matter and as a result, performing well in exams is a natural by-product.

10. Don’t forget to reward yourself

Of course! If you do good work, treat yourself to a job well done. However, make sure that your rewards are not taking you away from your goal. For example, your reward for finishing a three-hour study session should not be spent watching TV for another three hours or a large pizza that makes you sleepy afterward. Rewards can be a glass of juice, a short walk, a few sets of exercises or a few minutes of listening to your favourite music.

So there you go. 10 tips to studying smarter, not harder. 

You don’t have to implement all of these tips at once. Start with the one you find the easiest and slowly move on to the others. After just a week, you will start seeing results.

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