Tuesday, 8 July 2014

7 Ways to Study Effectively

Have you ever felt the huge amount of stress from studying and also face high expectations to achieve excellent grades? I certainly do, and I bet many of you face the same problem as me. Or perhaps, you just merely want to study for an exam to get a satisfactory grade, but can't seem to focus on anything? 

I came from A-levels and being in a renowned JC, my grades are probably at the lowest standards ever.. Probably even worse than average for the entire A-level cohort. As much as I want to blame it on the subjects that I am learning, about how I am not interested in Sciences, I know part of the responsibility lies on me. I wasn't able to catch up and without the foundation, no matter how hard I tried in the end, it doesn't work out. 

I ended up in SIM which isn't a local uni, I know how many people out there look down on us just because we aren't local uni graduates. But it doesn't mean that I cannot make a difference. I chose a field that I am interested in - Business. And I told myself, this time I cannot lose out again. Part of the reason why I took Double Degree (Int. Trade) is also because I wish to stand out a little more. Friends tell me that taking an extra degree doesn't secure you a better job, but it does not hurt to learn more if you can afford it. 

This also comes to why I am writing this post today, to share some of the things I do to study more effectively. Some of the points here are from my personal experience, while others are something that I am still trying to pick up along the way. It might not work for everyone and as individuals we should find what works and stick to it. 

7 Ways to Study Effectively 
(In no specific order)

1. Food and drinks are the best remedies

Well, I am speaking from experience here. Studying without any food or refreshments will not last me anywhere longer than 2 hours most of the time. Not sure if it's because I am constantly craving for something to chew on, but food and drinks work best for me and it allows me to stay alert and unstoppable. That is probably why I always find myself going to Starbucks and Mcdonalds for my exam revisions, be it with my friends or just me alone. Coffee works best! Just don't over rely on it. 

If you are one who never fails to fall asleep in class, bring in some sweets to keep yourself awake!  

2. Pick your study environment

The right study environment for your friend does not mean the same for you. A bad study environment may contain many unwanted distractions and cause you to lose your study momentum. On the other hand, it could be far too quiet or just plain uncomfortable to sit in. Some prefer a noisier environment with some chattering background noise, while others prefer a tranquil and peaceful ambience to concentrate better. 

Personally, one thing I cannot stand during studying is absolute silence. Exams obviously don't count. I will just keep yawning and have the tendency to fall asleep when it's too quiet. However, extreme loud noises is a huge irritation for me. Cafes actually work best for me! (Those that are not too crowded or dirty)

3. Study at your comfort level, in groups or individually

Again, when it comes to effective studying, you have to know what suits you best! I prefer to study in small groups especially for subjects that require some discussion. Multiple brains work better than one, right? If you're stuck at one question, you can get your peers to explain to you. Also, if you teach your peers, you benefit as well because it acts as an extra revision for you. I also prefer to study with friends as you can chit chat a little during small breaks and that keeps you awake. 

However, some completely dislike group studies as it could be a form of distraction for them, especially for those who prefer absolute silence. 

Your preference! 

4. Taking notes

I also realized that taking notes in class is a very effective way for learning faster and to keep yourself awake. As you're copying down what the professor is saying, you tend to remember better and you will realize that at the end of the day, you save yourself a lot of revision time. No more panicking before exams as you're ready beforehand!
Of course, organizing and planning your notes well is essential as well! You won't be able to study properly from messy scribbles on papers. 

5. Understand, not memorize

While searching for photos related to my points, I found this and it's a really good quote.

"I was asked to memorize what I did not understand; and, my memory being so good, it refused to be insulted in that manner." (Aleister Crowley)

My brain usually works better for memory work but I realized that it takes up a lot of time and I end up learning nothing. I do make this mistake from time to time, but I try to persuade and force myself to learn and understand before I blindly memorize my notes. When I understand the point, I noticed that the memory comes natural and it actually stays much longer too. After all, there is no point going to school if you just "absorb then throw".

6. Results are one of the strongest motivation

Yes yes yes.. Even after my A levels are screwed up, my Uni results were never that fantastic. I wouldn't categorized myself as a lazy student who can't be bothered with my results. It's just that I am missing that huge motivation. Yes, I do care about my results but I wasn't THAT hungry for it. All along my results were not too bad but I had a couple of Bs with some As. It was until one Summer semester where I got my straight 4 As, I became much more motivated and initiative in my studies. 

That strong desire of getting As made me push myself harder. For most subjects, I wanted nothing but an A. Of course, things don't always work my way. But having a goal and working towards that goal makes a whole lot of difference! If you are really unable to attain the desired grades, then at least set some expectations for yourself and aim towards it. That grade you are aiming for, will be your motivation to go further. 

7. Friendly competition is healthy

When I say competition, I don't mean that you start fighting against one another for the grades of course!!  Adequate competition can motivate people to excel, but never be obsessed with winning or it could cause harmful problems.  You can still study with your peers and help one another out, you won't lose out because you are learning as well! 

I know this may not be much, but I hope it does help! There is no standard way that fits everyone's lifestyle and character! So just remember to find your own method that suits you. 


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