10 Best-Ever Study Techniques (Without Studying More Hours)
Even a straight A student gets bored with studying so no shame in that, right? However, we want to help. Below are the 10 studying techniques any student could do to get the best results without sacrificing more hours to the textbook. This isn’t witchcraft, just a dash of science and a lot of lifestyle changes.
1. Learn How To Skim
Reading is a huge part of studying. While some people say that taking your time to read is actually the best way to learn, it’s no secret that savoring every single word is going to add a couple more hours to your studying sesh. Not that the extra cautiousness actually helps with the end-result. Too often, bulks of texts are actually pretty useless where about 30% of the things you read are actually important, memorise-worthy material.
If you don’t want to miss out on any details while making sure you don’t spend an hour trying to understand an irrelevant paragraph, the best way to get a win-win out of reading is through skimming. Not the “I’ll skip 3 paragraphs” kind of skimming, but the kind of skimming where you speed-read EVERYTHING. Skimming is a great way to connect with anything you’re reading and does not prevent you from appreciating their depth and richness, done in the most efficient way possible, as said by so many experts.
So the next time you have to study 10 years’ worth of history in 2 hours, skim through the paragraphs and determine which ones are actually worth your time. Saves you tons of energy and time.
2. Read Things Out Loud
Retaining information is like an art… and a pretty hard one. Reading the same stuff over and over again just to make sure you remember it gets boring. And when something becomes boring, the less likely it is for the brain to remember.
The key is to engage the brain and one way to do that without actively spending more hours than you should is by reading loudly. Memorisation is said to be built on three components: impression, association, repetition. Impression is when you become interested in what you read and association is when you can relate a piece of information to yourself. Meanwhile, repetition is you repeating the same things over and over again.
Who has time to do that, though? If you’re like any busy student, reading things out loud can be your own way of repeating things. Read with your eyes and then your lips. This way your eye and ears become more coordinated, bringing your brain to focus even more.
3. Work In Short But Powerful Bursts
When there’s a long study session, there’s burnout. The best way to fight this is by working in short but powerful bursts. Now I know what you’re thinking, that would just knock you off your groove, but that’s only true if you work in 10-minute intervals and take 10-minute breaks.
Instead of spending more hours studying, try incorporating short breaks into your study session.
Do it with the Pomodoro Technique, a well-known productivity booster. You work during 25-minute intervals that are called a “Pomodoro” and then you take three to five minute breaks after. Simply start up your timer and start working. Once you hear the bell ring, spend your break stretching your limbs or grabbing a drink. Every after four Pomodoro, take a longer break for 15-30 minutes, and repeat.
4. Use Apps To Block Websites
If we’re being really honest with ourselves, we rarely need to study for 4 hours straight. When a review session does reach 5+ hours on a single course, it’s usually because we’re not paying attention in the first place. A simple, no-frills rule to getting stuff done is by actually focusing on what you’re doing. That’s right, we know you’ve got Snapchat running in the background #shame.
Social media is a gigantic distraction. Yeah, we’re looking at you too, Buzzfeed. You could keep checking your Instagram every 10 minutes but habits like this do make for longer study time. Install apps on your phone or computer that would block access from these websites so you can spend the night in peace. Just be ready to say buh-bye for a while.
5. Highlight Your Way Through
One of the sworn by study methods is outlining: you take down notes on a separate pad and use that as your own reviewer. Only problem is, this takes a lot more time to do, which is essentially what we’re trying to beat here.
If you want the essence of a reviewer without rewriting every single thing on your textbook, switch to highlighting. Add some color to your life! Jot down notes at the side for better articulation. This way, you can always go back to the important details without going through the ordeal of rewriting them all over again because really, what’s the difference?
6. Get Creative
Memorisation is a dull, dull process that often takes too much of your study time. But with the right amount of creativity, even this could be done better and faster. Alternatives like reading your essay out loud and recording it on your phone so you can play it back any time; dramatizing a reading (so what if you look weird) because this way the text makes a greater impression on you; drawing a mindmap so you can literally trace your ideas are all great ways to improve memorisation.
7. Put Things Into Your Perspective
There’s a 17 year old guy called Alex Mullen and he can memorise the series of an entire deck of cards just by looking at it. His secret? No, he isn’t a successor of Zeus or a crazy supergenius but a practitioner of “memory palace”.
Memory palace is a technique used by memory athletes like Alex to remember a series of things. It’s a lot simpler than you think: the memory palace is a place where the visual and the spatial connect with each other. Think of it as word association. If you have to remember the word “Moscow” picture a cow eating some moss. If you have to remember a concept, find a way to relate it to yourself and everyday life.
The memory palace is a place where you can keep these associations and let them roam free. Instead of using mnemonics and other traditional memorisation tools, why not try building your own memory palace? By deciding what certain concepts, ideas, and information mean to you, you are putting things into your own perspective, making them easier to recognize.
8. Study In Milestones
Who ever told you that you should be studying 40 pages for an hour straight? If you can’t sit through a 20-minute episode on Netflix without getting up for a snack or taking a quick break on your phone, then why should you do differently when you study?
Studying requires concentration and let’s just face it, we get distracted. We get bored and tired and our eyes just need a little bit of break sometimes. Instead of memorising everything in one big lump, try studying in milestones.
More specifically, study using time blocking. Time blocking is when you ask yourself “how much time do I need to do this?” and proceed to schedule your tasks accordingly. Divide your study time according to subjects so you can track how much time you’re spending on a course or topic. If you need an hour to study something, put breaks in between. Give yourself a break. You know you deserve it.
9. Don’t Cram. Seriously, Don’t
Yes, yes, cramming is cool. Pulling an all-nighter and actually pulling it off the next day is rewarding. But admit it, when you’re in the moment, it doesn’t seem like the best decision in the world. Let’s be honest here: cramming is horrible. It makes you grumpy and deprives you of beauty sleep.
It’s a well-known fact that a sleep-deprived brain dulls performance. So the one hour you could have spent studying could extend to four hours just because your brain is too sleepy to function. Improve your quality of studying (and life) by doing alternatives to cramming: studying early in the day, studying in small increments, and taking naps.
Cramming is only going to do so much for you. It only activates your short-term memory which means you’re likelier to forget bits of info that you studied. The best solution? Study WEEKS before the actual exam, quiz. It’ll make your life better, you’ll see.
10. Watch Videos
A lot of people might feel weird about watching videos online because it feels like they’re cheating their way through life. Don’t worry: you’re not… you’re hacking it. Why should you spend so much time trying to understand one concept from your textbook? If it doesn’t happen in the first hour, it ain’t happening in the next three.
Get secondary materials. Aside from your notes and textbooks, there are tons of stuff on the internet that you could use to learn things from. Everything from history to math to the sciences to even economics can be learned online. Videos don’t have to be long and boring lectures. There are awesome Youtube channels that are engaging, witty, and funny that teach you about all sorts of things. Go forth and explore.