Learning isn’t an easy task. For some pupils, just to sit down facing a book is already an accomplishment. However, you want to get the most out of your study sessions.
Learn to work smarter, not harder. This is one of the most important lessons you will ever learn. It teaches you how to maximise your output from the amount of time that you put into your studies. Abraham Lincoln summarised it as follows: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” This means that if we work smart and first sharpen the axe, in other words preparing the right way for a test, the process of ‘cutting down’ the ‘academic tree’ will go quicker.
Here are 6 effective study guidelines to help you work smarter and not harder:
1. Start with the most difficult work first.
Don’t spend all your time restudying the work you already know. Tackle the work you haven’t summarised and studied before. For example, if you have 3 chapters to study for the upcoming test, don’t start with the work that you know and have already studied. Start with the newest or the most difficult work. When you feel like you understand the most difficult and newest work, then revise the old work.
2. Summarise every day.
One of the best ways to study is to summarise a topic the very day it is taught in class. Make notes during class, ask questions and understand what you have learned. Studying your notes within one day of making them will lead to a retention rate of 60% higher than usual
3. Test your teachers.
Ask your teachers during class what is the most important concept you need to understand about a topic, so that you know what kind of questions to expect in the test. Take note every day which topics your teacher emphasised and be sure to spend more time on those topics when you study.
4. Practice exam papers.
The importance of practise exam papers can’t be stressed enough. Have you ever been writing a stressful test and then suddenly you “hit a blank”? Practise exam papers can easily indicate which topics you haven’t mastered yet and on which topics to focus. Any university student will tell you how important it is to practise with past papers or mock tests. They know how important it is not just to know something from the textbook, but how to apply it correctly. ASP-SchoolProjects specialises in practice exam papers for Grade 1 – 9 (all subjects). Sign up today to enjoy the benefits.
5. Maximise your knowledge.
Understand that your teachers need to ask questions from every topic and chapter. It won’t make sense to spend all of your time only on one topic when you know your teacher needs to test all of the topics in the test. It is better to know 70% about every chapter than it is to know 100% of one chapter but only 50% about the rest. You might also just have spotted the wrong topic!
6. Variation can boost you marks.
When we have to study for more than one test we tend to feel panicked, because it feels like we could never get through all the work. However, rest assured, studying for two different subjects can actually benefit you. For example, studying for maths and studying for biology works two different ‘muscles’ of the brain. You use different skills to study a diagram or sketch than practising how to solve algebraic equations. We advise you to combine a subject you love and do well in with a subject you are really struggling with. Maybe you love art history but you battle with chemistry. You could easily work out a schedule so that you can practise you chemistry skills for two hours and then alternate it with art history for one hour. You will feel more refreshed when you go back to chemistry after your brain has done something it enjoys.
Study smarter, not harder, for your next test. You will feel calmer, more refreshed and ultimately happier throughout the whole term. If you make use of these techniques – tell us how it benefits you. If you have any other techniques to add, please share it with us!