This is crazy:
Your classmate spends a maximum of a few hours preparing for the exam on a specific course, and they manages to pass it with flying colors, while you have to be content with barely receiving a B. Even more, studying takes all your free time.
Studying is tough. Studying is your whole life when you have to prepare for exams. You understand the importance of studying perfectly, but you cannot find out why it is so difficult for you.
What’s the bottom line?
In fact, there is nothing mysterious about people who can study faster and more effectively. The secret is in their approach to studying.
You have probably heard of the trait theory of leadership. According to it, some people are born to become leaders, can acquire information quicker, and are better at everything in comparison to others.
Such students know how to study for exams faster, and how to pass them without being nervous, because they have such features ‘in their blood’.
Maybe some people are born to be the best, but it is total nonsense to say that all students who spend less time on studying belong to this group of people.
The successful passing of exams depends on knowing of how learning works. Studying is a skill, and cramming all night before the exam is not a secret ingredient of success.
Path to success
Having good study habits presupposes knowing your strengths and weaknesses, using different methods of study, and organizing the process. One can acquire useful studying skills by paying attention to the organization of the process of learning first. Your strategy should include the following steps:
- Preparation for studying;
- Learning and memorizing;
- Controlling test anxiety.
Studying is not about reading the book for a thousand times, hoping that you will remember everything when you finish it ‘one more time’.
Here’s the deal:
1. Set goals
First of all, you should prepare for your study by setting goals. Goals are necessary to make you keep going. Don’t underestimate their power. Be sure that:
- You know why you are studying (for scraping through the exam, finishing college, getting good grades, satisfying your parents, or having professional knowledge for your future career). No matter what your goal is, it should be an impetus for studying;
- Your goals are achievable. You should be able to achieve them within the particular period of time and with definite efforts. No need for making over-optimistic promises — be realistic!
2. Choose the place for studying
This decision is up to you alone. You should find the place where you feel comfortable (but not comfortable for sleeping). Some people can study when they hear some background noise while others need silence. You will know how to study effectively with some of these tips:
- Light matters. The place you have chosen should be well lit. Places with poor lighting are more likely to make you sleepy;
- Noise matters. If you need background noise, you may like to go to the café, whereas a library may be the best option for people who prefer absolute silence;
- Time matters. You should not make yourself wake up early in the morning and study just because it works for that friend of yours. If you are a night owl, feel free to study in the evening.
3. Avoid distractions and boost productivity
Numerous things that you use are invisible thieves of your energy and concentration.
- Studying while the television is on may result in constant distraction from thoughtful reading.
- The same is true with your smartphone. Answering incoming calls leads to wasted time. As a result, you become tired before you have managed to study anything.
- The Internet is probably your enemy as well. If you need a computer, close all social media, and concentrate on your task.
What’s the bottom line?
You can boost productivity in many ways. It can be drinking coffee or listening to classical music. You should know what makes you active and use it for your studying.
4. Stay motivated
Attitude and mindset play a crucial role in successful and easy studying. ‘I don’t feel like studying’ is a widespread reason to avoid doing something useful. Follow these easy recommendations and you will be impressed at how they will change your attitude towards studying:
- Remind yourself that you have the necessary study skills;
- No negative thinking. Thoughts like, ‘I will never do it’, ‘I can’t stand doing it anymore’, ‘I’m a total failure, I will fail it for sure’, are not acceptable if you want to pass your exam;
- Don’t compare yourself to others. Thoughts like, ‘I bet that Meggy has already studied half of the book,’ is an unnecessary distraction that increases your dissatisfaction and demotivates you.
Actually, attitude towards learning habits and upcoming exams is what differentiates quick learners from others in most cases. Self-confidence is a great determiner of success.
Manage your time
The right division of time is one of the most important learning tips. The improper use of time, and constant putting off until tomorrow, are two major problems.
But here’s the kicker:
5. Avoid procrastination
Currently, procrastination seems to be one of the most pressing problems for students. A study of the level of procrastination among students has shown that 80-95% of students procrastinate. Most of them justify that fact by stating that working under pressure improves their efficiency. However, the results of the study have demonstrated that there is a connection between low GPA and procrastination habits.
6. Schedule every hour
If you want to know how to study effectively, you have to know how to manage your time properly. The right division of time is half way to success. If you doubt whether you are a procrastinator, do this test to find out.
If you have no problems with putting your tasks off until tomorrow, you are most likely to be that person who manages to pass everything successfully. In case you are a procrastinator, consider following these pieces of advice:
- Make a to-do list. Nothing can be easier than writing down everything you have to do. Make a list of all your tasks and give them deadlines. Then, write down the tasks with shortest deadlines first. Classify these urgent tasks depending on their priority and make a final list of what should be done first;
- Use a tool for organizing. It can be an app on your phone or a calendar with crucial tasks circled in red. You should find the most efficient way to remind yourself about upcoming tasks;
- Count every minute. Be precise when planning your schedule. Think about the necessary amount of time for the particular task, and don’t overvalue your possibilities. Always take into account potential delays and leave time for planning. In fact, students are expected to spend 35 hours a week for studying. Check how many hours you need for attending all classes and use the rest of the time for independent work.
Learning and memorizing
Very often students ask for a piece of advice from those ‘successful learners’. The latter may recommend something like highlighting important notes in the textbook.
A happy student comes home with the hope that this time everything will be great and fast — no more suffering before exams.
But here’s the kicker:
When it comes to using this new technique, nothing changes. It seems that highlighting does not work at all.
In such case, a student may become desperate and start reproaching himself for being a stupid and total mess while the only problem is the wrong choice of learning style.
What’s the bottom line?
7. Know your learning style
Identify your learning style and choose appropriate techniques for study. People are divided into three types of learners:
- Visual — those who learn by seeing something. Highlighting does work for such these people;
- Auditory learners who prefer listening. It is advisable for this type of learner to speak with others, read aloud, or record themselves;
- Tactile learners learn something new by doing it. They need practice to be able to learn the theory.
If you are not sure about your learning style, follow this link and find it out by answering these simple questions.
8. Use different study tips for memorization
You have chosen a place for study, got rid of all distractions, and evaluated the urgency of your tasks. Half the work is done. Now it is time to start working on your study habits. Many articles emphasize the significance of such techniques as visiting lectures, making notes, or reading before going to bed.
But here’s the kicker:
Such tips are helpful, but they are not universal and don’t work very often. The task is to make your brain work, process information and retain it so you can use it; not only in exams but also later in your life. Find out some of the creative techniques for study:
- The system of rewards. Promise yourself that you will buy that fancy dress or watch (or anything else you want) after you pass the exam. This type of reward may be classified as a long-term extrinsic motivator. Also, you can make the process of studying more pleasant by letting yourself eat or drink something delicious when you finish some part of your studying;
- Read upside down. This study habit is efficient if you need to cram something. Yes, cramming is believed to be an ineffective method of studying, but every student knows that sometimes there is no other way out. When you read upside down, you have to focus better otherwise you won’t be able to understand the meaning of the text. Focusing on something makes you memorize and comprehend it quicker;
- Teach somebody. This method is amazing, and it works in most cases. When you teach someone, you have to be able to explain the topic. No explanation is possible without understanding. Consequently, you will have to do your best to describe the topic to your friend (or anybody else including you) so that he or she can get it.
9. Use flashcards
Flashcards are very useful for becoming a better learner. Write down important facts using bullet points, different colors and fonts to enhance visual perception. Take them with you everywhere you go and don’t miss the opportunity to read them during the so-called ‘dead times’ (waiting for a bus, standing in a queue). You can even pin them to your fridge or bathroom mirror so that they will always be in your sight or use in group activities with your classmates.
Moreover, you can keep them on your smartphone or computer by using specific apps! Here are some examples perfect for university and college students:
- GoConqr – with this app you can use fantastic flashcards made just for visual learning or create your own set. Add images, formulas, and text to make your flashcards.
- Quizlet – choose from a broad list of flashcards to prepare for your test or create your own lessons. Medicine, spelling, art, physics, law, and many more.
- Cram – almost 200 million cards for learning online. You can read cards or enable audio records.
10. Use our infographic checklist
Check the guide on how to study effectively and become a quick learner in the following infographic.
Find out more great study habits that are scientifically proved in this video.
Controlling text anxiety
Anxiety before the test is something that may spoil everything. Being too nervous may result in poor concentration and, as a result, a bad grade. People who pass exams easily know, not only how to study, but how to behave and keep calm.
Here are some tips on how to stay relaxed during your test:
11. Read the tasks and use samples
Read all instructions carefully and follow directions exactly. Whether it’s a chemistry, physics, or history test—understanding the task is the most significant start for a successful score.
If you still don’t feel prepared for the test, try out a couple of online exams. Find some test questions that may appear on your future exam.
Finding essay samples on any topic is possible. Analyze them, and you won’t have to develop your own essay from scratch:
- 125 College Essay Examples for 13 Schools + Expert Analysis– an enormous pick of college essay samples for practice.
- Writing Sample Essays – an excellent essay analysis you can use as learning material. You’ll learn what standards to follow when writing a paper.
- Sample Essays – this is an excellent option for those who are struggling with anxiety. All essays are fun and interesting to read, but they also help you find a creative way of writing on your own.
12. Stay positive
Some keep thinking that way even when studying 8 hours a day. And that’s a completely wrong approach.
Take some time to read workbooks, do exercises, and make other preparations. But then, take some time to relax, have a good night’s sleep, and build your confidence.
According to statistics, 25% of school students are affected by test anxiety. It doesn’t only affect their academic performance, but also health, showing such symptoms as nausea, stomach pain, headaches, and shortness of breath.
If you feel too worried try taking slow, deep breaths that will cool you down.
If feelings of panic and anxiety are familiar to you, it’s great to learn the 4×4 breathing technique. Navy SEALs use it and, if performed correctly, it eliminates all the negative signs of anxiety.
To perform it, follow this guide:
- Inhale for 4 seconds.
- Hold your breath for 4 seconds.
- Exhale for 4 seconds.
- Don’t breathe for 4 seconds.
Repeat until you feel calm and not threatened by a panic attack.
14. Use relaxation and meditation apps
Note taking, reading scientific resources, or exercising are helpful activities. Unfortunately, they won’t work if you worry too much. That’s why you should install one of these apps on your desktop or smartphone. When used correctly, such software turns into quite a nice strategy for passing exams. Here are some app suggestions:
- Calm– in the world of stressful situations and tension at work and studies, Calm does everything you would expect from an app with such a definition.
Named the best app of the year in 2017, Calm helps thousands of people to improve their sleep, perform meditation, and release stress. It allows you to listen to sleep stories by Stephen Fry, Tamara Levitt, and others; do breathing exercises, and experience soothing nature sounds.
- Meditation and Relaxation – this app includes essential parts of a healthy routine, such as productivity, calmness, sleep, and happiness.
Learn to meditate and do that every day to meet your goals easier and eliminate all anxiety on your way to exam success.
- Aura is a free app for iOS and Android that helps you reduce stress and improve your mood.
It includes important components—a gratitude journal, breathing exercises, mood analysis, and sounds of nature. Track your happiness, meditate, and increase your level in a game-like software.
15. Check the video below for finding more useful ways of coping with test anxiety.