You have a lot of exams, and you always plan on how to prepare to pass those. But usually, you do not follow the steps exactly how you planned, and it happens to get some lower grade or, even worse, fail on the exam. If this happens to you often enough, here is a 5-step guide on improving your studying process.
- Make a realistic plan
- Avoid destructions while studying
- Use sticky notes
- Memorize essential expressions
Make a realistic plan
The planning part is as important as the learning itself. If you fail to plan, you’ll fail to learn the needed material for sure. Usually, tend to underestimate the effort required to go through a particular material and understand it. So do even big companies by planing their millions-worth projects.
Based on my experience, here are my pieces of advice on how to plan realistically:
- Make sure you have collected all the needed material for the study. Ether you gather all necessary books or whatever papers they are, you shot have them at a glance. By this, I mean, if they are hard-copy books, have them on the table so you can look at them. If they are electronics papers or eBooks, put them together in a folder on your computer.
- The next step is to have a quick look at the material you’ve collected. Open the books or files and go chapter by chapter, section by section, or even page by page, without reading everything line by line, and make sure you note all the necessary parts you need to learn. Give them an estimated time in hours for each piece and note that somewhere.
- Once you’ve collected the estimation time, the next thing to do is making a schedule. Use your favorite calendar app, or even paper calendar, and put all the tasks you need to complete. Be realistic and do not overestimate your capabilities. If you usually cannot study more than 10 hours a day, don’t make a more extended schedule than that. Make sure you also plan your break times. You need to eat, drink and stay healthy, that’s also important.
The planning process might take some time, and that’s OK. But make sure you don’t exaggerate. For a one-month study project, you should consider one or at most two days of planning. Once you have done that, you are ready to start executing your schedule. If the project’s deadline is critical, a good tip is to plan a couple of days more, just if something unplanned happens, that can be potentially destructive. For example, you get sick, or unexpectedly you brake up with your partner, so you don’t have the mood to study after wasting all that energy on arguing.
Avoid destruction while studying
Even if your plan is perfect, you can fail to reach your goals on time if you have too much destruction around you. Maybe your roommate listens to loud music the whole time, or you are too busy with messages and comments from Facebook; all this can lead to harmful consequences while studying. Make sure you find a quiet room for the entire study session. Put your phone at least in silent mode, if not at flight mode, and sign out from all social media on your PC. This way, you can avoid destruction as much as possible.
My favorite place to study is in the library since everybody is pretty quiet there, and it is pleasant to learn. I usually leave my phone in the bag to avoid social media distractions and put it in silent mode. I only answer to messages or calls when I have a break. I rarely use social media on my PC, so I am usually logged out from there anyway.
Use sticky notes
This action may help to memorize new terms, definitions, or even formulas. My best way of using sticky notes is to put specific expressions or even graphs and stick them on the whiteboard in front of me. Whenever I see the same expression again somewhere later in the text, and I don’t remember what it was, I look into the sticky notes and easily remember it. This methodology saves me time and frustration when I have to go through complex topics. However, making too many sticky notes can lead to even more frustration because you can quickly lose track. It is a good practice to remove individual sticky notes from the whiteboard once you feel confident about them. This way, you can keep a better overview of what you are doing.
Memorize essential expressions
Using sticky notes helps a lot during learning new things because it enables you to remember easier specific terms that you have noted during your learning process. However, you might also consider memorizing any key expressions since you will need them very often. Sometimes, a lot of stuff is not going to make sense, so it is a good idea to memorize it as it is. I am not saying here you don’t need to understand it, but having it memorized can help you deeply understand it easier at later stages of the learning process since it can make sense when you connect it with other concepts.
Science has proven that you learn up to 90% more when you revise at least once the whole material. Once you have gone through all of it, you might feel confident about having it understood, but to make you are on the safe side, go through it again. You will see how much of the material you actually didn’t really understand or remembered it. So with that said, make sure you plan at least half of your total time for the revision.
Here you have it—five essential steps on studying more efficiently and crashing your exams. If you have any other suggestions that can help be a better student in any way, feel free to share your thoughts below in the comment section. I am very excited to learn new, better, and more efficient study techniques from you.