How to study smarter

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Finding the most effective way to study is a lifelong commitment that requires time and patience. Everyone has different learning styles and abilities, so it is important to develop an experience that is tailored to you. Learning how to study properly can help you improve your memory retention and ward off panic and frustration.

EPIC Assist (EPIC) has prepared ten tips to help you fine-tune your study routine and reach your learning goals.

Get organised

Getting organised is a key first step to smarter study. You may find it helpful to note down when all of your assessments and projects are due on a homework planner, calendar, or whiteboard. This will help avoid any unpleasant surprises and give you a clear picture of what is ahead.

Pay attention in class

You may be surprised to learn that there is a difference between hearing and listening. Active listening is a valuable skill that involves fully concentrating on what is being said, rather than passively hearing the speaker. Hearing is a sense, listening is a choice.

You can practice active listening in class by taking notes in your own words. This will help you better understand and engage with what is being discussed.

Steer clear of distractions

Studying doesn’t have to be uncomfortable or laden with procrastination. It is important to find a study space that maximises your potential. The best environments are quiet, well-lit, and clear. Put away your phone, close social media, and try listening to some music. Not only can music help drown out excess noise, but it can also increase energy levels and reduce anxiety.

Stay positive

Smarter study starts with the right attitude. Emotion has a powerful influence over the brain. Where a motivational mindset can heighten learning and long-term memory retention, a negative state can impair learning and decrease memory performance. A small step towards studying positive and being enthusiastic about your subjects is by clearing your mind. On tough topics, find the titbit of information you are interested in and cling to it – studying is always more effective when you are invested.

Review and simplify notes

There is a reason why cramming the night before an exam rarely works. Your brain has multiple databases and folders. Information is first filed in your short-term memory. After that, it is up to you to convince your brain to transfer the messages to long-term memory instead of the trash bin.

No matter how you review notes, it is important to do it at regular intervals to spark this long-term transfer. Whether you read your notes out loud, re-write them in your own words, highlight and underline key phrases, or create visual aids, this is a vital step in the learning process. Review, rinse, repeat.

Ask questions

Teachers are there to help you do your best. Ask them questions, rather than silently suffering through your own confusion. This initiative not only helps you study smarter, but can also impress your teacher.

Feed your brain

Good nutrition and health can often slide down the priority list when you’re studying. But without a proper supply of energy, your brain will struggle to maintain concentration and create memories. Eating healthy and sleeping well can help energise your brain and fend off lethargy.

Get active

There are plenty of reasons to be physically active, and smarter study is one of them. Regular exercise feeds your brain the essential ingredients for improving memory, attention, and thinking skills. Many people have their best ideas when they are away from their desk. Use exercise as an opportunity to strengthen your brain and spark the flurry of ideas.

Study in short bursts

Your brain behaves like a muscle. Overtime, it can become fatigued and foggy; fuel will diminish, the gears will slow, and memory retention will splutter to a bumpy halt.

Rather than studying for two hours straight, try taking a short break every 30 minutes. Go for a walk, sing, dance, stretch, grab a healthy snack, or find a dog and give it a hug. The important thing is to move and offer your brain the chance to reboot. Study smarter, not harder.

Study in a group

Working with classmates is an easy way to study smarter. Study groups encourage interactive environments that foster engagement and concentration. It gives you the opportunity to see the material from a new perspective, learn faster, and break the monotony of studying alone. This social atmosphere is the perfect ground for shaping positive connections with the information.  Use it as a chance to compare notes and test your knowledge through quizzes.

You might also be interested in some other EPIC study tips such as what type of learner you are and how to improve productivity.