At times, studying can be an incredibly tedious process. You might feel like you’ve spent hours on one tiny concept and you still can’t wrap your head around it! We are here to share our top tips on how to study effectively, ensuring you stay focused and maximise grind time when it counts.
- Routine routine routine
It is paramount that you establish a study routine that work for you – ensure it is sustainable, get into it early and stick to it all year.
Part of establishing this routine is finding a time and place to study that works for you. This may take a bit of trial and error. You might find that you prefer a consistent time and place or perhaps you want some variety: library 4-7pm on Monday nights, desk at home 6-8pm on Tuesday nights and so on. Regardless, on that cold rainy Tuesday night when your bed seems a lot more appealing than your desk, it is the routine that keeps you going.
Making ‘mini-musts’ is a simple tool that can transform your attitude to study. Mini musts are habits that someone performs every day. Although these habits might seem insignificant, over time they culminate to have a much larger impact on your approach to study and, in turn, your results.
- choose one article to read every day to remain informed of world events (great for economics!) or observe the literary tools that the author uses (great for English!)
- watch a KIS video from one of our online courses
- write an essay or extended response question at the end of each week
3. Specific to-do lists
A precise to-do list will give you the best shot at maximising your time. For example, to make a large assignment more manageable, you might split it into smaller parts: tasks that you can realistically complete within 25-30 minutes. If you write in your to do list ‘start biology report’, your goal will be so broad and imprecise that you won’t know where to begin (and chances are, you will continue procrastinate starting it at all). Instead of ‘start biology report’, write 'read 3 research papers’ or ‘write 200 words of the introduction.’ These goals specify exactly what you need to do, meaning you will know exactly when you have reached your goal.
The more micro-tasks you complete, the more you can tick off your to-do list and the greater your sense of motivation you will achieve. With all that momentum built, you will have completed the larger task before you know it!
4. Pomodoro technique
Working in 25-minute increments with a 5 minute break has proven a very effective study strategy to stay focused so you can maximise your time. If you suffer from a severe case of procrastination (don't we all!), the Pomodoro technique will help you work intensely in focused bursts. A 25 minute period is long enough to smash out a decent amount of work but not so long that it feels laborious or overwhelming. Once you have completed one ‘pomodoro’ (25 minutes of study with your 5 minute break) you will likely have the momentum to complete a few more.
5. Work smart (not hard!)
Quality over quantity! Instead of completing 20 practice exams, attempt 3 until you have finessed all of them. Go over the questions that you got wrong or those that stumped you. Focus on the topics and subjects that require more attention. It’s easy to keep procrastinating study for those more difficult concepts but there is no point revising content that you already understand (even though it might make you feel smarter at the time!)
6. Focus on understanding, not memorising content
For many subjects, understanding is the key. Although it is easy to rote learn your content, you’ll quickly find that most exam questions are testing higher order thinking. While there might be a few questions that ask you to ‘recall’ or describe’ a concept, a lot questions require you to 'analyse', 'evaluate' or 'assess.' It is important that you know the difference between these imperative verbs as they will inform how you respond to the given question or statement – check out NESA’s glossary of Key Words as this will help direct your study so you avoid falling down the memorisation rabbit hole.
7. Strike a balance
It is important that you don’t let study become all-consuming. You want to make sure that you have a healthy relationship with study – of course, at times, it might be stressful or challenging but overall your study should provide you with a sense of fulfilment and accomplishment. School and study should be balanced with all other parts of your life: friends, family, hobbies, exercise and so on. Following the above tips to studying efficiently will allow you to spend more time on the things you enjoy.
But... it also goes the other way: exercise, socialising, sleeping and keeping up with your extra-curricular activities will help your study. For example, exercising will allow your body to release endorphins which are the ‘feel-good’ chemicals that help you cope with stress and create a general feeling of well-being. This is exactly what you mind needs to remain sharp, motivated and level-headed. Having a structure or schedule that combines all aspects of your life (from social to study) will ensure you can switch off from school when you aren’t studying and focus only on study when you’re at your desk, pen in hand.
By implementing these 7 simple study tips and tricks into your routine, you will notice a difference in what you get out of your time ( it should be proportionate to what you put in!) If you need help getting started or are after some guidance along the way you can book a free 30-minute study consultation session with our top tutors here at KIS. You should also check out our study skills and exam preparation modules to kickstart your new and improved study game plan!