Have you ever asked yourself a question: Is the way I study the right one? Or, to put it in other words, have you ever asked yourself: Why the hell is studying so hard? Shouldn’t it be more comfortable?
Guess what, it should. Also, to answer the first question: no, it is not the right way, at least in case you study like most of us does. However, today you caught your lucky break, and somehow run into this article about study hacks. Congratulations, as your life is about to change. 1
#1 Study Hack – Concentration
What is the number one rule to doing anything correctly? Concentration. Considering studying, this goes twice as much, as the distractions are especially harmful. In our age, focusing gets a bit trickier with all this technology around us. I wouldn’t be surprised if you were reading this while listening to music or maybe texting your friends on Facebook. Am I right? If so, let me challenge you right now – turn off the music, close the Facebook tab (and all other unnecessary tabs you have opened) and concentrate on what you are reading. Common, do it! Alright. 2
Feeling any better? I hope so. At least I do, knowing now that you really focus on this text. Was it that difficult? I guess not. However, it gets more demanding when you concentrate on something for more extended periods. For example, if this were a book, not an article, you would probably not be able to read it all at once while focusing on it. What should you do then? Break it into pieces. You don’t need to read the book all at once, nor you need to learn everything during one study session. Begin with what you can handle – if you are able to concentrate only for 20 minutes, study for 20 minutes and then take a break. With practice, the period will extend.
The recommended length of periods is 45-60 minutes, with breaks in between. Also, take a big break after 3 hours at top. Working in the concentrated-mode is demanding, so you can’t be doing it all day. 3
Like reading? Read this on the topic of concentration: Deep Work, Cal Newport.
#2 Study Hack – Questioning
Now that you are concentrating, it’s time to ask a question. Are you taking any notes from your classes? I believe you do, especially if you are a high-school student. Another question: What do your notes look like? Are you only rewriting what your teacher says? Or are you trying to catch the most important bits of information and write those?
If you’re not writing down notes, I encourage you to do so. For if you do them correctly, they will save you a lot of time. However, if you already are taking notes, I have one more question to ask: Have you everasked any question? 4 – – – You did. And do you remember the answer? Never mind. What I am trying to get to is that you should ask the questions all the time while you are taking notes, and your notes should consist of those questions.
Let me give an example: Consider yourself reading this article (shouldn’t be difficult). Now imagine this article is on your list of compulsory reading and you must remember as much as possible of it. How do you achieve that? We all know the rule one by now – concentration. The next step is to take notes, which should consist of questions. What questions are you going to ask?
If I were you, my questions would be: What are those five study hacks the article is about? How can I apply those hacks in my studying process? Then, as you go through the material, the questions may look like this: Why is concentration so important? How should my notes look like? What are the advantages of using flashcards? – – – You get it? Ask questions, write down the answers. What you will get will be a transparent sheet of notes in which you will be able to find anything quickly. 5 Also, it has something to do with the next study hack…
#3 Study Hack – Flashcards
I believe most of the students around the globe are using one method of studying – rereading. Why they do this is another thing. The problem is that it is horribly ineffective. I recall many times when my classmate said something like: “What the hell! I was learning for three hours for this paper! How is it possible that I still got D?” It’s easy – the three hours they were studying by rereading the material all over again, hoping, somehow, they will remember it.
Rereading is the mother of all fuck-ups you get from studying. If there is something in this article what can change your life, it is this advice: Stop rereading, start studying.Now to the right way of studying. When you want to remember information, the best way to do so is by testing yourself. And the most natural way to get yourself tested is using flashcards. There are a lot of online flashcards apps, be it Quizlet or StudyBlue, which you can use. 6 If you never happened to run into flashcards, this is what they look like: On the one side, there is a question written, and on the other is the answer.
Of course, you can create your own flashcards out of paper. However, there is an advantage which online apps can give you – they measure your progress and sort the cards by difficulty (those you were quickly able to answer and those you struggle with). Me personally, I recommend you using an online app. Now to the point of creating them. You need a question, and you need an answer. Now, you should hooray, because you already have your notes in question/answer form. The whole process of creating flashcards is much easier due to this fact. Otherwise, you must think up the questions and answers first.
Like reading? Read this on the topic of questioning and flashcards: How to Become a Straight-A Student, Cal Newport
#4 Study Hack – Repeating
There is one sad thing about learning we all encounter – forgetting. When an average person learns a material, he remembers only a fraction of it the very next day. Why do we learn when we forgot anyway? It is a bit of nonsense. Still, we do it. Luckily for you, there is a way to hack this process – it’s called spaced repetition.
Learning information is like feeding children – if you do it only once, they will die. Period.
But if you feed them regularly, they will eventually find a way to feed themselves, and they will exist independently on you. There is a schedule for the right repetition of the information. Revise it after…
… and you will never forget what you learned again. However, there is one problem with this.
You must be organized to be able to stick to this timetable. Otherwise, you will forget to repeat the information, which results, of course, into forgetting the information itself. For this I recommend you using some kind of calendar to remind yourself of the times you need to repeat the material. I use the Google calendar, but I believe any other would do as well. What you need to do? Every time you learn something, create a new reminder in your calendar, which will repeat according to the schedule.
You might find it crazy at first to repeat that many times the same material all over again. However, it is not that crazy. If you are using flashcards, the revision will take you only up to few minutes, and it is definitely worth your time.
#5 (bonus) Study Hack – Mnemorizing
This fifth and last study hack is kind of a bonus hack, for it is much more complicated than those before. However, anyone who adopts it gets an edge in study skills. It’s memorizing with using mnemonics techniques (mnemorizing). By using these techniques, you will understand the best way to store information into your brain. The learning process will get more comfortable – and, however unbelievable it may sound, exciting. I’m not going to expand on this topic anymore in this article, for two reasons – first, it would double the size of it, and second, we have already written an article about mnemonics, so give yourself a rest and continue afterward here.
Like reading? Read this on the topic of repetition and mnemonics: The Unlimited Memory, Kevin Horsley; Moonwalking with Einstein, Joshua Foer.
You have finished this article? Wow…
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