As far as the academic year is concerned we are almost at the end of days, so effective study is important right now. I’ve always loved the idea of working smarter not harder. With that in mind here are some of my tips on how to study effectively.
There is a limited amount of study time available to you, so you need to use it wisely. No point in allocating the same amount of time to every subject. There will be some that require more of your time than others. Identify those now and divide up your time appropriately.
If there are concepts that you don’t understand, seek help immediately. Using valuable time hoping to work it out by yourself will take time from other areas and ultimately cost you. Sometimes we need to make strategic decisions and if by now you don’t fully understand something, perhaps you will decide to accept the level of knowledge that you do have and stop spending time on it. Instead, spend that time on a potentially more profitable part of the same subject.
While to some it is a huge distraction, music in the background is a godsend to others. If you have Spotify they have loads of playlists to help with study and productivity. Just play it with the sound low.
White noise is a type of static sound that is created when sounds of all different frequencies are combined. It’s that rather annoying sound you get when tuning in radio stations. Because it contains all frequencies it can mask other sounds. Therefore, it is often used to help babies sleep in noisy environments. Using a white noise app on your phone can block out unwanted noise and help you to study. With the repetitiveness of the static, our brain moves the awareness of it out of our consciousness and instead we focus more on the task at hand.
From the outside exercise looks like a massive distraction, but that very distraction permits the brain to work on retaining what was studied. It also gets oxygen pumped into the body and brain keeping us alert. The endorphins released during exercise are vital to help relieve the anxiety and stress that accompanies exam time.
The reality is that there is a limit to the questions that can be asked on a subject because the curriculum is rigid. Therefore exams must be framed within those limitations. This is where sample papers become your best friend. They show you exactly the type of question to expect, so you can prepare in advance. Sometimes the questions are thinly repackaged and are essentially repeated!
Read some suggested answers if possible. Seeing how other students and teachers approach answering the same questions can be eye-opening.
Find the place that works for you. This may be in the exact place you’ve worked at all year and if that works for you then stick with it. If you feel the walls closing in on you or you are losing focus, then maybe a change of scenery will help. Local libraries can be brilliant as can after-school / weekend study halls. But they don’t suit everyone. Maybe an understanding café will be ideal, with a pair of noise-cancelling earphones. With the right attitude and equipment, anywhere can work as a study place – just don’t choose it because all the gang will be there.
Stop listening to friend moaning and complaining about how much they still have to do. These energy vampires will exhaust you and make you self-doubt. Focus on you and zone out the moany minnies. They either have the work done and are pretending not, to make themselves feel superior / look like geniuses when they get a great result (having done not a tap!), OR they really don’t have the work done and want to drag everyone down to their level.
To an extent we also need to zone out (a bit, not completely) from what parents & teachers are saying. Not so much the message, rather the way it is delivered. While the intended outcome can be the same, the words used can be framed in either a positive or negative way. If framed negatively, the opposite of what was intended may happen. So, if someone is always talking negatively stay out of their way as much as possible.
You have the work done! I repeat. You have the work done.
You cannot control what questions are going to come up, but you know that they are going to be based on the subject that you have studied. So, go into that exam and believe in yourself.
Elaine Sparling is the CEO of the award-winning Hummingbird Learning Centre®. Based in Adare, Co Limerick, and Tralee, Co Kerry, she works with clients on a one to one basis and can be contacted on 087-2996054 or through their website www.hummingbirdlearning.com. In addition to their core 10 session programs, they also have a 4 session one to one Study Skills Program called Study Success for second and third level students. Call now for more information