So the new term is under-way and all your prep is done. You have signed up to ExamTime.com, created a shiny new profile and maybe even invited your friends to join, (study groups are all the fashion you know). Your diary is fresh and smells of clean paper and there’s not a coffee cup ring in site. Your study planner is packed to the brim with class timetables, notes, seminars, online hangouts and social happenings. Everything is ready… cue tumble weed.
All that preparation has you burnt out and the year hasn’t even begun. You have months ahead so you need to tune in and find those signals that are going to keep you focused for the duration of the term. This week I want to share some ideas with you that will help you out when sticking to your learning plan.
1. Focus Dates
Like many of my friends who are at university, the weekend gets them by. When the going gets tough and submission dates are looming, the idea of Friday evening can do wonders to boost the soul. This idea can be used for your school term. I’m not suggesting that you spend every waking minute holding out for the Halloween, Christmas or summer breaks. If you do that you are simply wishing your life away. Rather have something organised for these breaks and use them as your focus to get through the tough times. In a roundabout way, this works as a sort of reward scheme and is sure to help you stick to your study plan. Having something to look forward at the end of a busy academic will help you keep your head down and get your work completed.
2. Be Meticulous
The more detailed your study planner is the more likely you are to stick to it. I am going to use a sporting comparison to get this idea across. When weight training or prepping for a triathlon, I am constantly reminded how worthless it is to train in the areas I already excel in. It’s the weaker areas we all need to work on. This goes for study too. If you excel at Historical dates but struggle with Mathematics equations, why allocate your time to History. When we don’t have a strict plan to follow, like a gym plan, we immediately (somewhat subconsciously) lean toward the areas we are stronger in. By having a study plan that is targeted, it keeps us on track and forces us to focus on the areas that we would otherwise like to avoid.
3. Stay Active
Did you know that students who are more active tend to do better in their tests and are more focused when it comes to study? Let’s get a little scientific for a moment. Exercise actually enlarges your brain’s basal ganglia. This is the section of the brain that helps you pay attention. In fact, a study carried out on one school showed that 30 minutes of walking on a treadmill improved students’ problem-solving skills by 10%. Wouldn’t you like an extra 10% on your current average? People often misinterpret ‘being active’ as playing or competing in sport.
That is not the case. Being active for a short amount of time can have an impact on your ability to focus and memorise material. Arrange to meet with a friend in between subjects and go for a walk, throw a ball or ride a bike. It doesn’t have to be strenuous, just enough to kick start the brain back into action and stay on top of your study goals.
4. Create a Study Group
Teamwork in any discipline is a sure fire way to keep you on track. Try this for an exercise. Take a subject like English. Divide a novel you need to study amongst a group of five. With each person taking a section each and making concise notes you can save a lot of time. From there, why not create a mini quiz on each section with the ExamTime Quiz Maker. The great thing about study groups is that if you find yourself falling behind, you have people around to reel you back in and help you keep up to speed. Likewise if someone else in the group has an ‘off’ week, you will be there for them to regroup the team. Add your online notes and quizzes to your very own private study group on ExamTime and each of you will have access to them 24/7.
5. Find Your Perfect Study Environment
Did you know that your study environment has a huge impact on your ability to stay focused and meet study goals? This may seem like an obvious piece of advice but you would be surprised at the amount of students we see studying the wrong way. This can include anything from listening to music that is far too loud or aggressive, studying in a room close to a busy road or public transport route like a train line etc. or simply having people around you that are disruptive to your study goals.
Finding the right environment is crucial to doing well. When I was studying, I studied better when I was in the school/ University library. Part of the reason I loved the study halls was that it was quiet and I constantly saw people around me working, it gave me the motivation to push on with my own work. Each of us has a different ‘setting’ or method for studying well. Find yours and this will help you stick to your study goals.
I hope you find some of these tips helpful as your new school year gets under way. If you have any more suggestions you think we have missed, please feel free to add them into our comments section.
Student Guide: Tips & Tricks to Study Better
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It’s crammed full of proven study methods. Check out the Student Guide here.