Want to get more out of your study time?
If you find it hard to study, you’re not alone. Many of us struggle with focus and motivation, but there are techniques you can use to improve your ability to learn and recall information. They key is to study smarter, not harder.
What happened to the predictions of working less?
The predictions sounded like promises: in the future, working hours would be short and vacations long. Economist John Maynard Keynes famously declared in 1930, “Our grandchildren would work around ‘three hours a day’—and probably only by choice.”
Today, more than ever, people living in western economies are faced with what The Economist calls ‘a perennial time scarcity problem’ – a constant lack of time to do the things you want to do. Time poverty, of course, has nothing to do with your financial situation; it’s about how much free time you have to do the things you want to do. Time poverty is becoming increasingly common. The phrase, “there just aren’t enough hours in the day…” has become an increasingly standard part of our lexicon.
What’s the Big Deal about Being ‘Time Poor’?
Naturally, being ‘time poor’ can decrease your quality of life. People who are time poor often say that they feel continually stressed out, tired, and unfulfilled. It follows that time poverty can have negative effects on your physical, mental and emotional health, as well as your sense of self and meaning in life. It can also lead to strained relationships with your partner, friends and your family. While being time poor is a common ailment, it can also be a very serious one. Increasing time wealth can lead to dramatic improvements in your life satisfaction, health and sense of wellbeing.
The key to effective studying
So, we’ve established that as a student juggling part-time employment and living your life, there is simply not enough time in your day. It’s vital that you work out a study technique that works best for you. Remember, there is no one best way to study – this is something that will have to be worked out by you.
There are, several techniques to make studying easier and more effective. Some of these are listed here:
- Speed reading is a learned skill. But you can all do it – and get better at it the more you practice
- One easy way to read faster is to use your finger under the line and let it guide your eyes over the lines of text in the page.
- Also, always focus on keywords and bold font when skimming for meaning.
- Here’s a useful YouTube video worth checking out: ‘Learn to Speed Read: Read 300% Faster in 15 Minutes’, Zander Woodford-Smith
- Put your summary notes in your own words
- Outline and organise your major and minor thoughts in a way and language that is meaningful to you
Active listening (for online or on-campus learning)
- Be ready for the key messages in what you read and hear
- Understand what you’re hearing or reading
- Repeat mentally
- Ask questions as you digest
- Decide what is important and what is not
- Sort, organise and categorise
This stands for Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review
- Survey – gathering, skimming and reviewing the information
- Question – raising issues as you are surveying
- Read – rereading material & looking for answers to the questions you raised previously
- Recite – Rereading material & putting concepts into your own words
- Review – going over the material until you know it
You will find that this technique places a lot of emphasis on engaging the brain. This is the motivating factor. Study becomes not just a one-dimensional, one directional task – but a puzzle which the brain loves to attempt to solve. There’s a strong focus on question and answer and adapting words to your own way of thinking about a concept. Try this on anything you read – an assessment task, a news story – whatever.
10 Study methods that work
Finally let’s look at a summary of 10 effective study methods that work, based on studies conducted from top universities Stanford, Indiana, and Chicago with precise experiments using student groups. Students who follow these methods learn more easily, retain material for longer periods of time, and save themselves hours of study time
- Making and keeping a study schedule
- Studying in an appropriate setting — the same time, same place, every day as much as possible
- Equipping your study area with all materials you need – try and study without interruption with momentum and set yourself achievable targets in 30-minute increments
- Don’t Rely on inspiration for your motivation
- Keeping a well-kept notebook – knowing where to find your learning materials when you need them is crucial to good grades
- Keeping a careful record of summary notes, research and assessment drafts
- Use flash cards – on the front of the card to write an important term or concept, and on the back, write a definition or an important linking fact – use these in your ‘dead times’ or waiting times
- Learn to take good notes efficiently – as insurance against forgetting
- Overlearning material enhances memory -students who overlearned material retained four times as much after a month than students who didn’t overlearn
- Review your material frequently – use your material in as many ways as possible by writing, reading, touching, hearing, and saying it.
Here’s a thought-provoking TED talk well worth a look: The first 20 hours — how to learn anything | Josh Kauf-man
If you have any study or time management issues or queries or if our team of trainers can assist you in any way with your ECA Professional Year studies, contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Stand by for the unveiling of our calendar of FREE workshops for ECA Professional Year students. Details to be announced shortly on our website and social media.
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Author: Luciano D’Ambrosi, General Manager – ECA Professional Year
Posted: 5 June 2018