Wouldn’t it be awesome to know you could get better grades without having to rack your brains and put your life on hold?
I teach some of the most competitive students. They are all jostling to get into med school and you should see the extreme measures they take. They study till they drop… literally. That’s not what university life is supposed to be like. The key to freeing up your time is to learn to study effectively, not study more. As the semesters go by, you should be getting better grades but studying less. That’s the true measure of academic success. Here are 8 simple things you can do to achieve this seemingly impossible task.
1. Sleep well
Sleep is sacred. Maintain your alertness by sleeping well — not more than 8 hours a day, but not less than 7. This is bound to improve both your body and brain health and energy levels.
Another cool trick is combining tea or coffee with a power nap during the day. Just sip your preference of coffee or tea, then doze off for no more than twenty minutes. You’ll wake with double the energy boost as the effects of the caffeine kick in at precisely the moment you wake up.
2. Discover how you learn best
People generally learn in one of three ways and tend to prefer one — through visuals, sound, or touch. You need to figure out which one works best for you. According to the discoverers of neurolinguist programming, your words tell you which one you may lean towards. Listen to yourself in the coming days and notice statements like: “I see what you’re saying…” or “I hear you” or “I can’t get a grasp on that.” Once you discover which one of the modes of learning best suits you, adapt your studying techniques to your preference.
3. Teach to learn better
Another great way to study more effectively is to actually teach others what you are studying. Do this and you are proverbially hitting two birds with one stone — spending time with friends and helping them on the one hand, while you also learn the subject far more effectively. Teaching is a great reinforcer of concepts and helps solidify your memory.
4. Study only when you’re productive
Students succumb to the pressure of exams so much and so often that they think they need to burn the next 48 hours, studying on afterburners. Studying too much, at all times, is extremely counter-productive. Set apart times of the day when you are at your best mentally for the task. We waste those hours too often on meaningless tasks — aided greatly by our addiction to the internet. This requires no small amount of self-discipline, but it’s well worth it when you realize you can learn so much in short periods of time.
5. Study many things at once
Many students make the mistake of studying for one subject at a time. They finish one exam and then move on to the next subject. This is one of the most destructive study habits out there. Face the fact that your exams come one after the other and start studying for all of them a little earlier, but in 20- or 30-minute intervals. After a short break, switch subjects. It decreases the level of boredom, keeps your mind challenged, and maintains your levels of motivation.
Find a place to sit where you’ll feel comfortable closing your eyes. Become mindful of your surroundings, your breathing, your heart rate, the sun, the din of the day, the whole thing. Hey, you’re alive! This is a great exercise that very often resets your attitude and keeps you sharp and focused.
7. Don’t sacrifice your social life to study
I’m not saying you have to party your way through college on overdrive with destructive habits, sleeping late and waking up totaled at 1 pm every day. But a healthy social life — friends and family that build you up — is great for your success. Make sure you cultivate your relationships while still giving studying the priority and attention it deserves. Many give up one for the other at their own peril.
8. Feed your mind
There’s no way to circumvent nature’s laws. You reap what you sow, and that can be said also for your mind. Be curious always. Love learning. Listen more than you speak. Seek wisdom and choose to cultivate intelligence. While it may sound a little fluffy, practice positive thinking and gratefulness. A happy mind learns far better than a negative, bitter, and cynical mind.
Featured photo credit: Yuri Samollov via flickr.com