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7 Student-Tested Study Hacks That Work

7 Student-Tested Study Hacks That Work

Do you spend hours studying with less-than-fruitful results? Do you find it hard to memorize specific dates, names, and formulas? Fret not; keep reading to discover seven student-tested, grades-approved study hacks that work.

1. Unconventional Locations

Don’t limit yourself to the comforts of your desk or the silence of the library. Be creative. Some people actually work better in places where a little bit of ambient noise exists, such as a local cafe or the park. Studying outside (especially with flashcards) has also been shown by numerous studies to increase attention span and mood regulation, minimizing feelings of boredom or frustration. Other great places include the bus and waiting in line.

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2. Unconventional Times

Right after school? Just before going to sleep? It may be better to sleep earlier (say, at 10) and wake up earlier, so that the material will be fresh in your memory for the day. In addition to that, it is also a great idea to review notes right after taking them in a class. Revising half an hour into a lunch break is a very effective method — just enough to maximize memory formation, without the afternoon post-consumption grogginess.

3. Stop Highlighting

Highlighting actually hasn’t been shown to increase study rendition. Instead, it potentially creates too much focus upon specific, sometimes unnecessary details. The goal is to understand whole concepts, not simply specific points. A mind map can help a lot in this process, visualizing the connections in between notes. As an alternative, using the color-coding technique is popular — and for a good reason: one color for titles, another one for subtitles, so on and so forth.

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4. Study Actively

Stop reading the textbook. Yes, you read that right. It seems counter-intuitive, but this point is key — especially for memorization. Reading is passive — it does not cement learning. Get an erasable whiteboard and write down as many points that come to memory, such as years of events or mathematical formulas. The repetition of this procedure helps with both short-term and long-term memory; it’s a win-win situation for that information storage. Take notes by summarizing, speaking out the facts, and self-testing yourself — these are all valuable techniques.

5. Water, but Not Just Water

Instead of pure water, try drinking fruit water. Not only is it more aesthetically pleasing, it provides those extra vitamins to keep your brain alert and going throughout the course of the day. Remember: studying is not a sprint — it is a marathon. There are special water bottles with build-in infusers that allow the powerful flavors of the fruit to gradually diffuse, resulting in a refreshing, unique taste. This works best with ice-free, cold water.

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6. Consistency

Aim for quality over quantity, unless, of course, the subject requires a lot of practice with problem-solving (e.g. the sciences). More time spent does not positively correlate with the grade obtained or knowledge cemented into the long-term memory. Aim for routine, not necessarily at the same time chunks everyday, but make an effort to revise consistently — don’t skip a single day. Make sure your notes are legible and well-spaced for easy reading and understanding. Put a sticky note or sticker on parts of your notes that are confusing — it is important to clarify every issue as soon as possible.

7. Using Intuition (With Caution)

Think like a teacher. If certain pieces of information just happen to stand out and make themselves known to you, then there is a very likely chance that it will appear on the test or examination. Most textbooks have a summary section near the end of the chapter, which exist specifically for revision. Even if it is not assigned, doing the extra questions never hurts in the long run. Being over-prepared leads to confidence, but being under-prepared leads to anxiety.

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Now, take out those pens, books, and notebooks. It’s time to study smart — not hard.

Featured photo credit: Wallpapercave via wallpapercave.com

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Lily Yuan

Full-Time Student

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Last Updated on March 23, 2021

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

You need more than time management. You need energy management

1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

2. Determine your “peak hours”

Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

3. Block those high-energy hours

Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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