Okay so maybe we should clear something up first: there is no actual hack for studying. With the risk of sounding like your teachers, you will need to work hard to get through your exams with the grades you deserve. That being said, there are some awesome techniques you can use to get the most out of the hours you put in.
Why spend 10 hours learning a chapter when you can nail it in two? Let's have a look at ways to streamline your working process.
It may not have the nicest name, but this technique is a winner for boosting your memory. At its most basic, chunking is the idea that it's easier to remember things when you learn related ideas in small manageable chunks, rather than cramming in an entire topic all at once.
A great example of chunking happens when we learn phone numbers. Instead of remembering each individual number in a long string we chunk the parts typically into threes. So 4-8-8-7-0-4-9-0-1 becomes 488-704-901.
Chunking works so well because it is basically a hack into our memory limitations. Trying to process your whole textbook at once is simply too much for your working memory, so you will remember very little of what you studied by the next morning. In contrast, chunking breaks the information into manageable amounts that you can convert into your long-term memory.
In practise, this means if you want to learn a large amount of information in a small time-frame, try grouping facts together in ways that make sense to you. Then learn these as separate chunks.
2. Break up your time
When you're in full-throttle panic about your work, it can seem natural and efficient to study for six or seven hours at a time. Surely clocking up solid library hours will help you prepare for the big day! But while there may be the occasional need for an all-nighter essay crisis, as a rule it is a terrible idea.
Studying is a marathon, not a race, and it's important that you take plenty of breaks to keep you refreshed. Not only will you collapse under the weight of back-to-back all-day study sessions, but it's also an incredibly inefficient way to learn.
The human mind has a limit to how long it can focus. Half an hour to an hour is about the max for learning new information. Several hyper-focused, one hour spurts throughout the day with breaks in between will be far more productive than 10 hours reading the same paragraph 200 times.
3. Use your friends
While it can feel like you and you alone are carrying the whole institution's exam expectations on your shoulders, there is at least a classroom full of people who are in exactly the same boat. So use each other.
Don't just test each other either. One of the best ways to utilise multiple brains studying the same material is simply to have a considered discussion about the topic. It's amazing what you can learn from somebody else's interpretation, and logic that you previously couldn't follow may become much clearer when expressed in someone else's words.
Sleep is essential to good study performance
There is a reason sleep deprivation is an interrogation technique. People who haven't recharged their batteries with plenty of rest are:
- Easily distracted
- More likely to make errors
- Prone to long and short-term memory problems
None of these side effects are going to help you perform well in an exam room, no matter how many hours of cramming you were able to do. Get your full eight-nine hours a night to get the most out of your studying.
Struggling to get your head around your studies? Get in touch with the specialists at Studiosity who can give you round-the-clock help with your work.