I left school so long ago that it actually hurts to remind myself how far away my youth is, but that doesn’t mean that studying is over – actually, far from it. Back to school season is in full swing, which means that whether you’re preparing to go back to school, start University, or just coming back to your career after a summer holiday, studying is important.
Not only is studying essential for passing school and University, but in later life, you’ll find that studying is crucial to staying ahead of your career. Whether you’re learning a language, adding a new skill to your belt, or trying to become First Aid Trained, the way you study is important. I wish I knew back then that studying doesn’t have to be mad sessions in the library cramming last-minute information until three am! Here are some life-saving study tips that will help you learn literally anything in no time.
1. Read and re-write the information you receive
Most of us passively read and highlight the information in front of us, but that’s not being absorbed into our brains. The best way to start your studying journey would be to re-write the information in a notebook. But, write it in your own words. If you can take a piece of information, like a fact about mitochondrial cells, and jazz it up with your own sense of humor and language, your brain is more likely to remember it.
2. Take notes by hand, always
Always write your notes down. Yes, you can type fast, but writing connects your thought processes with the information you’re processing. Writing creates a deeper understanding of the work, which helps it to stick in your mind. The right planner or notebook will help you take better notes and study harder to get stuff done; for example, if you want to take streams of notes, you can try the Make It Happen notebook.
If you’re more of a fan of bullet journaling, The Master Plan is the best dot-grid journal you can try. If all you’re looking for is a daily plan that helps you track your daily goals and self-care, the Getting Stuff Done planner is the one for you.
3. Teach someone what you know
The very best way to retain information is to teach it to someone else. If you’re learning a language, take five minutes to teach your friends or family members what you know, if you have an exam, try teaching someone else the topic. You’ll easily learn what you need to in no time.
4. Make time to test yourself
Test your knowledge after every study block you do by preparing a ‘quiz’ for yourself. It’s fine if you don’t know the answers to the practice exams and tests you’ve set yourself, this just shows where your gaps in memory lie and what you have to do to make up for it.
5. Turn off your study playlist
Yeah, we all think that we work better with a banging playlist on, but music actually prevents you from focusing your full attention on the task at hand. If you want to take your studies seriously, you should try classical music – or nothing.
6. Don’t listen to music while you study, as it serves as a major distraction.
Just like a phone that keeps vibrating or someone in the house that won’t stop interrupting you, music prevents you from focusing your full attention on the task at hand.
7. Make a mind map of all the connecting pieces of information you have
If there are gaps in your memory, connect them by creating a mind map on a large piece of paper and using colored pens to group pieces of information that relate to a single subject together. If you make it visual, you’re more likely to remember associated concepts.
8. Use associated concepts to remind yourself of important information
I’ve been learning Portuguese passively for the past ten years, and I cannot speak a word of it, but I can understand conversations. I did this by connecting words I heard to concepts I already knew. For example, the word for toilet in the region of Portugal I most often go to is casa de banho; I managed to stick this to memory by associating the pronunciation (which is more like casa-bine, the de is so quiet) with words I already knew in French. I know that banho is associated with bathing because of French study at school, and everybody knows that casa means ‘house’ or ‘room’, so it’s pretty simple.
More complicated concepts like ‘where are my keys to the garage’ were easily committed to memory by breaking apart the words. Chaves means keys, so I pictured a pair of keys every time I said the word ‘Chaves’, and now that works. It’s all about learning how to associate concepts with things you already know and that have meaning to you.
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