Mind Over Matter: Helpful Hacks to Improve Your Studying Skills
Studying can be fulfilling but also stressful, especially when it comes to learning scientific facts, statistics, formulas and theories. Just as there are simple mistakes to avoid when preparing for exams, there are things you should make sure you do when it comes to learning. Here are just five of them.
Finding what works for you
Naturally, we all work most effectively in different ways and, out of the recommended approaches to boosting information retention available, it can be hard to know what will work best for you. However, it’s worth testing out a handful and focussing on the methods that seem to be most effective for you. Here are a few tried-and-tested approaches to revision that often have positive results:
Go for a brisk walk before studying: “getting some air” can be much more than just using an opportunity to clear your head. Recent studies have shown the benefit of going for a brisk walk before revising, particularly when compared to sitting still in the 20 minutes or so beforehand. Students who have been on a short, moderately-paced walk before a revision session have been shown to have a significantly higher successful recall rate than those who haven’t.
Say things out loud: you might feel self-conscious recounting what you’ve learnt aloud, but, in the right environment, there’s no need to. Find a place with no distractions and go through what you’ve learned out loud. Repeat this a few times. Hearing your words – maybe even recorded – as opposed to just seeing them written as text, will make it easier for the information to stay with you and you will gain confidence about the topic at hand.
Teach someone else what you’ve learned: peer learning – that is, students learning from one another – is a popular technique used by teachers in schools and universities alike. Rather than being an act of laziness on the teacher’s part, it is a potentially very powerful teaching strategy that enables students to feel more confident about a topic, whilst also making it easier for students to understand something explained in a classmate’s terms.
Choose your fonts wisely: research has shown a correlation between font style and information retention: people remember a lot more information that is written in an unfamiliar font than that which is written in a more familiar, easy-to-read font. By making the brain work harder at reading, more of the material will be absorbed; you’re made to focus more fully, which pays off.
Practice mindfulness: briefly, mindfulness is the art of being fully present in the moment.It can take a while to master, but can also be a very powerful tool when it comes to revision. Studying for exams is intense and stressful at times; mindfulness can equip you with the tools needed to calm your mind and revise more effectively, giving yourself try best chance of doing yourself justice in the exam. More information about mindfulness and its benefits can be found on the mindful website.
Stick with the techniques that work for you. Whichever they may be, make sure you give yourself regular breaks. As tempting as it can be to cram everything into non-stop studying sessions, it is actually counterproductive to do so. Your mind and body need to recharge. Good luck!