Smart Study

Smart Study means learning to put in the least amount of time and effort for the best marks or grades.

Such a goal and definition make sense.

Near exams, even the smartest of students often struggle to complete their work; they never feel quite ready – there is simply too much to do and too little time.

Anything that saves time has clear value.

There are many tools that can be used to help you to study smart and they vary from general advice, to specific devices that assist memory in particular, and understanding in general.

Here are some thoughts and ideas on how you can study smart.

  • To help improve understanding it is important that you take a holistic approach to all your learning.

This simply means that you try to retain what you read and understand, bring it to life through discussion and debate, and represent it in different formats; interlinking ideas which you think are connected.

It is important to remain playful and creative in all learning.

Use colors and give vivid expression to your thoughts and understanding. Your imagination needs an outlet; occasionally let it run riot!

Simply because you are hardwired in a particular way does not mean you cannot experiment with a little ‘out of the box’ lateral craziness!

Greatness is often born of trying something different, something unique, and not sticking to the same old boring ways of doing things.

Indeed there are people who, because they are wired differently, see numbers and letters as colors. This condition is known as Grapheme-color synaesthesia.

Some, in recalling their experiences, talk about converting Ps to Rs by changing yellow to orange.

Now there is some food for the creative imagination!

  • One way of taking control of large quantities of seemingly disconnected information is through the use of ‘chunking’.

Chunking simply means lumping several ideas together because you see some common pattern between them…

For example, the letters u, r, e, n, b and m may appear to be disconnected and difficult to remember as individual letters.

However, when written as ‘number’, or lumped together, you can see that they have meaning and are much easier to recall.

Organizing information is much easier if you can spot patterns, especially across seemingly unrelated topics.

Why not think of atomic representations as merely your private solar system? There is a difference of scale, yes, but the macro and micro models are clearly similar.

  • Similes and metaphors are another device that can be used tocompare different ideas.

Adopting these different approaches will re-enforce understanding from different vantage points and strengthen memory and recollection.

  • Drawing analogies is another way to compare and remember different thoughts.

If you don’t fully understand at the start, don’t let this stop you from trying!

We all fumble and get things wrong at first, but with practice you will improve.

Often because there is a lot of information to take in, it is important that you highlight what is relevant and limit your main efforts of study to what you believe will be on that exam paper.

Knowing what to study is just as important as knowing what to leave out…

  • Learning powerful memory techniques is also beneficial since a lot of exams are more a test of recollection than understanding.

There are many powerful memory techniques that are available from association and hooks, to taking journeys around your home or some other destination with an attached story line.

Again do not hesitate to test and practice these techniques till your memory becomes a potent tool for study and precise recollection.

Who knows, you might already possess photographic memory?!

  • Managing your study time and avoiding distractions is also very important.

This is best done through devising a study plan that is simple and feasible.

Change and adapt it according to how well you succeed in your study goals.

Inflexibility limits your ability to adapt to new challenges.

Of course,the last thing you want is to leave exam revision till the last minute thereby causing exam anxiety.

However, even with the best of intentions, these things can happen and having coping strategies in place is also necessary.

This can be done in a number of ways that include maintaining perspective of the broader situation.

In other words, whatever the outcome of your study efforts, for better or for worse, it is not the end of the world and what really matters is that you keep going and trying your best.

An alternative is to do some exercise or simply go for regular walks.

What you will lose in time, you will gain in the quality of your application to your study.

Remember Smart Study is more about The Quality of Work, and less the quantity.

Never give up hope -as long as there is hope, you can still succeed.

Loss of hope can lead to inertia and procrastination where we are constantly finding ways not to do things.

Procrastination takes many forms and can range from ‘beating about the bush’ and wasting time, to downright paralysis because of fear.

It is not a healthy state and sometime external, professional help may be needed.

Smart students avoid such states of mind!

  • One way to gain that edge over other students is to ask lots of questions, both in and out of class hours, and build up some idea of what you are likely to be tested on

Teachers are often only too happy to clarify things you don’t understand and showing enthusiasm for their subject will put you in their ‘good books’.

As they say, better to test the teacher before they test you!

No teacher wants to expend effort if students aren’t listening or bothered.

Teaching and learning is a two-way street with the teacher becoming inspired and delivering better content if the students get him/her fired up!

A good, enthusiastic attitude soon rubs off on others so show interest and keenness in your learning.

In class, unless the seats are taken, sit at the front. If you have to sit further back, don’t slouch but lean forward and show interest!

You would be surprised how much your focus and listening improve.

However, it should not be all study and no play.

Long study periods without a break are never a good idea.

Pay attention to what your body is telling you, your bio clock, and aim to use all your senses in learning if the material and time allow you to.

This is especially true when studying abstract ideas, which often need concrete representations for retention.

Keep a balance in your various activities and life in general.

Take part in some sport and maintain your hobbies.

There should be time for reflection, and time for action.

Don’t let one encroach on the other.

Get regular exercise and avoid late nights by sticking to routine and ritual through the use of a thoughtful timetable.

Don’t let the timetable become a decoration on the wall. Adjust and change it as needed but never ignore it!

Of course you can’t live your life on an empty tank so that means eating a variety of foods at regular times but in small amounts is also very important.

They say you are what you eat so whatever you do – don’t become a couch potato!

And if you still have time and energy left, get out those text books and

  • Try teaching what you are learning to others.

Learning should not be just about going over your class notes every hour, but also fun and play.

What better way to learn than to offer your learning to others, either through explanation, or some concrete model.

You often learn best when you give others access to both

  • How You Think

and

  • What You Think

Ready to be challenged.