Studying is highly individual, thereby, it is imperative that the learner get to know himself/herself first before he/she decides to follow a certain pattern or process of doing things.
Here’s the inside scoop on the real secret to good study habits.
· Accomplish a To-Do List.
Usually, deadlines come in bulk. There are so many things to study in so little time. What you need to do is you need to break them down into small, manageable “objectives.” For instance, if you have 5 things to accomplish before the week is done, you can choose to do only one thing a day. That way, you can still reach your deadline without feeling the burden of a gigantic iceberg on your head. Instead, you get to enjoy the snow cone every day. And don’t bite off more than you can chew – stick to the schedule – or you’ll definitely get brain freeze.
· Music and reading go great together.
For those who feel like listening to music while they study, don’t be afraid to do it! The long-established myth that music disrupts your train of thought is not completely true; it depends on the kind of study, and the kind of music you blend with it. For one thing, slow music is recommended. Furthermore, instrumentals are better because they don’t divert your mind from what you are reading to what the lyrics are trying to say. When you are simply reading or reviewing a material you have previously gone over or already know about, that’s when music works best. However, if you are still only beginning to learn about something – especially something analytical like mathematics – you would do well to turn the music off momentarily.
· Sync with your biological clock.
Everybody has an “active time,” when he/she functions best. Some feel more active early in the day, some are energized in the afternoon, many are more efficient when the moon is up, and still others find it easier to concentrate past midnight when only the crickets are awake. Do not force yourself to study at the exact same time everybody else does. Observe yourself for when you are most active, and study during that time. If you do not follow your biological clock, it would be like forcing to stuff your head with loads of information that would eventually leak out later in the day. Make sure that your mind is completely open – that is, during your “active time” – before stuffing it. That way, you’re guaranteed that it will seal off properly.
· The “Weekend-Before” deadline.
The best way to prepare for a test is to finish studying the weekend before. This way you can be more confident at the start of the week, and review your study coverage every day until the examination day. This helps to make the information second-nature to you, which would greatly assist you in recalling facts as well as in applying theories later on.
· Your “Study Laboratory.”
Choose a conducive place for study. Avoid a space that is full of clutter, and most of all, refrain from using your bed – this disrupts the sleep cycle, thereby interfering with your biological clock and destroying your study time altogether. Make sure you sit in a spot that is private, well-lit, adequately ventilated, and positioned in such a way that all your references, books, papers, notes, pens, clips, highliters, bookmarks, and all other study materials are accessible to you. You can remain seated or walk around while you study, but as much as possible, avoid assuming a lying position because this will invite either sleep or boredom during your “active time.”
· The Two-Hour Rule.
Study for a maximum of two hours, and then take a break. The brain needs to rest. Taking a short nap, a light snack, a cheerful chat, or simply listening to your choice of music provides great room for relaxation. Take note, however, that this Two-Hour Rule is a cycle. This does not mean that you should only study for two hours in a day, but that you take two hours of brain activity, followed by an average of 30 minutes rest, and then repeat the cycle. This process allows a feeling of calmness and energy despite the long hours of reading and analysis.
· Do the easiest job first.
If you have a long list of things to do, do the easiest ones first. These require the least amount of energy, so you wouldn’t have to worry about feeling too tired to do the more difficult projects afterwards. Also, a task that is removed from the list gives you a sense of accomplishment that further drives you on to the next task. Beginning with the most difficult job can be discouraging and draining, and may even make the easier ones more difficult the moment you decide to work on them. But then again, take note of the deadlines. Always do the assignment that is due earlier than the rest.
· Study backwards.
Tackle the fist exam last. For instance, you are to undergo a series of examinations that come in this order: First day – Physics, Second day – Math, Third day – History. The best approach would be to study History first, followed by Math, and then Physics last. This way, Physics will be fresher on your head on the first day of exams. After that you can simply review the other subjects to jog your memory. And since you’ve followed the “Weekend-Before” deadline, you wouldn’t need as much time to review your lessons as you generally would.
· Call a friend or two.
Group study can help – but only if you’ve read the material beforehand. Studying with others should not be done when it is your first time to read on the topic. Fist-time encounters should be done at your own pace, in your own “active time.” After that, you can freely call a friend or two and join a study group where you can share ideas and brainstorm on techniques to make the lesson easier. Having knowledge on the topic beforehand guides you on what to disscus next, thereby preventing time wasters which would eventually turn your study session into a pajama party – and if it does turn out that way, at least you’ve already gone through the lesson on your own.
· Sleep all you want.
Don’t deprive yourself of sleep. It’s a common practice among students to stock up on coffee so they can stay up all night. This will only make you drowsy during the actual class or examination, thereby defeating the purpose of studying in the first place. The body and mind repair themselves during sleep. If you feel sleepy in the middle of the day, then take a nap. Don’t think you’re wasting precious time, or that you can’t finish studying if you do. On the contrary, you’ll find that upon waking up, you’ll study more efficiently, concentrate better, and cover more pages than if you removed sleep from your schedule.