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Wednesday 2 April 2014

Tips and tricks for effective studying

So today's post is a little different. Since it's revision period for uni students, and soon to be revision period for A-levels and GCSEs, I thought I'd share a few tips that I've learnt along the way to help me study. I still find myself procrastinating more than I should, but these things definitely help me to stay on track!

1. Find out what type of learner you are

There are three main types of learner: auditory, visual and tactile. When it comes to learning content for school/uni, these are normally limited to auditory or visual. Do you learn best when you listen to things or see them written down? Lots of people could answer this straight away, but if you're unsure there are tests online which could help you decide. Once you've decided upon this, you can then think more specifically about how you remember things best. Do you remember more if you listen to things in the morning, afternoon or evening? Do you remember things best if it's on a mind map or in a list? Maybe flashcards? I've come to realise that I'm a visual learner, who finds mind maps useful, but really benefits most from practicing past exam questions.

2. Schedule breaks

Knowing when your next break from studying is means that you're more likely to work effectively during study sessions. It gives you something to work towards, and breaks up the monotony of the day. There's no point working (probably not very effectively) for 8 hours straight when you can include breaks and come back feeling refreshed and ready to go.

3. Take mini breaks every two hours

It's been proven that concentration levels decrease significantly after about two hours of doing a particular task. Therefore, even if it's not time for one of my scheduled breaks, I try to remember to take about ten to fifteen minutes out. Recently I've been using this time to play a few games of 2048 (here), which I like to think keeps my brain active enough to keep me in the studying mood. However, the mini breaks should be used to do whatever it'll take to refresh you and get your concentration levels back to their maximum.

4. Use an extension to limit your access to particular websites

I procrastinate a lot. I also procrastinate to avoid procrastination (this involves things like tidying my room, which shows that I've reached another level of desperation in my quest to avoid working). Therefore when I really need to get stuff done I use the StayFocusd extension (found here) on Google Chrome. This allows you to create a list of websites you want to limit access to, or create a list of the only websites you want to be allowed to visit. There's also a nuclear option which blocks all of your limited access sites immediately for a certain amount of time, with no way to reverse it. Definitely useful when deadlines are approaching!

5. Keep your workspace tidy

Anyone who knows me will probably laugh at how hypocritical it is for me to advise other people on keeping things tidy. However, yesterday I did have a little panic about the sheer amount of work I had laid out in front of me after changing revision topics. Once I'd moved the work for the previous topic out of the way I found that I was able to concentrate more easily because I could focus on just one thing.

6. Plan your time

In order to ensure that each of your topics gets the appropriate amount of attention, it is vital to plan your time. Everyone has favourite topics, and so it's all too easy to spend twice as much time studying for these as any of the others. To avoid this, I know quite a few people who use Microsoft Excel to schedule in blocks each day for different topics. This works for people who prefer to know exactly what they'll be working on. However, this isn't my favourite method of scheduling revision, as it makes it feel like your studying has been restricted to the topics you scheduled days or weeks ago. And, sometimes, you just don't feel like you can tackle a particular topic. The method I prefer is deciding on a certain number of hours per week for each topic, and then keeping a tally as you study. This is more flexible and still ensures that your attention is spread properly across all topics.

I hope some of these tips might be useful to you! Have you got any other tips for working effectively?

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  1. Great post, I'm trying to write my dissertation at uni at the moment so very useful :)

    Josie xoxo | Fashion Mumblr

  2. According to modern research in which, scientists are saying that students cannot study when they are in a group of friends because continuous distraction keeps you distract from your studies and make you use your time.