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Working Smarter: Our Top Student Study Tips

29 April 2022

We all know that studying can sometimes be a bit of a slog, especially around exam periods.

That’s why we’ve decided to compile a list of some of our top study strategies to help you along the way. 

 

Have a Study Routine and Be Consistent

It’s a good idea to stick to a schedule of regular study so that you don’t fall behind.

Cultivating good study habits can really make a huge difference with concentration and the amount of information you’re absorbing.

Don’t just leave studying until two weeks before exams, either. Instead of blowing the cobwebs off your textbooks and notes in a flurry of pre-exam panic, aim to cast an eye over your lecture notes at least once a week. 

That way they’ll stay fresh in your memory and interconnected ideas will make more sense. If you don’t, when it comes to revision the notes might seem like relics from a distant past.

 

Plan Your Studies

Some people like to set out all of their study plans in advance. Having a digital calendar or even a paper planner can help you to organise and visualise all of the responsibilities in one place.

You can mark down important dates like exams and set aside time a week or two in advance to dedicate to revision and preparation. It’ll also help you to prioritise should anything more exciting come up. You can organise your social life around important dates this way.

Setting alarms can be a good way to enforce study boundaries so that you know when to knuckle down and when to go for breaks.

Writing to-do lists at the beginning or end of each day can also be useful for prioritising workloads.

 

Find a Good Place to Study

Find an environment that works for you, and a time of day when you feel most focused and productive. Maybe listen to some calming or motivational music to help you pay attention to the task at hand. Perhaps avoid songs with lyrics as they can be distracting.

Set up a study space that is comfortable and free from distractions. Some prefer to go to the library, others work from home. Here at Novel we offer amenity spaces and meeting rooms to allow you to study outside of your room at least some of the time. Winding down at the end of the day can prove harder if you’ve spent all day in work mode in the same room.

Stick with study habits that work for you and you’ll go far.

 

Elaborate on Ideas

Memorising tracts of information may work for some people, but for most of us mere mortals to comprehend it we need to make it personal to us.

Ask questions about the topics you’re studying, go a little bit more in depth about the whys and hows. Put ideas into your own words and form opinions about them. 

Don’t just accept facts at face value. That way, you ensure that the material is truly ingrained in your consciousness and isn’t just something that will vanish at the first sign of exam nerves.

If you study with friends, then quiz each other on concepts and ask them to explain their answers. That’s a foolproof, if slightly humbling, way to quickly discover any gaps in your knowledge.

To make the subjects your own, perhaps make personalised study materials. Many students like to make flashcards and even make up their own practice exam questions. 

The very act of creating these unique materials is a form of revision and will give you a sense of ownership and connection to the information.

Put complex ideas into your own words and try explaining them to people around you. If you really grasp a concept you should be able to explain it to your friends or parents in simple layman’s terms.

 

What’s Your Learning Style?

It’s a fact that each person has a learning style, although they may not be aware of it yet.

It’s worth thinking about what sort of learner you are. 

It’s no use trying to swallow reams of text if you are a tactile learner, or dedicate yourself to flashcards if you’re better suited to learning with podcasts and audio.

Which one sounds like you?

 

  • Auditory learners

These are the students that only have to hear an idea and they retain the information. They don’t necessarily need to see the concept demonstrated or as an image. If that’s your style, try reading your notes aloud and discussing them with people around you. Podcasts might also help.

  • Visual learners

This could be you if you learn by sight. This is the type of student that greatly benefits from using colours, highlighters and diagrams. Visualising ideas as images also helps.

  • Tactile/kinesthetic learners

If you’re a tactile learner that means you learn best by doing practical work. You could include role-play or making models to revise key points.

 

Use Visual Aids

So you’ve taken a bunch of notes in your lectures and now it comes to revision period and you’re faced with a mountain of information. Don’t let the disarray of your notes lead to information overload. 

Break down the information into colour-coded sections. Colour is a dynamic way to organise information and will help you to prioritise ideas. Use highlighters or coloured pens to separate sections. Write key points in red and remember not to colour everything – just the priority stuff!

Visual learners often benefit from creating mind maps. Organising information in the form of a diagram helps you to see the bigger picture. The main question is written in the centre of the page, while all the major ideas are written around the central topic, like spokes on a wheel or branches on a family tree.

It might also help to try and use associative imaging with written concepts. For example, if you’re learning about complex physics theories, try to associate the names with faces of people you know, or with vivid situations.

 

Practice Makes Perfect

A great student hack for acing exams is to do lots of practice tests. That way, you’ll get to know the layout of the exam itself and be able to anticipate the sort of questions that normally crop up. No nasty surprises on exam day and you can hone your technique and your timings.

 

Get a Study Buddy

Organising study sessions is a fun way to break the monotony of revision and one of the best studying techniques. You’re still dedicating time to study while also getting in some quality time with your friends. 

Just make sure your study group is as dedicated to their studies as you are. You will probably learn some new study skills from each other as an added bonus!

Novel’s meeting rooms are the perfect place to gather with your friends and get studying together.

 

Step Away from Your Phone

Social media can prove to be a massive distraction for most students. The incessant ping of social media notifications can make it extremely difficult to pay attention to your work.

While social media is a fun and useful way to disconnect, it should be used in moderation.

Social media can have a massive impact on your sleep pattern. Haven’t we all been guilty of lying in bed scrolling through Instagram reels while our eyelids are drooping from sleepiness? 

What’s more, the light of your phone’s screen prevents you from being able to fall asleep. That surely has a knock on effect on your energy levels and concentration the following day. 

Turn notifications off at night and leave your phone on the other side of the room on charge, to take away the temptation to keep scrolling.

 

Switch It Up/Take Breaks

Switching off from studying can prove difficult for some people, but trust us, it really helps you in the long run. Many people keep going even in the face of tiredness, and that just leads to burnout and is not conducive to effective  study.

If you feel like you’re tired and the information isn’t sinking in, set a timer for 20 minutes and have a break. Take a nap, go for a walk, and chat with friends. Do anything to break the monotony. You’ll notice an increase in your focus afterwards, and a change of scenery will do you good.

On that note, sometimes it’s a good idea to study in a new place. Yes, we know that we said at the start that you should choose a place and stick with it. 

However, if you feel like the routine is really boring you and stunting your performance, a change is as good as a rest. Maybe go to the library on some days and a coffee shop on another day.

Last but not least…do NOT cram for exams the night before big tests! Space out your studying over a long period of time. Let your mind make those long-term connections so they can be easily recalled later.

 

Shake Your Booty

Getting your body moving can increase your energy levels. You don’t have to spend an hour doing cardio at the gym to keep active. Sometimes all it takes to find your study motivation is a 20 minute home workout or a walk around the block. 

Shaking off fatigue and getting your heart rate up improves brain function and overall cognitive performance.

It also releases endorphins, which reduces stress and makes you feel happier. A happy student is a productive student!

 

Eat Well

Make sure you’re eating a healthy, nutritious, balanced diet. 

Students are famed for their love of fast food and many opt to snack on sweets and sugary snacks while revising. While sugar will give you a temporary energy boost, it will lead to an energy slump.

You should be aiming to snack on foods that are slow-burners like fruits, nuts and beans. 

Healthy foods boost your energy levels long term, and strengthen your immune system, so you won’t get run down and poorly before exams.

You should also eat 3 hearty meals a day to keep your brain in top functioning condition – and stay hydrated with 2 litres of water a day!

 

Ask for Help if Needed

We all get stuck every now and then. Don’t struggle in silence. 

If something doesn’t make sense to you, ask your teachers or lecturers for help. That is part of their job and they will be able to clarify any doubts for you. 

Ask your friends too. Remember that all learning and growth involves making mistakes and asking questions.

 

Get a Good Night’s Sleep

It might be tempting to do late night cramming sessions in the days leading up to exams, but don’t do it! Studies show that there is a strong relationship between students’ grades and how much sleep they’re getting.

Sleep is crucial for healthy brain function and memory formation. If you’re exhausted or even just running on 50 percent energy you won’t be able to retain as much information.

It’s also been noted that studying before you sleep, with something as simple as flashcards or notes, can help with information recall. Your brain processes information as you sleep – just don’t be surprised if you have weird dreams!

 

Make Yourself at Home

Finally, in order to be a productive student you need to be happy at home and have a place to relax after a long day of revising. Don’t underestimate how important a healthy living environment is for your peace of mind and overall wellbeing. 

Here at Novel we offer safe, comfortable accommodation with social spaces for a well earned chill out after studying.  Get in touch today.

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