At Stonebridge, we know that studying isn’t always easy. But there are little things that you can do to make the process easier. We have collected a range of ideas and study tips from our students and provided you with the top 8 to help you make the most of your study. You’ll never be late finishing our coursework or unprepared for an exam again (hopefully)!
Please note that study techniques vary from person to person, so give these a go and discover what works best for you!
One of the most daunting parts of revision and studying is actually getting started, especially when faced with reams of material. One way around it is positive thinking; if you look at all the work you need to do and get afraid, that will carry on throughout your revision and it will get worse, leaving you fretting about getting everything done in a rapidly reducing timeline. Instead, you should break up your workload into smaller, more manageable chunks and mentally note that you can do this! Your work will instantly appear less daunting and you will get through each section much quicker.
Re-writing can be one of the most effective forms of studying (providing it isn’t a subject like Mathematics). By writing out your course notes and any additional information and then continuing to re-write them, you will condense the information and make it easier to retain. This technique is ideal for kinaesthetic learners as you are putting energy into writing the words down on paper, creating shapes and patterns, thereby making study a physical process. Plus, this technique also prepares you for continual writing which is great in exam conditions.
Cramming in study is a definite no! Studying a year’s course in one night or writing and proofreading a piece of coursework in a matter of hours to an acceptable standard is impossible. The stress and anxiety, as well as panic, will overcome you and the amount of knowledge you take in will diminish, leaving you susceptible to blank outs in the exam. One final night revising is perfectly normal but you must have had at least a full week studying beforehand; everything you look at the night before an assessment should purely be to re-jog your memory on the key points. So, make sure you know all the main facts and figures weeks in advance by giving yourself plenty of time to grasp the information early on in your study programme.
Studying endlessly for hours is not only unwise, it’s unhealthy. Your mind needs regular breaks as it can only absorb so much information in a short space of time. We can all remember a time in school when our minds started to wander – this was your brain attempting to take a break! An ideal routine would be to have a break every hour for at least 10 minutes. For example, if you start studying at 9am, take a break at 10am and then commence work again at 10:15am for another hour. Repeat this throughout your study period. Your brain needs to absorb what you are trying to remember and continually working and not stopping will not help. Simply getting away from your computer screen to make a cup of tea or taking a quick walk will allow your brain to digest the information you’ve been looking at, leaving it refreshed for the next phase of study.
Study Tools – Laptop, Notes, Cue Cards
The study tool you use depends on how you prefer to learn. If you prefer to study and type up notes on a laptop or PC, make sure you have your tech ready to go before you study, so you’re not distracted by updates or notifications popping up on screen. A good way of continuing your study is to print off electronically-made notes and read them through after each computer session, adding an additional information to them as and when required. If you prefer manually writing notes then stay away from a computer as it will be a distraction. Ensure that you have all the stationery you need for the task available beforehand so that your study session isn’t interrupted by popping to the shop to restock on pens etc. Another useful method for study is the use of cue cards. They are great tools for memorising points as their limited space requires you to fill each card only with important and essential information. Therefore, they are perfect for remembering the foundational information of any study programme. Plus, you can take them out and about with you, as they are less bulky than a laptop of chunky notepad, so you can refresh your memory on the go!
Revision Rewards – “Study without ambition is a bird without wings”
A very simple way of motivating yourself for study is to have a reward system in place. For example, for every module completed you may want to reward yourself with half an hour of TV or a slice of cake from your favourite bakery. Whatever you choose, you’ll find it much easier to get through all the information in front of you. These little rewards all help you on your journey towards an even bigger reward: success and qualification at the end of your course.
Colour coordinating and coding your notes or course material is a great study method as your brain will associate certain colours with specific information. You could highlight specific types of information in certain colours or choose to write out your notes in coloured gel pens. Here’s an outline of how you could colour coordinate/code your study material:
- Green: Core notes from the course, things that are absolutely essential, key dates, people etc.
- Blue: Supplementary information but would make good answers or arguments for a question.
- Yellow: Personal opinions. Exams are about what you have learned and if you agree with it or not, not just regurgitating what you have learned.
- Pink: Noted authors, additional factual evidence to back up your arguments/ make a case against.
The other advantage of this approach is that it breaks up text, making it easier to pick out the main information and remember in the future.
The Caffeine Rule
Like cramming, drinking loads of tea/coffee isn’t as good an idea as you may think. All that caffeine will give you a burst of energy, leaving you feeling more awake in the short-term, but could lead to a crash (aka a study slump) later in the day as the caffeine leaves your system. Therefore, relying on caffeine in a study environment is a recipe for disaster if you want to sustain your study throughout the day. It is important to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day though to keep hydrated, as dehydration has been linked to decreased brain activity and fatigue. Rather than reaching for a cappuccino, we recommend having a glass/bottle of water to hand during your study sessions to keep you alert and your brain healthy.
We hope that these study tips and hints have provided you with some positive and new ways of looking at your revision and will help you to reach your study goals. However, there are dozens of other ways to study that we haven’t included here. So why not let us know what works best for you in the comments below?