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How to Study Smart Not Hard

by Chetna Vasishth

What if I told you that you could cover twice as much in half the time and be much more effective.

In this article I am going to tell you How to Study Smart, not hard with 10 scientifically proven techniques

10 Scientifically Proven Techniques


1. Study in Chunks

The Pomodoro technique says that you should study in chunks of 25 minutes, take a five-minute break, repeat this three times and finally, take a longer break. 25 minutes is just a suggested number, you could find your own perfect chunk of time by using a timer. Now chances are that you will not be able to finish revising a complete topic in this period of 25 minutes, and that is great because it will activate the Zeigarnik effect which basically says that the brain remembers incomplete or unfinished tasks and tends to forget completed tasks.


2. 20% Read 80% Recite

Sometimes we just read and read all day. From one subject to the next, we keep reading. And the brain is totally bored, so it stops retaining anything. Here’s a study smart technique – Read something, ask yourself a question, answer the question without looking at the book, in your own words and connect the information to something else. The perfect ratio is 20% Read and 80% Recite. Examples – always look for your own real-life examples to understand every concept, but make sure you check with the teacher on the relevance of your examples

3. Spaced Repetition

instead of studying a single topic for the entire day, how about you read and understood one single concept and then switched topics? And then came back later, next day maybe, and quickly went over that and then worked on a second concept. Repeating the same thing over time will be a better way to cement the learning, rather than spending lots and lots of time in one go. Also varying the topics and even subjects sometimes helps you in interlinking concepts which is a great way to solidify your understanding


4. Notes

One huge time saving tip is to look over your notes within minutes of the class getting over. Just browse the pages, add stuff that is still stuck in your mind but you didn’t have time to write and this is a really smart study tip5

The Best Note-Taking Methods

5. Study like a teacher

instead of studying like a student and trying to remember all the information, study as though you have to teach someone. This will help you think about the important questions from each topic and also teaching someone helps us in understanding things better. The smart study formula is Teach – Test – Mix. Which means, teach someone, take frequent practice tests and mix up the topics. And if you can’t find anyone to teach, teach your pet or stuffed toy

6. SQ3R

Smart Study tip to get the most of your textbook. First survey the chapter, browse the pages, then look at the questions at the end of the chapter. After that Read, Recite and Review. Read and Recite is back to tip no. 3. This will help you get the most out of the content in the least amount of time

7. Mnemonics

Here are some ideas of mnemonics and in addition you can use acronyms, coined sayings or image associations and the smart study tip here is that the weirder the image, the better. An example of a coined saying is when you’re trying to remember the order of taxonomic rank – King Phillip Came Over For Great Spaghetti – Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Genus Species OR SOHCAHTOA in Trigonometry meaning Sin = Opp/Hyp, Cos = Adjacent/Hyp and Tan = Opp / Adjacent

8. Place 

Some people like to study in a fixed place and some like to vary the place. Try to figure out your own type and use that to your advantage. Some people like to sit in one place whereas some others like to pace up and down or just be more active.


9. Time table

There is no tip smarter than planning. Plan your week, plan your day. Sometimes plan down to the last hour and you will be amazed at how productive you can become just because your brain knows what to do next and for how long. We have some great time tables before exams and a perfect time table for school and college students

10. Sleep

One big question people ask is – should I study at night or wake up early. A good REM sleep is the best food for the brain. Which means sleeping about 7.5 hours every day and no all nighters before exams. The best time to sleep is between 11 pm and 7 am. Research has shown that if you have a theory exam the next day you will benefit from going to bed early the previous night. You may think that you could study instead of ‘wasting time’ sleeping, but it has been scientifically proven that lack of sleep can cause more damage than not studying would.

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