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Studying can be very stressful and the tension builds when there are stringent timelines involved. Study strategies differ according to preferences and there are no hard and fast rules to indicate that one strategy is superior to the other. Below are some tips that can be considered:
- EAT A WELL BALANCED MEAL AND GET ENOUGH REST
Before attempting to undertake any study session, ensure that you have had a well balanced meal and that your body has fully rested. This will eliminate any feelings of weariness and inattentiveness and fuel your brain and your body for better performance and mental agility. Sleep facilitates the brain’s processes in the conversion of short-term memory to long-term memory. While you may want to “burn the midnight oil” to maximize study time, keep in mind that you will be more productive with a good night’s sleep and a balanced meal.
- REMOVE DISTRACTIONS
Ensure that your study environment is comfortable and that all of the materials required for a successful study are easily accessible. Switch off your mobile phone as you may be very inclined to scroll through your phone and engage in online activities while studying. Every person is different in terms of what they require for successful study. Some persons need to have an absolutely quiet environment and others focus better with some background noise like light music or the sound of the television on. Whatever your preference, ensure that you are as comfortable as you need to be to avoid unnecessary distractions.
- THE PQRST METHOD
This method assists in the improvement of a reader’s understanding and retention of information in 5 easy steps.
• Preview: Preview the material. Skim through major headings and points of the information / chapter. Read the summary to get the gist of what you are going to learn.
• Question: Formulate pertinent questions to be answered after you have studied the material.
• Read: Thoroughly read each section of the information / chapter associating answers to the questions formulated in stage 2.
• Summarize: Summarize the information to the best of your understanding simplifying in your own words for better retention. Jot notes, draw diagrams associate your readings with real life scenarios.
• Test: Answer the questions formulated in stage 2 without looking at your notes. Recall the information you have read.
The concept is much simpler than its complicated spelling. Mnemonics is a system created to assist in remembering information easily through the use of methods such as a pattern of letters, ideas, or associations. For example: Use the first letters of a sentence within your text and paraphrase to create a more memorable sentence like Order of Planets: (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto) paraphrased to My Very Energetic Mother Just Swam Under Nine Pools.
- MIND MAPPING
Mind maps are very organized diagrams that intuitively arrange chunks of monotonous information in alignment with your brain’s natural function. The information is arranged in a more visually and mentally stimulating way that affords for easier analysis and recollection. Ideas are not constrained by any particular order rather it is “mapped out” with the main concept in the centre connected by associated ideas or subtopics. These are illustrated by the use of words, numbers, colours, lines and images into branches with more detailed information that are all linked together. Aside from studies, Mind Maps can also be used in goal setting, interactive presentations, decision making and team brainstorms / projects. With the advancement of technology, there are numerous options for Mind Map apps and software available, if you are not into the traditional method of pen and paper.
When you enter into an examination, you are required to write your answers. So it would make sense that during your study sessions, that writing becomes a predominant part of your study strategy. The act of writing helps strengthen your cognitive brain function and you are able to process and retain information better than by simply reading the material. After studying, try answering questions by writing the information, repeat a few times and before you know it, the words will flow effortlessly onto the paper. This method will also be great practice and preparation for writing in your examination.
Example of a mind map ↴
Our brains are capable of storing an incredible amount of information. So, it is up to you as the individual, to determine a strategy or combination of strategies, which work best for you and adapt to it, for easier absorption into the brain.