How to study smarter is one of the questions you might ask yourself as a student.
A lot of students struggle with studying effectively. There is so much reading, writing, group projects, presentations and of course the exams. On top of that there are endless distractions – smart phones, video games, TV etc.
Why are some people so good at picking up new information? The answer is they have learnt “smart” techniques which they apply to every part of their lives.
How to study smarter – here are our 10 top tips:
1) Read more
Reading books and newspapers trains your brain in a number of ways. It’s no surprise the top leaders, CEO’s, entrepreneurs and politicians read a lot of books. An average person reads a book a year, but the average successful person reads a book a week!
Take Mark Zuckerberg, for example, the founder of Facebook last year announced he would read a new book every other week and would post his weekly recommendations to his millions of followers.
Billionaire Bill Gates reads about 50 books per year, which breaks down to 1 per week.
Entrepreneur and founder of SpaceX, Elon Musk, is a big fan of reading and when asked how he learned to build rockets, he said “I read books.”
Reading books and newspapers will also help you as a student to gain commercial awareness. Employers look for candidates who are aware of current affairs and regularly keep updated with industry news.
2) Apply past knowledge to new situations
This is essentially about learning from experience. It is possible to train your brain to make new connections between old ideas, and be able to connect unrelated concepts or data by drawing from your experiences. This will make it easier for you to solve problems, come up with new ideas and develops flexible thinking.
These skills will help you with your studies and in your future working lives. If you’re wondering how to study smarter, making connections between different concepts is arguably the most important technique.
3) Get into lively debates
Deep conversations with friends, classmates and colleagues enable you to think about things in different ways. For example, one person may have thought of a new way to approach a piece of coursework.
The more different views and opinions you surround yourself with the more connections you create in your brain, as you then interpret that new information. Lively debates also enable you to think and respond faster.
4) Find the funny side
If you can see the funny side of what you’re reading or working on then you will have a greater chance of remembering it. Also, the act of laughing increases endorphins, the happy hormone, to the brain and provides a sense of pleasure. This makes our brain work better, helping with memory and recall.
So, don’t feel too bad about all that time you spend watching funny videos on YouTube. Here’s one for you, but then get back to work…
5) Challenge yourself
Give yourself a challenge today. New activities stimulate your brain, for example, learning a new language. Anything that breaks your routine or involves you doing something brand new will be good for your personal development.
Are you nervous about speaking to a large audience? Try facing your fear and signing up to give a presentation. You are far stronger than you think. Through constant challenge you can discover your greatest strengths and develop self-confidence.
6) Write things down
The simple act of writing something down on a piece of paper has a chemical effect by increasing blood flow to areas of your brain responsible for your memories. Try including writing in your daily routine. Start a diary, create a plan for the week or month, or start your own blog. Get into a habit of writing notes during your lectures or while reading textbooks, rather than typing them. Regular writing not only boosts your memory but helps with your creative thinking too.
If you have a study goal in mind, write it down. If you want to apply to 20 graduate jobs in the next two months, write it down. Remember to be specific and put the piece of paper somewhere you can see it every day.
7) Eat well
The better the fuel your brain gets, the better you will study. A good, healthy diet will keep your energy levels up. Good things to eat are oily fish, eggs, fruit and vegetables and peanut butter. Surprisingly even chewing gum can help people be more alert.
Eating well is guaranteed to help your brain perform better. Don’t wait until exam revision time to get into these good habits. Start now.
8) Build a memory palace
How to study smarter? Improve your memory. Building a memory palace is a technique used by the ancient Greeks and Romans. A memory palace represents a place or series of places that you can create in your mind to store information that you need to remember. Why do this? Well, your brain remembers information better when it’s told in a story. The trick is to create vivid mental images and locations, which are impossible to forget.
9) Teach it
A great way to remember new information is by teaching it to someone else. Get a friend or classmate to be your audience and present to them. Go into as much detail as you can, using props such as paper and pens. Learning with others can help you remember ideas and complex information.
Teaching what you have just learnt to others helps you recall, and retain in a much more engaging and interesting way than just reading over the material by yourself.
10) Get invested
The more interested you are in a topic the more likely it is that you will remember the information you come across. It will become easier to understand new concepts. When you’re in a lecture or doing group work be genuinely interested in the task. How can you become more involved? How can you find out more about the topic?
Find a way to enjoy the work you are doing, as this will help you to become better at it.
Summary of 10 tips on how to study smarter:
- Read more
- Apply past knowledge to new situations
- Get into lively debates
- Find the funny side
- Challenge yourself
- Write things down
- Eat well
- Build a memory palace
- Teach it
- Get invested