How to Study?
Create your own study plan and follow it
There cannot be generalized schedule for all as everybody has different studying styles which they have developed eventually. Some students prefer studying in early morning whereas others might prefer studying in night. So don’t follow somebody’s schedule, create your own as per your studying habits.
- Arrange your subjects in descending order of difficulty. Give high priority for difficult subjects.
- In your schedule don’t allocate equal time to all subjects. Allocate more time for difficult subjects and less for easy subjects. What is easy or difficult will vary individually depending on their ability, interest and IQ.
- Don’t plan tight schedule as it will be difficult to follow. Keep it loose by keeping time margin for dynamic activities/emergencies which cannot be foreseen while planning.
- Different subjects require different types of skills. So schedule subjects as per your abilities keeping in mind your strength and weakness.
- Do maths or Solve problems in afternoon or night when you feel sleepy.
- Do theory subjects when you weak up as your mind is sharpest a few hours after waking up. .
Anyone can make a schedule, but not everyone will commit to it. Setting a schedule for study will be useless if you don’t commit to it. When it comes to study, students experience commitment issues because they have so many distractions. Commitment takes discipline and dedication.
Organize your study area
When your study area is organized, you spend more time on productive activity. You don’t waste time looking for notes, pen, etc.. While studying, searching for items will not only waste time but will add to stress. When you feel stressed, your mind rationalizes that you should relax. This opens you up for distractions.
While studying you might need books, notebooks, Question bank, previous year Question papers, Paper solutions, pen, pencil, eraser, sharpener, marker, high lighter, post it notes.
Some times studying for long hours at same place in same position can be boring and create problems like backache. So have 2-3 alternative places for studies like chair, floor, bench, steps (avoid bed as you might feel sleepy).
Find a place to study with as few distractions as possible. Everyone may not like same studying environment. So whatever settings (table, chair, head phones, lights, etc..) you need for studying put it in place before study. Just make sure that when you sit down in your study area the only next step is to study.
Use “Focus Blocks”
A focus block is a time period that covers your maximum focus on an activity. The duration of a focus block varies from person to person. Whatever your focus block is, dedicate that time period only for study. For example, if you believe your focus block is good for 60 minutes, study without any interruption for one hour. This means no water or bathroom breaks. You must only study!
Keep some realistic target before you start a focus block, like reading X number of pages or solving X problems or covering X topics. At the end of the focus block, check did you achieve your objectives? In case not then try to extend the focus block till you complete your target. While setting target make sure it is achievable in that time period.
On successful completion of your target, reward yourself with a few minutes of unrelated activity. You may check your smart phone, get a snack or take a nap. The purpose of having free time is to “reset” your mind for the next activity. As a general rule, the length of free time must not exceed 1/3 of your focus block. If the length of your free time is more than 1/3, you risk being distracted or side-tracked. To avoid this set alarm for break time to remind you when your break is over and get back to studies.
During Focus block, switch off your mobile phone and TV. Read my another blog post “Digital distractions for studies”
Tips for studying:
- While reading text/reference books make your own notes, highlight important points in your book/notebook which will be useful for your next reading.
- For each topic/chapter make 1 paper note which can be used for quick revision before exam.
- Use different colours while creating notes. Use different colours as per importance of that point. Everybody likes colourful notes as compared to monotonous black n white text from books.
- For subjects like mathematics, Don’t read problem solutions, solve it. At least solve 1 problem of each pattern.
- For theory subjects, if time permits try to write down whatever you have learnt. Do not write that topic immediately after reading it. Allow some time to forget and then try to write it. This will give you more confidence. Those who only read theory get sometime blank during exam as they don’t remember anything
Sometimes it’s boring to study alone at one place. Also you need help for understanding some topics or solving problems. Your friends are best source for such help. For that you can do group studies. Drawback of group studies is more time is wasted in other discussions than studies so objectives are not achieved. So limit your time for group studies for example 2 hrs a day. Choose your least productive time for group studies, so even if you waste it you will not lose much. If you are not achieving your goals of group studies then better stop it.
Another idea is to join different online groups or forums where you will get answers of your questions without wasting much of your time.
During exam time students tend to sit late night or have night outs for studies. Which should be avoided. As you study for longer time as compared to regular days, your brain gets stressed and fatigue. So you feel more sleepy during exam time. You need minimum 7 Hrs of sleep every day, out of which my suggestion is to sleep for 6 Hrs in night and 1 Hr in day time in between focus blocks. Taking power nap is good because it allows your mind to recover. So you can have 30min. two naps or 15 min. 4 naps during day time.
Don’t eat more less times, rather eat less more times. Eating more at one time will make you feel sleepy. Read my another blog post “Special care for Exam time“.
Exercise helps blood circulation. You are able to think and function better when blood is circulating efficiently throughout your body. Another benefit of exercise is its ability to manage stress. A nice long walk is a good way to clear your mind and focus on finding solutions.
When to exercise? There really is no ideal time. It depends on where you can comfortably fit it in your schedule. Make sure that you exercise for 20 minutes every day. Don’t do any heavy exercise after which you will exhaust, drain out and feel sleepy. Prefer light exercise like swimming, walking, Yoga, etc.. Remember healthy body will lead to healthy mind.