Jul 02 2020

How to Study Smarter, Not Harder

Aqib Raja


Education is the foundation for success. The way in which we study has a direct effect on our results which in turn leads to more choice and better opportunity later in life. Whilst it’s difficult to study for hours on end it’s a requirement that needs full concentration. There are many ways in which our brains retain information so it’s wise to understand your own personal learning style, when it comes to studying, however, it seems as though there is only one choice. This isn’t the case, there are plenty of ways to increase productivity and drive results by learning to study smarter. 

Address Your Mindset

Probably the most prevalent problem holding back numerous students is what they think of themselves. Fear of failure (or success), self-doubt, and the feeling of not being good enough plagued many pupils to the point where they are unable to study. Having these feelings is not only stressful but detrimental to your future life so fixing your mindset before starting any projects is essential. Being able to address and adjust your outlook is the first step to being able to study smarter. Positive expectations free from negative thoughts will enable anyone to progress and truly unlock their potential. Change your mindset, change the game. 

Variety Is Key 

Reading the same text numerous times can work for some, but be a hindrance for others. It’s been shown that different media stimulates different areas of the brain. The findings of a study made in 2008 reveal that it’s more likely one will understand and retain information when more areas of the brain are activated. For this reason, having access to the same information over a variety of different media will assist in information retention. Read any class notes followed by the textbook, watch a video, and create a mind map. It’s highly likely you’ll learn efficiently when exploring multiple avenues as opposed to reading the same text repeatedly.  

Study Multiple Subjects In A Day 

The view that it’s beneficial to study one subject for the entire day is outdated and detrimental to information retention. A study in 2012 discovered that studying multiple subjects throughout the day will help you stay focused and learn more efficiently. Certain subjects have information that is incredibly similar, when studying all day it’s likely the brain could get confused over which answer lies with what question. When the day is split up between multiple subjects it’s far less likely that the brain will scramble topics, instead, it will consolidate your learning. 
Review Your Revision 

Studying smart doesn’t mean information will be understood or retained instantly, it’s a process in which you can truly understand data in order to pass a test or write an essay. Reviewing your revision is essential when moving information from the short-term memory into long-term memory, allowing you to fully invest in the future. 
There is no optimal review interval due to the fact it’s down to the individual and for how long they want to retain the information. However, if true understanding is the goal then there will be a fair amount of revision. 
Getting on top of reviewing from the outset is the most effective way of retaining information. Revise your work the following day after learning new information, followed by another a few days after that, then once a week until you feel everything has soaked in.
Focus Your Time 

Many believe they are good at multitasking but it’s a common misconception, if anything it’s detrimental to work quality, productivity, and can even appear to reduce intelligence. It’s never a good idea to try and study whilst watching television, texting friends, or scrolling through social media so focus your time on a single topic. As previously stated, spending elongated periods of time on a single subject can have negative effects on learning so creating a study plan will be beneficial. 

Take A Break 

Staying focused and optimising any learning time is difficult when the hours become long. Days start to drag and concentration goes out the window, maybe bad habits start to sneak in and the mobile phone gets turned on. Taking regular breaks throughout the day will enhance your learning experience and keep you on your toes. A 5-10 minute break every 40 minutes or one hour will keep you on track and allow your brain to stay alert. 

Studying smarter is something that’s learned, not something that comes naturally. Many students stress themselves out by cramming and not having a proper timetable. Starting as early as possible will help you get the best grades possible, opening up many doors to later life. Study smarter, not harder.