This is useful if you have trouble actually sitting down and getting your work done because it gives you an end-goal. You only need to work hard until the buzzer goes off and then you can relax. Often, when we’re studying, we don’t see an end to the work or we think that we’ll have to be working for hours. This technique gives you manageable goals.
Here’s an instructional video
- Work in intervals: 25 minutes on, ten minutes off
- Use a timer
- While you are working, close all social media and internet pages that are not directly related to what you are doing
- If you get distracted, keep a notebook next to you where you can write down what is distracting you so that you get it out of your head and can focus on the task
- Repeat as many times as you need to in order to complete the task
Flashcards and Spaced repetition
This is useful if you are studying something with a lot of rules or facts.
Flashcards help with your recall and can be useful when you have to memorise facts. Using spaced repetition (increasing the intervals between your flashcards) helps you to remember things for longer because it allows your brain to develop stronger pathways to the information. Essentially, when you forget something and then have to relearn it, it sticks better.
- Make three piles: the ‘Repeat every two days’ pile, the ‘Repeat every day’ pile, and the ‘Repeat every week’ pile.
- When you learn a card, add it to the ‘Repeat every two days’ pile.
- If you’re struggling to remember a card, add it to the ‘Repeat every day’ pile.
- When you’re sure that you know them, add them to the ‘Repeat every week’ pile.
Method of Loci/Mind palace
This is a good strategy if you’re good at remembering faces but not names. It shows that you have a very visual memory. If you can connect a fact to a physical space and then visualise it, then the fact should be easier to remember when you need it. Here’s a video that goes into more depth about it.
- Put up cards/posters with the information you’re trying to study around your room/apartment
- When you’re trying to remember the information, picture where you see it on the wall. This position-focused memory will help you to recall it
- When possible, draw the information using symbols. Your mind is better equipped to remember these
Reading a textbook
If you’re in a time crunch and need to read as much as possible in a very short time, this might help. You should always try to make time to read deeply and critically, but there are always days when you realise that you’ve got a lot of reading to do and not enough time to do it in. So these are useful ways to get the basic gist of the reading:
- Skim: If you’re in a time crunch, read the topic sentence and conclusion for each paragraph. This will give you a feel for what you’re reading, what paragraphs have the most important information, and what the chapter is generally about
- Read the summary, review items, and vocab lists – this will tell you what the chapter wants you to learn, so that you can skim the chapter with this in mind.
- Re-write the chapter’s summary in your own words
- Pay attention to the formatting of the text – focus on what the author wants you to notice, such as:
- Items in bold
Other reading strategies
When you are reading a textbook or lecture notes, it can seem like you’re just re-reading and re-reading until the information somehow gets stuck in your head. These strategies help you to be careful that you don’t spend more time reading than you need to.
Consider the assessment that you are reading for, and apply one of the following reading strategies to suit it. Remember to keep your syllabus and the teacher’s comments during class in mind when you’re reading. Assessment types will determine how you study.
- Multiple choice: Focus on the details, take concise notes in easy-to-remember chunks of information
- Summarising: Focus on the main ideas, creating a kind of mind map or tree of knowledge so that you can see the connections more clearly.
- Essay/write something new: Make notes of what you’re reading. Summarise in your own words