Six Tips on How to Study Smarter, Not Harder

How did you feel when you got that good grade on your test? Excited? Proud of yourself? Or maybe you’re just relieved to be done with the exam. Yes, getting good grades feels good. But how can you make sure you don’t waste all of your time studying?

No one likes to feel like they are wasting time. Even though good grades are important, it’s even more important to have time for yourself and other important things in your life. People who work hard can suffer from stress, depression, and burnout.

Here are six tips on how to study smarter, not harder:

  1. Be attentive during the lecture/class
  2. It may sound obvious, but it’s not, so listen up. When you pay attention in class (when you take notes and do the readings), you have more important things to remember than what happened last night on the TV show “Lost.” As a result, you will have more facts about your class to learn for the test. And if you study your notes beforehand, it doesn’t take as much time because you already know some of the information.

  3. Write Good Notes
  4. If you are reading your notes and not thinking about what is being said in class, you waste time. When studying, you need to write down the important points from lectures, so take good notes. Not just jotting down for 10 minutes a day before class; make sure your notebook is filled out and easy to use.

    Be sure to:

    • Write complete sentences. Don’t write in shorthand or use abbreviations. Keep it simple and clear.
    • Use a page for each note session. And don’t mix notes from different classes together on one page. It is easier to learn from your notes if you can separate the material from different classes easily and quickly.
    • Draw pictures, diagrams, or tables when it helps you understand the information better.

    Be sure to organize your notes like this:

    • Date, time, and name of the course instructor
    • Book title, chapter numbers, and page numbers
    • Title of lecture or reading material you are reading
    • Key points or summary asked for in class or assigned in class (if assigned)
    • Number of pages on which you wrote notes
  5. Plan ahead for exams and assignments
  6. When you plan ahead, it will save time and make things easier when it comes time to study. If you just wait and do nothing about your test until the night before, studying is harder. It takes longer to learn because you have a lot more material to cover. If you know what your test is about, you will remember the information and less likely to waste time.

  7. Break tasks into smaller chunks
  8. You can save time by breaking down large tasks into smaller chunks when learning. For example, if you have a big project, divide it into smaller tasks and break each into steps. By doing this, you don’t have to remember as much, and you also won’t feel overwhelmed by the large project.

  9. Get Assistance
  10. If you get stuck on something and spend most of your time studying on one part of your course and don’t understand it, tell your teacher or tutor about it. Ask questions and tell them what you don’t understand. The more you ask, the more they can explain, which means you will learn better. Letting your teacher know early on will help you learn more.

  11. A good night’s rest is essential!
  12. Everyone knows that sleeping is important for healthy living and for learning new information. Studying at night can make it harder to remember what you study the next day, so it is important to enjoy a good night’s sleep before studying the next day.

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