ways to study
Nobody has time to trial and error out the best ways to study. Science can help — here are some tips from the latest research on productive study. Source: Christina Quicler/AFP

Study smart, not study hard, they say. They’re right. Nobody has time to take the long route to passing that history class or getting that A in lab assignment. That includes going through the trial and error of several random ways to study.

Why do that when deadlines call? It’s time to get efficient.

The good news is scientists have done the legwork for us. Here we highlight what the latest research has to say about the best ways to study. We hope at least one of them work for you, fingers crossed:

1. Use short blocks of time

Say hello to the Pomodoro technique. Pomo-what? Think of short blocks of time with maximum concentration and minimal distractions. Since 1992, it’s known as one of the best time management methods to beat procrastination.

ways to study

Each interval is known as a pomodoro, which translates to “tomato” in Italian. Source: Franck Fife/AFP

The Pomodoro technique asks that you create a to-do list — this is an important step, researches have always emphasised the need to set priorities and tackle difficult tasks first.

Focus on a task for 25 minutes, break for five and so forth. After finishing four rounds, you can have a longer rest.

If you’re interrupted during a Pomodoro cycle, start a new one.

2. Find out what motivates you and what you avoid

Philip Gable, Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Delaware’s research found that our emotion tampers with how we perceive time.

A positive state of emotions makes time appear to pass more quickly. This makes it easier for us in achieving goals.

Gable and his team found “how approach motivation causes our sense of time to speed up, but avoidance motivation causes it to slow down.”

Naturally, students need “approach motivation”. Writing in The Conversation, Gable explained:

“The speeding or slowing of time may help us achieve these goals. When time passes more quickly, it makes it easier to pursue a goal for a longer period of time. Think about a hobby you enjoy and how time passes more quickly when you’re engaged with it.”

If you feel time is still dragging, try to incorporate exercise into your daily schedule or turn your homework to a hobby or routine to speed up how you perceive time.

3. Create something in the process

If you make something out of it, you’ll learn more from whatever you’re reading, reviewing or studying.

ways to study

Flash cards help a lot. Source: Christine Quicler/AFP

Start a series of flash cards. Make charts. Compile a graphic organiser. With these, you become an active learner, according to Janine L. Nieroda-Madden, an Assistant Professor of College Learning Strategies and Instruction at Syracuse University. Nieroda-Madden has studied homework since 2010.

Don’t forget to organise them. Write dates and topics on whatever you’ve created. When it’s time to review them for tests or quizzes, it’ll be easier to get to them.

4. Seek support

ways to study

Don’t be shy to ask from help. Source: Fred Tanneau/AFP

Another one of the ways to study effectively is always to seek help. Nieroda-Madden suggests identifying what’s confusing and recording your thoughts.

Then craft very specific questions to your teachers, tutors, and others.

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