The idea of getting good grades without studying 24/7 may seem like a paradox.
But have you ever noticed some of your friends getting As despite knowing that they had only put in minimal effort?
Meanwhile, you spent hours and days studying to achieve the same level of results.
Is it a matter of being naturally gifted then?
While there are individuals with high IQs, no one is naturally gifted.
In fact, research suggests that brilliant minds are made, not born.
At some point, some of the most brilliant minds probably struggled with how to get good grades.
Many Nobel Prize laureates, for instance, were unexceptional in their childhood.
The late Albert Einstein was slow to talk and was dubbed the dopey one by the family maid. Surprising, right?
This then begs the question: how to get good grades without studying 24/7?
How to get good grades: Finding the right approach
The answer lies in studying smart, not hard.
But before delving into how to get good grades without relentless, round-the-clock studying, it pays to understand why the notion of perpetual studying to do well is a myth.
Many students, in pursuit of good grades, believe that they must immerse themselves in their books at all hours.
This approach, however, may be counterproductive.
Take training for a marathon as an example.
Marathoners will share that running 24/7 isn’t the right approach to training, as it can result in injuries.
Instead, they would recommend that you get comfortable with running and, along the way, incorporate other forms of exercises, like strength training, to help build muscles for long runs.
Likewise, the approach of getting good grades by studying 24/7 will likely backfire.
Here are a few more reasons why overstudying may be counterproductive:
– Diminishing Returns: The longer you study continuously, the less effective your study sessions become. Your brain gets more tired, and your ability to retain information decreases.
– Stress and burnout: Overloading yourself with study hours can lead to stress, anxiety and burnout, which are detrimental to both your mental and physical well-being.
– Inefficient learning: Focusing solely on the amount of time spent studying often leads to inefficient learning. It’s not about the quantity but the quality of your study sessions.
– Lack of balance: Neglecting other aspects of life, such as your friends and family, exercise and relaxation, can result in an imbalanced and unhealthy lifestyle.
How to get good grades without studying 24/7: 5 powerful tips to follow
If you really want to know how to get good grades, here are a few strategies worth exploring:
1. Set clear goals
One of the most effective ways is setting clear objectives.
Before diving into your study session, define what you want to accomplish.
Setting specific, measurable goals provides direction and motivation to study.
For instance, you can tell yourself that in the next two hours, you will go through three pages worth of notes and complete one page of assignment.
One reminder is to always set deadlines for your study goals, or else you may end up procrastinating or taking too long to complete them.
2. Use active studying
Active studying means processing whatever information you’re trying to consume in an engaging manner.
This can be done by having a discussion with your peers, taking down notes or even completing mock exam papers.
Active studying engages your brain more effectively than passive studying, which is merely consuming information by reading or listening.
Simply reading texts and notes would make it hard for your brain to retain the information, as it is not engaging enough.
That’s why students who read their materials always feel sleepy within minutes!
Active studying helps to engage your brain, promoting deeper comprehension and retention.
Other techniques of active studying include summarising, paraphrasing, teaching the material to a fellow student or using flashcards for active recall.
3. Use the Cornell note-taking system
Why do students take notes? To organise their information into an understandable format that will assist them in their studying process.
However, you’ll need to know that note-taking means writing it down, and not typing on a laptop.
Research has even shown that writing notes is far more effective than taking notes on a laptop, according to Cornell University.
One effective note-taking method is the Cornell Note-Taking system.
Developed by Cornell education professor, Walter Pauk, the method involves dividing your notes into three sections: cues, notes and a summary.
Here’s how it works:
- Cue/Question Column: In the cue column, write down keywords, questions or prompts related to the main notes you’re taking. These cues will serve as a guide when you review your notes. For example, if you’re summarising a lecture on the causes of global warming, your cues might include “Causes of Global Warming,” “Key Events” and “Solutions.”
- Notes column: The notes column is where you record the main content of the lecture or study. Write down important points, explanations, examples and details. Use abbreviations and symbols to take concise notes while ensuring you capture the essential information.
- Summary section: After you’ve completed your notes, use the summary section at the bottom of the page to create a brief summary of the entire page’s content. This is a critical part of the system as it forces you to synthesise the material and identify the most significant points. Your summary should be a concise overview of the entire page of notes.
This note-taking system organises your study material in a way that enhances understanding and retention.
4. Embrace the Pomodoro technique
The Pomodoro Technique involves breaking your study time into short, focused intervals (typically 25 minutes) followed by a short break.
This approach prevents burnout and helps maintain your concentration and productivity.
In fact, celebrity (yes, celebrity) Tom Hanks can attest to this.
He used the technique to help him focus on writing his novel, ‘The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece,’ which was published in May this year.
While the effects of this technique may sound too good to be true, it is an effective method to break tasks into manageable chunks and maintain a balance between focused work and relaxation.
5. Space your study sessions
It has been proven that spacing out your study sessions over an extended period significantly enhances long-term memory.
In fact, Nate Kornell conducted an experiment to compare two study strategies — spacing study and massing study — to determine which strategy is more effective.
He found that 90% of participants who adopted the spacing study method learned and retained more information, whereas only 6% of participants who adopted the massing study method achieved the same results.
Last-minute cramming might help you pass the test, but it will not lead to long-term retention of the material.
If you’re adopting the spacing study method, it’s worth noting that the most effective practice is to work a short time on each topic every day.
The total amount of time spent studying will be the same compared to one or two cramming study sessions, but this approach helps you learn and remember the information more deeply, improving your chances of acing the exam.
All in all, it’s not about how long you study; it’s about how well you study.
By practising these strategies and techniques diligently, you’ll soon stop fretting about how to get good grades without the need for 24/7 studying.