How To Study Effectively: A Scientific Guide
Studying– the conscious act of reading and examining something minutely.
We, human beings, study to learn, acquire and imbibe information about anything, be it a person, an object, an idea or a concept. Studying and learning share an intricate relationship with each other. Readers will agree that the more effectively we study, the better and faster we learn.
Before we look into the different ways to study effectively, let’s find out why and how effective studying helps us learn better.
The Neuroscience of Effective Studying
Understanding the complex relationship between effective studying and better learning requires some detailed ideas about the neurological aspects of learning.
The basis of all learning is the cellular activities in the neurons of our central nervous system. When we focus our attention and gather sensory inputs from something, we are in the process of studying that entity or idea, and our cells in our CNS (primarily the brain) are learning or imbibing information about it.
Without going into the specifics, here’s how a look at how we humans learn better while studying effectively.
- Neurons adapt to the experiences of an organism. More profound and detailed learning experiences ( such as those that occur during effective studying) help the neurons acquire & store information better.
- Both chemical and structural changes in existing neural synaptic structures contribute to the learning process.
- Studying effectively involves rapt attention, reading/writing/solving intelligently and spacing out study sessions for better efficacy.
Our brain acquires sensory inputs much more effectively that way, and the neurons involved communicate much more effectively with each other through more effective synaptic associations & structures.
- Changes to the dendrites of a neuron also help the brain accommodate new information and learning experiences.
- Neurogenesis, or the formation of new neurons, has also been cited as a process that helps humans and other mammals assimilate further information while studying.
All in all, we can say that the more effective one’s study habits, the better our brain acquires and integrates the information obtained from the process.
So, how does one study effectively? The following section offers various tips and pointers for students looking to get the best out of their study sessions.
Please go through them and find out how to study effectively.
Studying Effectively: Expert-Approved Tips & Guidelines To Studying Smarter
Poor studying habits remain the most prominent reason most students require case study help, assignment writing help or any other kind of online study help from third parties. However, extra effort, hard work, focus, and an intelligent approach are necessary to take one’s study sessions to a whole new level.
While hard work and focus are subjective aspects, the tips below can be followed universally by anyone looking to study effectively.
- Space out your studies.
Piling up your academic tasks and studies for the 12th hour isn’t just ineffective but puts a lot of stress on the brain.
According to an article published by the University of British Columbia(UBC), experts state that the brain absorbs information better if there are multiple, shorter study sessions instead of a long-drawn on crammed with everything.
Doctor Todd Handy, UBC Professor in the Department of Psychology, points out a phenomenon called the consolidation process, where the brain is working on assimilating some learned information while a person is not actively thinking about it.
Spacing out your studies and recalling & revising previously learned stuff helps solidify information in the brain better.
- Simple Reading Is Not Studying
Active engagement, rapt attention and proper understanding are essential aspects of effective studying. Simply poring through some material is not enough; one must analyze, make connections, visualize examples and engage with intent.
Here are specific ideas for active studying.
- Develop a study guide according to the topics. Then, think up your queries, formulate questions and write your answers in that guide.
- Try to connect new concepts and ideas with the ones you already know. Then, use your intelligence and knowledge to make these intelligent connections.
- Creating concept maps is another excellent way to understand and imbibe any information faster.
Concept maps are visual representations of interconnected ideas & information. They can be of different designs, from flowcharts to mind-maps, Venn Diagrams, etc. These maps help in analyzing, connecting, comparing & contrasting information better.
Concept maps also help in chunking individual pieces of information for more effective studying.
- For numerical and technical subjects such as mathematics, natural and computer science, working on the problems and solving them frequently is a must for better understanding.
Work and rework on those challenging problems and explain the solution process in your own words. You will find yourself learning and solving things better that way.
- Avoid The Fallacy of Familiarity; Read & Revise Minutely
It is pretty common for students to achieve a false sense of accomplishment once they have read and re-read something multiple times. However, many start struggling when it comes to recalling essential information or solving some complex problems based on that subject.
- As mentioned in the point above, simple reading does not amount to effective studying and learning. Instead, use concept maps and flashcards to jot down vital information quickly.
- During re-reading & reviewing sessions, do not just read as you did before; study in-depth, understand minutely, take notes and solve exercises. Instead of reading straight through the content, pause every ten minutes and jot down notes.
Revisions are a vital aspect of effective studying. They help the brain recollect information and makes learning easier.
- Put Yourself To The Test
One of the most potent ways to retain information is through examinations.
During any traditional test or examination, our brain recollects acquired information and analyzes it in light of the given problem. So, naturally, the more we test our knowledge, the better it’s retained in the brain and the better we perform. This is the logic behind the age-old adage; practice makes perfect.
Solve exercises& question papers and partake in timed tests are some of the best ways to get your mental faculties up to the mark. It allows the brain to re-engage with acquired data ad further solidifies it.
Test your skills and knowledge often, and exams, assignments & semesters will seem no hurdle at all.
- Get Rid Of All Distractions
Distractions impeded any studying & learning process. The biggest reason should be evident to the reader; additional sensory inputs interfere with information flowing in from studying. Be it a chat with a friend or a good movie, never study with any distractions around you.
Switch off or silence that phone. If you are studying on a computer, disconnect the Internet or restrain yourself from using it unless necessary.
While many suggest that listening to calming music aids in learning, try it yourself and switch it off if it seems too distracting.
- Set Up Your Own Organized Study Space & Routine
Create your own study space that’s free of distractions and gives off positive vibes. It should be spacious, well-lit, well-organized, with all necessary study resources readily available. Also, know when you are at your productive best; some people are more focused and effective in the morning while others are at their best during the evening. Yet, some learn things best while burning the midnight oil.
Switch up your setting ( study space and time) if you realize they are no longer conducive to studying.
- Group Studies Can Be Very Effective
Group study sessions allow sharing of knowledge and obtaining help from your well-prepared peers. Engaging in effective studying with your friends offers an opportunity to bounce ideas off one another, understand concepts better and solve challenging problems faster.
Just make sure that you and your friends do not get distracted or diverted.
- Manage Your Time Well & NEVER Procrastinate
Time management is another crucial factor for studying effectively. Follow a definite daily routine with dedication and diligence. Never put off things for later; get things done before time becomes critical.
On those easy weeks with minimal studying pressure, use those extra time to get ahead on your studies & assignments. Time and tide wait for no man, so never waste time allotted for studying.
Take control of your calendar and plan out your daily & weekly schedule. First, determine all that you need to study and all pending academic tasks. Then, allocate appropriate time to each task and divide up available time accordingly. You will find yourself becoming more productive and studying more effectively that way.
- Eat, Sleep, Study, REPEAT
The human body is the most complex machine in existence. And, just like any other machine, it needs rest and a supply of energy. So study effectively with focus and diligent effort, but do not forget to take some intermittent breaks. Those breaks help the brain consolidate any acquired information better.
At the same time, adequate sleep and proper nutrition are necessary for the brain and the body to function at optimum efficiency. So, don’t skip your meals, EAT HEALTHY and get some sound sleep. If you have a habit of studying late at night, try to ditch it or make sure you get at least six hours of solid sleep later on.
One other thing that can be a big help is a physical workout. An article by the experts at the Harvard Medical School points out frequent, or if possible, regular exercise helps the brain function better.
- Be Positive & Seek Assistance If Necessary
An optimistic mindset is vital for effective studying. No matter how tough the concept or the problem, believe in yourself and never give up. Study intelligently, follow the tips above and focus on attaining your objectives, whatever it takes.
Always keep in mind that struggles and hard work will only help you become better than what you are. So, reward yourself for your successes. And, if things become too problematic, never hesitate to ask for help; it does not make you seem weak but showcases your will to overcome hurdles and limitations.
And that finally brings us to the end of this article. Hope it was an informative and exciting read for all readers alike.