I am quite aware that a number of my readers have a need to study something; whether it’s for an undergraduate or postgraduate degree, a bible, a novel, or any other book. Nonetheless, when it comes to
understanding and recalling any written material we have to be very intentional about it, that’s it is important to study and not just glance through pages.
When one studies he actively takes steps to assimilate material with the purpose of understanding, and this understanding helps him remember the knowledge studied when it is required. I believe that when you set your mind to study you wish to remember, right? So I’m going to share some of what I’ve learnt and have been taught about studying, with the hope that they’ll be helpful.
- Know the kind of person you are. Please be attentive to how you learn best. This will help you to truly make the best out of each study session. There are those who learn majorly by listening, some are visual learners and others by studying. The two former groups may use studying as a supplement to their main learning method, but for the latter they need to be more intense with each study period. Some can remember almost perfectly if they just study a topic once, others need to repeat it a couple more times to remember, and that’s okay. You need to examine yourself if you haven’t already and figure out which method works best for you, so you can approach learning from a smarter perspective.
- Set a time. To those who don’t ‘have time to study’, I will say this quote that I’ve heard a thousand times: you have time for what you make time for. This has worked for both myself and others in many areas, so it is out of experience that I recommend this. It will be wise to take an inventory of each hour of your typical day, you may be surprised to find out how much time you’re spending on unprofitable activities. If what you’re studying is a priority to you, please make time in your daily schedule for it. Are you a morning or night person? It’s best to study when you’re feeling most vibrant during the day.
- Set a place. As humans we are individually unique, so we can utilise different conditions to achieve the same goal. Libraries are not for everyone. Some of us like to read out sometimes and the library rules do not permit that, while others cannot understand in noisy environments so the library become their study quarters. Be honest with yourself, don’t go to places just to feel ‘among’, and do not subscribe to the idea that there is only one ideal place to study for everyone. Just be sure that your study venue is safe and you’re not breaking the regulations of that place.
- Know what is expected of you. Most, if not all, courses have an outline, enumerating what is expected of each student to know at the end of studying the topic. Please try to utilise this. When you’re done with a topic try to see if you know what you’re expected to know. This is where solving past questions can also come in. Try to repeat what you’ve learnt without looking at the material. You can do this in various ways, by scribbling them down, saying them aloud, or reciting them to a study partner.
- Schedule breaks. You can only have an attention span for so long. Experts have advised that it is best to read for a maximum of 90minyes at a stretch. Saying that you’re going to read for four hours straight may not be as beneficial as studying twice for two hours each with a 15-minute break in-between. Active studying is very engaging to the brain, so it needs time to relax so that you continue to be effective in understanding what you’re seeing. If you’ve ever been in a three hour lecture, you can testify that in the first 30minutes you very so active in the class, but in the last 15minutes your attention span was almost or entirely out. If you need to study for six hours in a day to finish your course material it may be more beneficial to split that time into portions that you can slot in at different times of the day, for example two hours in the morning, one in the noontime and three in the evening or night. It’s not as overwhelming for your brain as doing it all at once, and you just might find yourself being able to remember more.
- Sleep well. I cannot stress this enough. A huge part of the consolidation process in the brain is performed while we are asleep. So having inadequate sleep to have more time to study may not be such a bright idea. It is recommended that a 5-hour sleep period each day for adults is adequate to maintain good mental function. If you’re sleep deprived, it may be the reason why you’re having trouble recalling what you’ve read.
- Start early. It’s the little drops of water that make the ocean, every time. If you start studying while exams still look afar off, there’s less tension in your mind as you study, you can take more time to understand concepts instead of cramming them last minute, you have more time to go over them and ask questions if you’re having difficulty understanding. When exams come you won’t be under the pressure of packing numerous new concepts into your head at the same time, rather you’ll be revising. You’ll also not have to cut out sleep, so you’ll be less likely to ‘blank out’ during the examination. Please don’t keep postponing your study. Exams are always closer than you think.
- Study in a No Distractions Zone. Understanding requires attention, and if you’re doing more than one thing at once, chances are that you’ll get less than optimal results in those two tasks. Please be very intentional about cutting off distractions during every study session. If your phone is the issue but you have lecture slide on it, you may need to put off your data connection or switch to airplane mode for this period. If it’s conversations with friends (gist, for short), you may need to be apart from them when you’re studying. All these things will still be there after you finish studying, so just think of it as a small sacrifice you have to make for a successful outcome.
- Last but not least, there is the work-pray formula. I cannot overemphasize the power of prayers. Now, I intentionally placed this point last, not because it’s the least important, but to shed more light on us doing the needful first. God is always faithful, and in His mercy he gives us success even when we didn’t do what we were meant to do at the right time, but please do not abuse this grace. When you do your part you have a seed that God can mutiply a thousand times over. When Jesus was faced with the feeding of over five thousand people, He asked what they had first, then He took it and blessed it, and it was multiplied. You cannot be asking God to bless the works of your hands when you’re not working, 0 multiplied by a million is still zero. I believe that studying teaches you way more beyond any subject. Through studying God has taught me on faithfulness, discipline and honesty with myself. I do not believe in extremes. You study, and you pray. You pray, than you study. It’s called balance.
Are these all I have to say? No, but because of length this is where I’ll end. These are just my recommendations, and I too, as every other human, I’m flawed, so these pieces of advice are not laws set in stone. However, these tips have worked for me and improved my approach to studying over time.
No matter the method you find to work best for you, please remember this: it’s not about how long you study, it’s about how well you study.
Thank you for reading.