How to Study Less and Study Smart

June 30, 2020
Est. Reading: 3 minutes

Let’s face it, we all want to do the best we can in our studies, but there is limited time. No one has a monopoly on time, and we must make the most out of it. In general, people can study efficiently for only about 30 minutes at a time, and studying more than 6 hours a day has been deemed as counterproductive. The truth is that the brain does not process data as well if it has been put to work for extended periods. An easy strategy would be to take a 5-minute break doing what you love after every 30 minutes to refresh and replenish. However, there are a lot more strategies that you should know if you wish to master the art of studying. Here are some tips and tricks you can apply to your study sessions to make it more productive and effective!

The Pareto rule

Also known as the 80/20 rule, the law of the vital few or the principle of factor sparsity. This is the natural phenomenon that states 80% of the effects result from 20% of the causes. This arose when the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto noted that 80% of the land in Italy belonged to 20% of the population. This is generally relatable to many other scenarios such as 20% of salespeople bring in 80% of the clients. When put into the context of studies, you could say that 20% of the time spent studying accounts for 80% of the knowledge learnt. Hence, if you could maximise that 20% of study time, you would be able to still gain a decent grade without spending countless hours on the books. 

So, how do we leverage upon our knowledge of the Pareto rule? We can utilise a stopwatch; setting aside 25 minutes for study time and a 5-minute break for every 30 minutes. Ensure that you focus within that 25-minute time-span and do something you enjoy for that 5-minute break. You could rest by watching a YouTube video, playing some video games or talking to a friend. 

Your learner type

Most types of learners can be streamlined into three types; auditory, visual or verbal learners. 

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Auditory learners

These learners like to listen or hear solutions and examples explained to them. For example, they may find that listening in class or to a podcast makes a subject a lot easier to learn than practising. As a result, they may tend to prefer themes in music or having group discussions. However, auditory learners tend to be distracted easily and may tend to talk to themselves, especially when doing memory work. The solution for an auditory learner to maximise learning speed would be to be seated away from distraction, and ensure that he or she takes audio recordings of what is taught in school so that he or she may listen to revise a subject.

Visual learners

These are the people that like diagrams, drawing out concepts, charts and processes. They learn by looking and observing rather than listening. Visual learners may find maps useful in geography, charts useful in mathematics and diagrams for learning logic. Solutions may include utilising a highlighter to colour-code certain information in notes or textbooks. In general, most schools leverage visual learning with paper or digital notes given to each student. A visual learner should capitalise on that to accelerate his or her growth.

Verbal learners

Verbal learning comprises both writing and reading. Verbal learners tend to prefer words to help them remember things more easily. Word games and poems can accelerate the learning process as verbal learners generally have a wide range of vocabulary and can use them effectively. Since they are always keen to add new words to their arsenal, verbal learners can benefit from having things by writing down notes, talking or presenting about ideas. Verbal learners can be further defined into either one that prefers conversations or one that prefers written communication. The key is to find out which type you are and leverage by engaging in more activities that are closely associated with your learning pattern.

When receiving a formal education in public schools, it is unlikely that there will be personalised learning catered to each student. You must be able to recognise what kind of learning style works best for you so that you double down on activities that can assist you. Otherwise, you may be wasting your time on methods that do not resonate with your learning pattern. This is one of the reasons why parents and students are spending so much money on extra help, getting private tuition whenever they can. However, as you reach the college level, you may realise that such support may not be readily available. It is up to one’s self if he or she seeks to adopt lifelong learning that will be beneficial to the rest of one’s life. 


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