How to Study Effectively

11 February 2019

I’ve been actively studying now since my GCSE’s yet it’s taken me until my final year of Uni to actually figure out how I study best. There’s been a lot of trial and error throughout the years, mostly me underestimating how prone I am to distraction and procrastination. With that being said I’ve put in place a few extra steps to maintain my sanity during study season and minimise the time I spend staring blankly into space. Hopefully you can apply these tips to studying for your A-levels and see a difference in the amount of time it takes to get the work done.

1.    Get Organised 
This means knowing of when your deadlines or exams are and organising your study time accordingly, by writing deadlines down in a calendar or planner as soon as you’re given them you’ll never be shocked by work sneaking up on you. This gives you a general sense of what you’ll need to be doing when, and how long you have to complete each assignment. Following on from this its best to get started ASAP even if this just means choosing a question for an assignment or picking out a topic which you struggle with. Setting out a plan from the start helps to combat procrastination, you’ll feel better for having made a start even if it is only small. You may also need to consider if you work best in isolation or around other people; do you work best when someone else is there to spot if you’re getting distracted, or do you need complete privacy to get your head down. Once you’ve figured all this out you can begin to crack on with work without becoming overwhelmed. 

2.    Say ‘so-long’ to social media
When I was writing my most recent assignments I deleted all social media apps from my phone. Everyone knows social media can be a hamper to productivity but I didn’t realise just how much time I was spending every day mindlessly scrolling until I deleted the apps and saw my screen time plummet. I didn’t have to delete my accounts completely, I just deleted them from my phone but even this made a huge difference as scrolling on a phone is so much more addictive than on a desktop. 

3.    Ditch the tech
Along similar lines to the previous tip, leave the phone itself in a different room. Even without social media apps I could still manage to find a way of getting distracted checking my emails or whatever else. I left my phone in the kitchen while I was working in my room, and I have to say that out of sight out of mind really did the trick in this case. If you’re still getting distracted on your computer then you could try turning off the Wi-Fi if it’s okay with the rest of your household, otherwise you could have someone change the Wi-Fi password so you can’t log on until you’ve done some work. 

4.    Set measurable deadlines & hold yourself accountable
I always find that time runs away with me when I’m studying or writing essays, especially during vacation periods when the long days blend into one another. In order to make sure I’m getting stuff done and not letting procrastination take over my life I try to set measurable deadlines that I can hold myself accountable to. For example I might say ‘I want to write 500 words today’. This breaks the work into smaller more manageable chunks. You might need to work in blocks of time to get into the swing of things, e.g. half an hour and carry on if you’re making progress. Just make sure to reward yourself with breaks when you reach your targets to maintain morale and avoid burnout.

5.    Little and often 
Now I don’t mean taking a break every five minutes, what I mean is, if you have a deadline in 2 weeks you should be working on the assignment for a couple of hours every day over a prolonged period of time. Not all in one go the night before. Leaving work to the last minute is far from ideal, mistakes can easily slip through the net when you’re working up until the last moment, especially if you don’t leave enough time to review your work. Studying regularly keeps the work fresh in your mind and makes it easier to come back to when you need to. I find this to be a really useful method of re-assessing and improving work as a fresh pair of eyes the next day can be the key to making your work better. 

I hope you’ll find some of these tips helpful but please keep in mind that what works for others may not work for you, you may need to play around with different systems until you find the right one. However hard or pointless it may seem at times (I know, I’ve been there) putting your efforts into studying is absolutely worth it in the end. Give these last few months of the academic year everything you’ve got because you’ll never regret working hard.

1 comment

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