The Ultimate Guide to Studying Smarter (5 Step Guide to Dominating School)
While everyone else is trying to hide success tactics behind a paywall, I’m here to show you some great techniques to study smarter, not harder.
Let’s paint a scene. Right now, term 1, most students have it pretty easy. But as any kid knows, the stress of assignments and tests in only around the corner. So the first tip is:
1. Plan and Practice your study when you aren’t under pressure.
The number of students that try to tell me that they “work better under pressure” is astounding. I’m no saint myself as I also did this at one point. The problem is that while this might work up until grade 10, when the quality and quantity of the work you need to produce becomes exponentially higher, last-minute work just doesn’t cut it. This leads me on to my next tip:
2. Space your study over weeks, not hours.
Procrastination is real, and everyone has does it to some degree, but just like junk food – too much can ruin you. If you’ve ever had to learn something for a test, but then later forgotten everything to do with what you just tested on, you’ve been a victim of procrastination. Spacing your learning over the term has 2 effects. The first is that the more ‘in control’ you are of your life, the less stress you will deal with. The second is that you solidify information much more effectively over long periods of time. Just like training your muscles for 20 hours straight won’t produce the same result as 20, 1-hour sessions – the brain needs time to adapt and recover.
3. Pomodoro your study
Pomodoro is a technique where you trick the brain into accepting studying. Grab your phone, go to your timer and set the time for 20-30min. Study for that time and when you’re done, set a 10min timer to do what you want. Rinse and repeat however often you want. Sounds simple right?
It is really that simple and probably one of the easiest changes to make to your study that has genuine impacts. I’ll explain why this works. The reality is the brain is lazy, it doesn’t like doing things that take effort. Saying “I’m just going to sit down and complete a couple paragraphs of my Shakespeare essay” doesn’t tell the brain what it’s signing up for. It might take hours to complete that work, so the brain just says “nope.” By contrast, telling the brain “let’s just work on Shakespeare for 30min” is much more definitive. The brain knows exactly what 30 minutes are, and is, therefore, more willing to not be lazy. This is honestly way more effective than you would think for how easy it is to use.
4.Try to teach others
If you have ever heard of how great Finland is doing in testing, it is partly because of this technique. I ask that during your study if you can try and teach a friend or a family member what you’re studying something very interesting happens…
You realise you suck at it.
This is good because you discover exactly what you do and don’t know about the content. When you’ve found what you don’t know – study that and leave the things you already know to study less often.
*Hot tip* Become a tutor, your whole job is realising what you don’t know and learning very quickly to compensate.
5. Take accountability and own it
I fundamentally believe people can change if they want to and put in the effort. I have seen it a thousand times. You get a mark back that you aren’t happy with because you procrastinated. You assure yourself that you’ll start studying earlier next time. You think next time will be different…
But it isn’t.
Because you weren’t really making the change you needed to make, you were trying to make yourself feel good without having to put in the real god damn work.
Here’s the reality, no amount of fantastic study techniques, or motivation, or family support is going to change your life until you take action and do it yourself. You need to audit yourself and ask what it is you want to accomplish. If the answer involves success in school, map your behavior and just start studying.
If you want to change your outcomes, change your habits.
It’s literally that simple.