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Studying Smarter to Learn Faster: 10 Proven Ways for Students

Author | July 06, 2021

You may have heard the adage, ‘Work smarter, not harder’. The corporate world swears by it. But guess what? You can apply this to studying as well! Study smarter, not harder’ is a mantra that you should follow to get the most out of your study schedule. Not only would you be able to complete your assignments on time, but you’ll see a noticeable boost in your conceptual understanding. Exam anxiety will become a thing of the past, with you acing those tests! But how can one study smart? Which learning techniques will optimise study time efficiently? This article answers these questions and lists 10 easy-to-apply tips for students of all ages.

10 Proven ways to study faster and learn smarter

#1. Set study goals.

Planning your studies for the week or month is extremely crucial. It will help you decide how much time you should invest studying different subjects. First, check if you have any internal tests or exams scheduled. Keeping the exam dates in mind, maintain a study planner that lists the names of the subjects and chapters that you need to revise each day of the week. Don’t forget to set time aside for homework, projects and assignments. Mark the submission date for these using a different colour.

These days, there are great tools out there to help you quickly make a study plan. Tata Studi’s Adaptive Studi Planner is one such tool. Just select your portion and the date by which you need to complete your studies. You can even flag topics that need extra practice. In just a few taps, you will get a personalised study plan.

#2. Learn the same topic from different sources.

Learning is more effective when you involve as many different senses as possible. You are more likely to understand and retain information. Depending on the topic, you could apply a combination of two or more of the following strategies:

  • Read from your textbook and refer to other reliable sources.
  • Watch short videos on the topic.
  • Take quizzes to test your understanding.
  • Write down what you have understood. It could be a short paragraph, a mind map or even a simple list of points.

#3. Make your own notes.

Keep a notebook handy where you write down notes on the topic you are studying. It is important that you write notes in your own words, retaining only key terms and phrases from your textbook. This will help you check your understanding. Even when you refer to readymade notes, you should engage with the material by marking the important parts.

#4. Revise the same topic more than once.

Sometimes, the biggest challenge is remembering what you have learnt. Here, a method called ‘spaced practice’ can help. Typically, we try to recall what we have learnt immediately after we learn it. While this certainly has its advantages, it is not enough. To be able to form connections between ideas and concepts, and recall information at a later date, the brain has to encounter the material repeatedly over a period of time. So, you need to revise a topic and test yourself on it at least two-three times. The Adaptive Studi Planner on Tata Studi factors in time for spaced practice and ensures that this happens.

#5. Avoid distraction.

Distraction is a major concern for young learners. Try to keep a single-minded focus on the task at hand – studying. Don’t reply to texts, watch entertainment videos or scroll through social media. Instead, follow these simple steps to improve concentration:

  • Mute phone notifications.
  • Close all internet browser windows that aren’t related to your assignments.
  • Follow up on your study plan.

#6. Focus on the process.

If your aim is to score 85% in the next science test, you are focusing on the results and not on the process. However, by setting learning goals you shift the focus from merely chasing a desired outcome to the study process. Doing three geometry problems and revising two science concepts every day, for instance, is a solid learning goal. Focussing on the process makes learning a more engaging task, and more often than not, yields good results too.

#7. Join the dots.

When you can connect new topics with the concepts you already know, you will speed up your learning process. For example, learning to differentiate between white and red blood cells can give students a tough time. One way to remember this would be to visualise white blood cells as soldiers defending our body against the enemy (diseases) and red blood cells as a transporter of essential services (oxygen). The Big Idea videos in Tata Studi give you the big picture of any topic, allowing you to make such connections and understand the real-life relevance of any concept.

#8. Use flashcards for quick revision.

A trusted technique to help memorise new words, definitions and other similar information is the humble old flashcard. Flashcards are a flexible learning tool helpful for students from all age groups. Jot down important points on flashcards and use them for spaced practice.

#9. Test yourself.

A time-tested method of reinforcing your learning are practice tests! These will help you identify knowledge gaps in your learning which need more attention. Regularly incorporate tests into your study schedule. The Adaptive Studi Planner schedules a test once all topics in a chapter are completed.

Another way of testing your understanding is teaching what you have learnt. Once you are done learning a concept, catch hold of your parents, siblings or friends, and explain it to them.

#10. Don’t forget to take breaks.

Lastly, don’t neglect your health while studying. Eat healthy and get a good night’s sleep. Schedule some activity every day to keep fit. Regular breaks help relieve burnout and improve focus. If you are stuck on a topic, go for a small walk and get back to work.

Learning is so much more than just getting good grades. Focus on blending these tips into your learning routine and see the difference.