Everyone knows that if you want good grades, you should work hard. I don’t disagree with this, but I’ve seen many students working very hard and not getting the grades they want. Why? They’re spending too much time on irrelevant and unimportant things and expecting to be rewarded for it.
If you think you’re one of these students, don’t worry, it’s great that you’re spending heaps of time on studying- it teaches you to work hard, but now’s the time to start working hard on the important stuff. Here are some tips that will teach you to do just that and spend less time studying!
Only make one set of notes
I’ve heard that many students write one set of “class notes” and one set of “final notes”. Your notes may look prettier in the end, but it won’t teach you anything new. It now takes you double the time it should have to make notes. Just notes. No practice, no extra reading. Just notes. Then comes the extra reading and practice, and suddenly you’ve spent 20 hours on study that could’ve taken 8.
Instead of making two sets of notes, spend time on making one good set. You can even make them in class! Listen in class and then either
a) Make notes as the teacher is talking
b) Remember what the teacher says and then make notes at home
c) Pre-read the chapter, make notes on it before class and then fill in any extra information your teacher may add (probably the best option)
Listen in class
When you listen in class, you can skip reading large sections of your textbook because you already understand the content! You’ll also pick up on topics your teacher spends a lot of time on- they’ll be in that upcoming test. Some students struggle listening in class and learn more effectively by reading or doing. Find out which learning style works best for you and stick to it- but listening in class never hurt anyones grades!
Prioritise and organise
One of the biggest time guzzlers is spending time on tasks that really don’t require a lot of time, or aren’t even worth doing. Make a list of all the things you have to do, and prioritise them. Do them in order from most important to least important.
By doing this, you’ll quickly realise that some tasks at the bottom of your list are not even worth doing! Scrap them and focus on the most important tasks.
Only write essay plans
Ahhh essays. Frustrating. Boring. Time consuming. The first thing your English teacher will tell you when you ask how you can improve… “write practice essays and then have them marked”. Sounds great in theory right? Not so much when you sit down at your desk, have no idea where to start and have an emotional breakdown after approximately 20 minutes. Wonderful.
You can avoid the stress by only writing the plan for your essay. This will be much quicker and you can get your teacher to check more than just one full essay. Once you have made the best plan ever- then write ONE full essay and get feedback on it. Use this feedback to write plans for more essay questions. Voila! Suddenly you’ve done an essay plan for 4 questions in one hour instead of having one tear stained paper in 20 minutes!
Study when you can
Study in times you wouldn’t usually think to study or don’t usually study- on the train, on the bus, in free periods and pretty much any other time when you’ve got time. You’ll be surprised to see how much you can learn in these times! This will open up more free time in the time you would’ve spent studying!
For some students it can be difficult to study in these times because of distractions. If you find yourself getting distracted often, you can invest in some noise-canceling headphones. They can help keep you concentrated and help you spend less time studying in times when you could be doing something you actually enjoy! If you’re thinking about investing in some noise-canceling headphones and need some guidance, Reviews.com has a great guide to both in-ear and over-ear headphones that you can check out!
Practice questions are a blessing sent for students struggling with major I-don’t-have-time-to-learn-the-entire-syllabus- in-2-weeks syndrome. Seriously, practice papers will test your knowledge of topics in exactly the way your teachers/examiners want you to know it. You’ll get accustomed to the types of questions they ask and how they want you to answer them.
Do not underestimate the power of practice papers, but only do them if you have the answers to them as well- otherwise, don’t bother.