Aunt Agatha Advocates: Effective Studying Methods

Written by: Liew Yi Xuan (21-E1), Jervis Ch’ng Yun Ping (21-U5), Jolina Prisha Nair (21-E5)

Designed by: Jervis Ch’ng Yun Ping (21-U5)


Exam season is nearing with full steam ahead. It may seem daunting, but fret not as Aunt Agatha is here to share our tips and tricks! The key to studying is not how much you study, but rather how you study. Your study methods will set the stage for your ability to apply all you have learnt. Our job is to ensure that you fully utilise your resources and maximise your capabilities. Read on ahead to find out about some scientifically proven study methods. 

Effective study methods

One effective study method is the ‘Pomodoro’ technique. One of the more widely known and used time management techniques, the ‘Pomodoro’ technique can also be used for studying, and can be very effective. Using this technique, one breaks up their time into smaller timed units of 25 minutes, also known as “pomodoros”, with a 5 minute break in between each timed unit. After about three to four of these timed units, one then takes a longer break of about 15 to 20 minutes.

This method of studying is effective as it allows our brains to take a break, assimilating the new information and resting for the next round of studying (CNC, n.d), which in turn allows us to retain information better. This technique can help improve concentration and time management with enough practice.

Another effective studying technique to use is retrieval practice, also known as ‘Active Recall’. This involves actively trying to recall information and knowledge that you have learned in previous lessons and classes. The act of revisiting the information that we have previously learnt helps us retain and remember it better, and thus makes it effective in learning. One thing to note, however, is that it is not the same as repetition. Repetition is repeatedly reading information, while retrieval practice is forcing yourself to recall information that you have previously learnt. It helps shift information into your long term memory for you to access whenever needed.

Healthy study habits to have 

Here are the five most important study habits we recommend for more productive days ahead.

  1. Keep your phones away! 

This may seem to be a tough feat seeing as to how you would have to give up your source of entertainment, but trust us when we say it will be worth it in the long haul. A #protip is to switch off your phone or put it on silent mode, keeping it out of sight and out of mind so that there are no distractions in the way.

  1. Planning ahead

Make to-do lists for every study session you have and ensure that it is an achievable goal so you don’t overestimate yourself and end up not completing some tasks! Having this checklist by your side may incentivise you to complete the tasks in your list, providing a source of motivation for you to push on.

  1. Consistent study sessions

It is not only imperative that you plan ahead, it’s also just as important for you to create a consistent, daily study schedule. Doing the same thing at the same time on a daily basis will train your brain into treating this as a routine. Your body will work like clockwork, and this allows you to be more emotionally and mentally prepared for each session, leading to more productive days!

  1. Take a break, have a Kit Kat! (or a chit-chat)

It’s important to learn how to take small breaks in between so you don’t end up suffering from burnout. Make use of the aforementioned ‘Pomodoro’ method and take sufficient breaks, but make sure you don’t get sidetracked by your devices!

  1. Review and redo

After every study session, review what you’ve learned, and practise ‘Active Recall’. This would ensure you have internalised the information you need to know and test yourself on your retrieval abilities. Do this every session and build on the information you learn each time, drawing connections and links to the things you’ve learned, and you will build a ‘tree of knowledge’ (or ‘The Wisdom Tree’, as Elon Musk would describe it) that’s fully interconnected and filled with information you can retrieve anytime. 

Conclusion

Studying can either be a chore or a pleasure depending on how we choose to see it. The way we approach our studies will directly affect the benefits we reap from them. There are dozens of study methods that can be adopted but none are one size fits all. Thus, it is important that we allow ourselves to experiment and find out what fits us best. Always remember, it is never too late to start. Aunt Agatha wishes you a happy and productive study session!

Bibliography

  1. Study Efficiently Using the Pomodoro Technique. (n.d.). College of New Caledonia. Retrieved August 23, 2021, from https://cnc.bc.ca/services/prince-george/testing-tutoring/student-support-advice/pomodoro-technique 
  2. Loveless, B. (n.d.). Study Habits of Highly Effective Students. Education Corner. Retrieved August 23, 2021, from https://www.educationcorner.com/habits-of-successful-students.html

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