10 Tips to get into Achiever Students’ Category!
Can you imagine taking an average student and teach him/her how to learn with a proper road map, if walked on it persistently, will make him/her better student in school/college?
Yes it’s possible! This is the story of me. It’s about my transformation from an average student till high school to become one of the top students in my college. Most of us never realize the potential of mind’s ability. But if we find the way to use it, such miracles can happen.
Here I discuss some key study techniques to strengthen our cognitive skills and learn better, anything, at any stage of life!
I struggled a lot in study till my high school. Along with regular classes at school, my parents enrolled me into extra tuitions to get more teaching. But, just having more teaching sessions didn’t help me to understand and retain my learning in long term. So, obviously, I couldn’t score more. But when I joined first year of Jr college, it was a new environment and fresh start, I devised some tricks for studying the subjects. Those study hacks completely changed my life. I performed very well in physics, chemistry, mathematics and biology, even in languages. I did better not only in board but also in pre-engineering entrance exams which I was preparing.
I can surely say, these techniques are best for the preparation of any competitive exams.
Here are these –
1) The Approach - Learn to understand, not to only remember.
This sets your approach towards learning. We know, many of us seek only good percentage in final exams and for that we start mugging up everything we listen in class and read in books. But this is most wrong thing we do while learning.
Remember, good score is just the end outcome of good learning. Good score will follow you if you learned through understanding things. Remember, what ‘Rancho’ said in ‘3 idiots’. 🙂
So, while you are listening to your teacher in class or reading your subject books/notes, you should try to understand what different things mean. You try to understand those things and not just to remember only. How to understand? Well, to understand any concept, you just ask questions with WHY and HOW for that topic and try to get answers to them.
But, there is an elephant in the room! At start, you will find this difficult and exhausting. Many of us feel this hectic and leave this effort soon. But keep on doing this slowly and steadily, you will get comfortable and soon it will become your habit.
2) Time Management – not just for exam, but for whole academic session
Time management skill is an important asset for student. It’s a very first thing to be included in your study.
Unfortunately, many of us don’t pay much attention to it. We know, our academics is divided into different time durations, like classroom periods, periodic tests, semesters, semester exams, academic years until we face our final board/competitive exam. This all has their designated times and so it is highly important to plan our study according to these milestones.
You are targeting to score best in that final exam, so at first, you must set goals to learn more and more during this available time. Remember, apart from teaching classes, you have limited time to do self study. So, you should plan your study schedule with some efficient and effective activities. Efficient study activities means which gives maximum learning for least investment of time and effective means which gives you real and long lasting learning. What can be such activities? (Keep reading for further tips)
3) If possible, do non-repeated Reading
We all have tendency to re-read single notes, book chapter or any other study material repeatedly and multiple times. We somehow convinced that, by doing so, we are going learn it and fix it into our memory. But, this doesn’t help much and consumes lot of precious time. Its an inefficient and less effective technique of study.
Re-reading repeatedly from same source will give you only single perspective of that information. Instead of rereading from same source, you should invest your time reading or learning that topic from other sources, like other ref books/notes and specific online sources. So, you will gain more knowledge related to it with different perspectives. This will not just help you to deepen your understanding of that topic but it also broadens your understanding to apply it in other domains.
4) Practice – Open Ended Questions & MCQs
Remember the golden rule – “Practice makes man perfect”. Practice plays very important role in helping you remember and retain your learning for long term. Plus point is, it also enhances your understanding.
With fundamental understanding and consistent practice you can master anything.
Practice can be in the form of abstract or MCQs. Both kinds of practices are equally important.
- Abstract practice includes practicing content like definitions, laws, formulae, important key points, derivations, theorems or numerical. How to practice such information? You can formulate all this content in the form of open ended questions and try to formulate your own answers or explanation to them based on your learning. Crosscheck with correct answers, find gaps and correct it in next iteration of practice. Open ended questions encourage you to retrieve your understanding completely by your own.
Now, what’s the most effective way to do it? – Flashcards!
Flashcards are most useful way to practice. Flashcards can be a handy tool to read and recall your learning on the go. You can use it anywhere, anytime. So you can utilize your every precious bit of time.
We can also call it flip cards as we can write question on one side of card and solution/explanation on other side. You can create hundreds of such flashcards for different small information. Reading question on one side and recalling answer from your memory alone. The other side gives immediate verification of your thought by showing correct answer.
- MCQs Practice involves solving questions/numerical provided with multiple options with one or more correct choice. Multiple choice based question practice gives you boost to get aligned with real exam you are going to face. If the exam is based on MCQs then you must regularly practice them. For MCQs practice you can use any ref book or online platform. Using online mobile based app gives edge advantage, as it is handy tool you can use anywhere anytime. It can also provide instant solutions and can keep track of your improvement.
5) Spaced Repetition
Practice is important but random practice doesn’t give you desired results. You have to practice systematically and more important with repetition after suitable time intervals.
Opposite to it, many of us have habit of doing bulk study just few days or weeks before the main exam. Even some of us spend whole nights studying just before the exam but don’t study regularly during whole academic year. It is questionable that if this really helps to score more or barely it helps you to survive in the exam? However, one thing is observed in general that, we forget everything immediately after exam. Instead, doing regular spaced practice gives you more retain-ability of your knowledge.
One can have lots of flashcards and MCQs for practice, but you can not practice all of them at once or every card daily. So you have to divide them in smaller groups such that you will get to revisit those flashcards after suitable interval of time (when you are about to forget that info). In this way you have any large number of flash cards or questions, but practicing only few of them daily.
Switching is shifting between subjects or chapters while studying. Studying only one single chapter or subject for larger time interval, like continuously for few days will prevent you to gain ability to inter-relate the concepts across different phenomenon. Studying different things together, one after other will create better connection between these different memories in your brain. This helps you build correlations between different concepts.
7) Seeking Variety
You need to find varieties in the questions you are practicing. When you solve variety of questions on same topic/chapter, you build more versatile and broadened approach to solve questions. This helps you more when you attempt any new complex question for first time. You will be able to face such new questions with confidence. In other words, this reduces your fear of what questions are going to come in exam.
8) Mistakes are Good
Yes, you read it right. More you do mistakes while practicing questions, more you will get opportunity to understand and remember it. Concepts, for which you do mistakes and correct them, are registered more prominently in your memory as special events. Practice, do mistakes, correct them, again practice – this is the way to master anything.
9) Explain to Others
This is Feynman’s technique. This famous scientist said, “if you want to understand anything, learn it and try to explain it to any other person in simple words. Find the gaps, review it again and try to explain again”.
It’s like, if you can not explain it to others in simple words that means you haven’t understood it yet completely. If you don’t have anybody to explain, simply try to write it.
In this way you force yourself to the concept to a deeper level and simplify relationships and connection between concepts. If you struggle then you will have clear idea where you have gaps in understanding.
10) Mock Tests
You must attempt enough mock tests if you are preparing for certain exam. Mock test are exact exam pattern tests based on same syllabus, questions, marking scheme and time duration. Mock tests should be questions which are similar to questions being asked in that exam.
Basically, mock tests will be rehearsal of exam you are going to appear. Attempting mock tests will help to boost your confidence and to develop strategy face the paper. You can build question attempting strategy, time management during paper. (I will write, what are do’s and don’ts while attempting main exam paper in other article)
So, organizing your study including above techniques will make you learn robust and faster. This will lead you to get at top, not only exam but in life as well.