I want to tell you some of my tips that allowed me to study for under an hour and still ace my tests.
Okay, so you must be thinking by this point that I am either a genius or have a photographic memory. I assure you that neither of these are true, I’m just a normal guy; what sets me apart is just reorganizing some of the ways that you already study to be more efficient.
There is also a reason why I didn’t publish this around finals (but it is probably midterms for most people) and that is because I WANT YOU TO START RIGHT NOW. The only way this works is if you are diligent and start doing everything right now. Cramming doesn’t work. Period.
Of course this was coming. I am a fitness freak. Look at every successful person and analyze their fitness habits. Richard Branson pumps out four hours of productivity a day by working out.
Check out that image below.
Yeah, that is your brain. Sitting down puts the brain into a state of nothingness, and when you become active, your brain is ready. Why is this? Going back to our roots, when we had to hunt our own food, it was kill or be killed. Our bodies became active and our brain was running at 100%. Your brain fully activates when you are active, whereas when you sit down, your brain shuts itself off to save energy. The brain accounts for about 20% of our energy, but it only takes up about 4% of the mass of our bodies. This basically means that the brain is a vampire for energy, and that whenever we don’t need its full power, turn it down!
As for exercising, I always recommend morning workouts to start the day, and be sure to workout just before your test!
Okay, I know, I know… this is so basic, but water is such a necessity and people still don’t drink enough! I don’t even bother tracking how much water I drink, I just check my urine and ensure that it is completely clear. Trust me, this is HUGE.
UTILIZE THE LAST 30 MINUTES BEFORE YOU SLEEP
Don’t get more sleep or less sleep, but keep your sleep completely constant. I put sleep as a main point because almost everyone I know pulls all nighters to study like crazy. This is not effective. Your body needs a schedule, and when you’re throwing it out of its natural schedule you are doing more harm than good.
I suggest creating a natural sleep time and wake up time. The way that I do this is by using Sleep Cycle to track and analyze my sleep. I typically go to bed at 10:30 PM and wake up at 5:30 AM, getting a solid 7 hours of sleep a night.
WAIT. Before I bore you to death on your sleeping habits, I want to leave you with one more point. Instead of getting into bed at 10:00 PM, going on your phone for 30 minutes, and falling asleep at 10:30 PM, use this final 30 minutes to be productive. This is the most important part before you fall asleep. Go over your notes from the day from each of your classes, or at least read a book. This gets your brain mentally prepared to crunch down what you’ve learned that day, even if it was something extremely complex. Before every one of my tests, I did complex problems or even read my textbook (mind you I was learning stuff that actually didn’t make sense) and it was extremely fuzzy, but I pushed myself to visualize the problem and understand how it worked out. Next I turned off my lights and recalled everything I just went through, and slowly fell asleep. The next morning I wake up, understanding everything I didn’t the night before.
This is by far one of the most powerful habits that I created, and I retained far more knowledge compared to cramming.
HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF NOTE-TAKING
I absolutely hate note-taking, that is because I am more of a visual learner. First, figure out what type of learner you are and try different styles of learning; you won’t know until you try.
The best way I found I learned was to have a notebook on my desk, taking the most important notes that were beneficial, and my smartphone next to me recording the entire lecture. When I wasn’t in engineering or science classes, I took notes on my computer and recorded the lecture at the same time. I used this one program called AudioNote, and it saved my life since most of my teachers spoke so quickly, and I tried to visualize what they were saying.
Now, since I didn’t have the entire lecture notes, I was sure to take pictures and/or scans of my friends notes who wrote EVERYTHING. In exchange for them giving me their notes, I taught them whenever they needed help. Oh wait, whats the best way to learn? TO TEACH. Even though I was helping them learn the material, I was solidifying my knowledge by teaching them. I could explain something high-level in a simple way by relating it to simple concepts in the world.
So let’s recap a little.
- Took basic notes, but mostly visualized the lecture
- Used AudioNote to capture the professor speaking
- Scanned my friends perfect notes
- Taught my friends anything that they needed help with
Finally, possibly the most helpful hint of them all. Review your (actually, your friends) notes after the class, and then again right before the next class. This is the most powerful way to learn the material in my opinion. By reviewing the material before and after the class, you will find out what you didn’t understand, sleep on it, and then come to the next class knowing that, that class will build upon the knowledge you just learned.
SUMMARY + EXTRAS
The best way to study is by creating habits. Habits are the only way that you will succeed in life, and you need to constantly build GOOD habits. Habits are hard though, and the only way that you can create them is through consistency.
- Exercise: I advise exercising every day in the morning for at least 1 hour. Sometimes if I have time I even go again later in the day to yoga or on a bike ride.
- Drink Water: water is my favorite drink, and I always have my water bottle handy, whether it be the gym or my office. I use this insulate one by , expensive, but so worth it.
- Utilize Your Sleep: set a constant sleep schedule and stick to it… even on the weekends.
- Note-Taking is Powerful: it is more than just taking notes, that is what you’re tested on, so you better know it inside and out.
I don’t want to bore you with my writing, so I’ll list a few more of my tips that I use. Feel free to comment, and I may add it to this list if it is actually helpful!
- De-stress: I have lots of secrets for this, but it is really based on the person
- Free Mind Space: just like memory on a computer, your mind can be freed of poor memory management
- Create “Office Hours”: just like a teacher, office hours establish certain times where you have to get stuff done
- To-Do List: I could go on and on about this, but it is all about preference. I use two applications for this. Wunderlist and iStudiezPro
- Create an Equation Sheet or a Study Guide: so simple, yet so powerful.
Now, if you actually follow and create these habits, you will barely even have to study. Typically for me, it was just a one-hour session. As always, please comment if you want to know more!