As a busy working adult, getting the most out your study efforts is imperative. With limited time for study, becoming a productive student is one of the best things you can strive for. Benefits include increased productivity, increased retention as well as more time for other activities. If this sounds like something that you would like to achieve, read on to learn of the seven golden rules for effective studying.
1. Choose the time and place wisely
Working with your preferences is very important for the success of your study efforts. Choosing a location which suits your needs is the first step; a quiet, well lit area where you won’t be disturbed is usually the best option. In saying that, some people prefer to have a bit of background noise when they work, so locations such as a coffee shop may work for you. It is also important to work with the times in which you retain the most information. If you consider yourself a morning person then getting up early before work may be the best time for you to study. On the other hand, those who don’t switch off until quite late at night may prefer to study later in the evening. If you are unsure which times and locations work for you, try a study session in different environments, and then analyse which you found to be the most productive. Every student will have different preferences and it is in your best interest to cater to them.
2. Don’t rush your work
Despite having limited time to study, it is important to take care in the work that you produce. Rushing your study time will result in less retention of key information, increased errors in written work, and a less productive study session. When you choose a time to study, you should try to schedule it around a time when you have few additional commitments. If you have something else to achieve shortly after your study, it is likely that your mind will remain focused on the next task and you will rush through your work.
3. Handwrite your notes
Although it is a more time consuming process in comparison to note taking on a computer, the act of handwriting your notes will benefit you more than you think. When you write with your own handwriting, the brain is more likely to memorise key words and concepts. A recent study in the Journal of Psychological Science discussed in an article on Medical Daily highlighted that “using a pen and paper to take notes boosts memory and the ability to retain and understand concepts”. It is also useful to use different colours and highlighters to group common themes together. This allows the brain to connect the colours and key points together.
4. Stick to your goals
When you first begin your degree, you should set some goals which you would like to achieve each week and for each subject. These should include study time you expect from yourself each week. A recommended method for the busy working adult is to schedule study time as if it were a meeting. You must consider this meeting as one which you cannot skip or reschedule, just like in the workplace. For example, if you have scheduled your study time from 7 pm – 9 pm and your friend invites you to dinner, you must learn to work around that already scheduled meeting. If you make a promise to stick to your goals and study in the designated time slots, you will reap the benefits.
5. Test yourself
During the course of each subject, write down key points and questions that you believe could be exam questions. When you get to the end of that subject, you will then have a whole range of questions to learn for the upcoming exam. Ask a family member or a friend to test you on the questions, and after several repetitions you will be surprised how much you remember. It is also important that you say your answers out loud – this is because the brain will remember the sound of how you pronounced certain answers, and will be easier to recall on the day of the exam.
6. Reward yourself
For every hour of study, it is beneficial to reward yourself with a five minute break. A short study break each hour allows your brain to rest and your mind to refocus. It is a good time to grab a snack, a cup of tea, or even go for a short walk around your study environment. When you return from the break, you should be refreshed and as a result you will process information more efficiently.
7. Remember to keep healthy
Although time is scarce, it is very important to keep healthy and balanced. Without proper health, the time that you spend studying will be less effective. Health does not only mean avoiding sickness such as the flu, it also refers to mental health. You must find what it is that helps you relax, such as exercising or reading, and ensure you regularly engage in this activity. A healthy mind leads to a healthy body, and with that health comes more focussed and effective study sessions.
What do you think?
Do you have any tips for students that you can add to the list? I would love to hear which advice you consider to be the golden rules for effective studying! Please feel free to share them below and join the AIB community. This article was written by Laura Hutton on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB. The following sources have been used to prepare this article:Psych Central and Medical Daily.
*The Australian Institute of Business (AIB) is Australia’s largest provider of MBAs. Source Ready, B. (2023) Domestic Enrolments Surged During COVID After International Students Locked Out, MBA News. Available at: MBA News.