How to study effectively – The art of study

One of the characteristics of successful students is that they know the art of study. Students appear in various exams where they are assessed based on learning they have acquired through studying certain books. This means that students should have the correct approach towards the style of study that enables them to acquire learning from books adequately and to ultimately help them score well in their exams. The purpose of study may not be always to prepare for an exam, but it is surely always to gain effective learning and understanding of what you study.

Some important aspects of the effective study are as follows.

   Willingness to learn

Willingness to learn is indispensable for productive study. The first thing that a productive study requires is your desire to learn. Being a student, you should develop an interest in your study. This is the first step towards effective study. If you do not have a love for your study, you can never study effectively even if you have learnt thousand good tips for study. Study is an activity that requires full attention and concentration. When you have the thirst for learning, you will naturally pay full attention to and fully concentrate on what you study. If you do not have that inner desire for study, it is generally difficult to pay attention to and concentrate on the content while studying it.

Some students take their study for granted. Others may view their study as a burden on them, and thus, they only study due to the fear of failing in an exam. When you view your study as a burden on you and study simply to pass an exam, you may pass the exam with average marks, but you never benefit much from your study. However, the students, who love their study, always get the highest marks in their exam, but the important thing is that they gain real learning because they do not take study as a burden on them but as an enjoyable activity to learn.

Every student has certain activities such as playing games, watching movies, listening to music, using social media websites and so on. It is important to have a balanced approach to all the activities in life. However, these activities may sometimes act as distractors for students to divert them from their study. This is where the importance of desire to learn comes into play because it enables you to sacrifice some of these activities for your study when needed. It enables you to sit for hours to study your books. It instills in you a sense of responsibility towards your study.

  Understanding the aim of reading

The second thing a student should understand is the aim of reading. Reading does not only mean uttering the words of a sentence of a paragraph and running on them. Every sentence of a book has an important piece of information. The aim of reading is to gain that information from sentence while reading them. Simply uttering the words of a sentence and not grasping the idea contained within each sentence has no advantage. These sentences are not written without a purpose. The author of these sentences wants to convey some idea or information purposefully. This means that students should read each sentence with attention so that they can gain the real learning. This is called learning things conceptually which is the aim of effective study.

You should always read the paragraphs very carefully. If you do not get the idea by reading a sentence once, do not skip it, re-read it and read it many times until you are able to pick what is said in the sentence. Take a highlighter to highlight some sentences with the most important pieces of information. You may also use a pen to write down some important ideas on a separate page while reading the paragraph. Most students use this tip because they think when they write down important ideas on a separate paper while reading the paragraphs of a book, it helps them understand the content of paragraphs very easily. In the beginning, when you start to read this way, you may a weak picking power but with the passage of time, it would become your habit, and you would develop a good picking power. This shift from reading purposelessly to reading purposefully is essential for effective learning.

  Studying with concentration and attention

As noted earlier, concentration and attention are important factors of productive study. While you study you should be fully attentive and concentrated on what you study. Your mind should free from all other irrelevant thoughts while you study. For instance, you should not be thinking about the movie you watched last night or a party you going to attend the next day. Similarly, if you have distractors around you that divert your attention from the study, it is better to remove them first. For instance, you are hearing a sound coming from a television played in the adjacent room, better go and turn it off so you can read your study-content with full attention. Likewise, switch off your mobile phone if you are getting notifications and messages on them constantly during your study.

Some other tips for good concentration power are to have full sleep every night; to eat healthily; to go on a walk for at least 30 minutes daily, and to take short breaks during study rather than siting for study for long hours. Some people also find studying always at the same place good for concentration, such as your designated study desk at your university.

  Generating questions in your mind

When you study a paragraph effectively, your mind naturally generates certain questions. This is characteristic of brilliant students that they raise questions about what they learn because they know how to do study in the best way. When you read something and your mind does not generate any question there is some possibility that you have not learnt it in real because there is always some room for uncertainty which is cleared by the questions being raised about them. If your mind does not generate any question, this means you have simply accepted, what was written, as it is. Every topic must not have grounds for raising questions, but you should think about different aspects of what you read. If you do so, it is likely to provoke your mind to raise some questions about what you study. This is important because this way you learn a thing in its entirety and gain confidence in what you learn.

  Few things may need to be memorized

While conceptual learning is important, a few things may also need to be retained in your mind when you learn them. In other words, some things simply need to be memorized. Remember, by memorizing I never mean ‘cramming’ which a wrong approach to learning. However, several things do need to be memorized such as scientific formulas, particular terminologies, names of specific stages involved in a scientific process and so on. They are generally parts of big topics. When you learn these big topics conceptually, you need to retain in your mind these specific terminologies, formulas, and the names of stages of a process. Without retaining them in mind, you may not be able to have complete learning the big topic. You have no option other than memorizing them.

For instance, you study a process in your science subject where different stages are involved. These stages have been given specific names. When you learn the process completely, you also need to retain the names of these stages involved in the process.

  Discuss your study topics with others

Discussing what you have studied with others helps you learn with perfection. When you study something, you should narrate it to someone (e.g., your classmate, friend or family member). It may not be necessarily a two-way discussion, but you simply tell someone, what you have learnt, in a friendly way. It can be like telling a story to someone or like making someone learn what you have learnt. Make this your habit because it helps you a lot. While we are discussing, what we have learnt, with others, our brain is processing the information in a way that helps in strengthening the learning and retaining it in brain for longer. This is because the learning becomes a two-stage process, first to learn by studying something and then to learn it further by discussing it.

Similarly, group discussion by students is very helpful where every student shares his learning. This helps in learning those areas which a student might have not understood or skipped while studying a topic himself. This helps generate many mind-provoking questions which helps in learning a topic conceptually and in its entirety. Similarly, these are purposeful group discussion where every student has to study a topic so that they can talk on it in front of other students. Have this thing in mind that you have to talk on it in front of other students, you intentionally focus more on various areas of what you are studying so that you can reproduce them in front of other students. This again helps you take your style of learning seriously.