05 September, 2007

Studying smart: tips to make that “A” closer

I wrote this for a writing class in college, but I thought it could be useful enough for other students so here it is.

Studying smart: tips to make that “A” closer

With every new school year, students gear up and enter their schools or campuses with sheer determination. Aspiring to raise that GPA level or attain that A. Few, however, continue through out the semester with the same momentum.

Assignments, lectures, research and study, certainly takes a bite of your time. Add that to sleep, eating, personal hygiene and commuting, and we will be luck to have anything done at all.

Some students manage to do just that however, and they make it look easy to boot. Are they using alien technology or just super beings? No. Chances are they have picked up certain skills along the way. Things every student can learn from and actually do, like:

Time management
You know the saying: “failing to plan is planning to fail” and that is so true. Set aside 10 or 15 minutes a day and prepare what are you going to do that day, what will you study, and in what order. Assign what will you do throughout the day, attending classes, commuting, eating or going out. I’m not asking you to be a machine, just be aware of what you can or can’t do. You can use a normal paper diary, or even MS outlook. Most of the new mobile phones do have functions for calendar and tasks. Use them.

Do not skip classes
Skipping classes can be fun, but can also wreck havoc on your understanding. You see, on a subconscious level, the brain does not accept what it doesn’t understand and will reject attempts to cram it in.
Lets say that you have to study units 1, 2 & 3. You attended unit 1’s lecture, but skipped 2. When you attend the third lecture, chances are that some of the material in it is based on the past unit. If you do not know that by now, your subconscious brain has no point of reference, and shuts down all new material until this matter is solved. Try reading a story from halfway through. It is like that.

Study often
It is best to cement the new knowledge in. First of all for the reason stated above (by the way, if you do skip a class, study it as soon as possible), second of all, revising what was taught to you today while the information is still “hot” helps it to sink in. If you revise it at a later date, your brain has to remember it first which slows down the process.

College days may be about partying to some. Fine, just make sure you get enough sleep. Not getting enough shut eye means your brain is working at less than 100%. Do you want to comprehend macro economics at 40% of your brain? Didn’t think so.

This is a cliché, I hate clichés, but you know what they say about healthy brains and bodies. Aerobic exercise is a must for your academic achievements. Why? You will need less sleep and be more alert if you do regular aerobic exercises (like running). This will enhance the performance of your lungs and heart, eventually making your blood carry more oxygen than before while your heart pumps at a better more constant rate, which means your brain is fueled better and will become as agile as you! Try running or cycling for a minimum of 30 minutes 3 times a week. Body building is an-aerobic so you should couple that with an aerobic regime, also swimming may not be as beneficial as running as the water is carrying most of your weight, it will be good though to tone your body or if you have injuries.

Eating well
With less time and with approaching exams, we pile on the junk. Your body needs vitamins so give it fruit. It will also need fiber so get vegetables and bread. Try to ease on the sugar and get your energy from baked goods, complex carbs stay longer in your body, while simple sugars will make you hyper then deplete quickly, it will make you tiered and will mess up your insulin level, making some of us put on weight.

Eat fish. Fatty fish like Salmon are rich in Omega 3 oils. Our brain is mostly made up of Omega 3 oils, tests showed better memory retention, more class participation and even better handwriting. The gains are amazing. Fat in red meat is rich in saturated omega 6 fat, which isn’t what your brain needs. Eat fish and lots of it, if you hate fish, take fish oil capsules, they are odorless and you will not feel a thing. Olive oil is high in omega 3 so use it as salad dressing.

Nuro Linguistic Programming is a new science, but will work quite well. Find out if you are a visual person, an audio person or a kinetic person.
Visuals are usually loud, neat, love to be the centre of attention and look up when they are walking.
Audio persons have a moderate voice, get along well with most people, use hand gestures that look like piano playing figures when they talk and have a waddle when they walk.
Kinetic people are very quite and have a low voice volume. They have messy desks and walk while looking down.
This is a very limited description, you may want to Google that, but basically, once you know which type you are you can modify your study to your own style. Are you visual? Good, use charts and colored notes. Audio is your type? Read aloud to yourself and maybe record lectures and listen to them again on your ipod. Are you kinetic? Try to do or imagine some of the concepts you are learning.

These tips, when fused with good old fashioned determination, should get you there. Remember, if you are willing to use any or all of these tips, use them often, this will help make a habit of them and you will do them naturally later.

Don’t study hard, study smart!


ammaro.com said...

useful stuff, but, i dont wanna go back to studying anymore!

Redbelt said...

Some points are meant to kep you at optimum performance, don't want that either?

ammaro.com said...

thats why i said it was useful stuff!

Anonymous said...

Hi, thank you very much for this useful article! It is so inspiring :)