Somewhere in the world right now, a basketball player is spending 10 hours in the gym every week practicing without getting any better, while another player with the same abilities is spending half that amount of time while becoming twice as good. That’s because some ways of practicing are better than others. A player who works on his shot from the same spot on the court, for instance, won’t improve as much as a player who works on her shot from different spots on the court. Studying for exams is similar. Some study methods are more effective than others. Here are two common study pitfalls that hard-working students make, and how you can avoid them.
#1 Always Studying Alone- Study Pitfalls
Studying alone is typically a good idea and works for most people. But only ever studying alone has its downsides. You may prefer to hide in a corner of a library to go over your course material before a test without distraction. If so, good on you. But when you only ever study alone, you miss out on the help other people can provide.
Say you’re struggling with a math formula and, no matter how hard you work to figure it out on your own, it simply doesn’t make sense. You could spend another hour reading as much as you can about the formula and talking to yourself, which can actually be an effective study technique, or you could ask a peer who understands the formula and can explain it to you.
The difference, in this context, between a book in a peer is that, unlike a book, you can ask a peer a question and they can respond.
Asking a peer nowadays is, fortunately, easier than ever for students who can’t or would rather not study with people in person. Students who enroll in an online high school or students who prefer to study at home can simply use their laptops to ask their peers and teachers questions.
#2 Studying Too Much at Once
You have an important midterm coming up, and there’s a ton of material you need to cover. You take out all your notes and readings and scatter them across your desk and it looks as though you’re staring at a forest of papers. You’re definitely going to fail the test, you think.
Well, not if you pace yourself.
Rather than going through as much material as you can in one sitting, select some material to go through and set aside the rest of the material for later. Better yet, create a study schedule. Say you need to go over 40 pages worth of material and you have 5 days to do so. Study 10 pages per day and, on the final day before the test, go over the material. You’re more likely to process and remember the information when you nibble at it rather than take huge bits.
The Bottom Line
Some study methods are better than others and when you learn to use the best methods, you can study better while studying less.
And another great way to study better without spending as much time studying? Take breaks.