Beat the sleep - 10 study tricks to boost your grades

When I study, sleep creeps up on me like a ninja. Sleep creeps up on my desk, in my room, even on the page in front of me. It grabs me by the neck, pushes me back and forth and screams at me to sleep as I fight it off by washing my face. Alas, I look in the mirror and there it is again… sleep.

But sleep, and any other distraction shall not prevail. We will get this studying thing done, and here's how we're gonna do it:

1. Find a study space

It is important for you to pick a good study spot where you have a nice chair (not too comfortable) and preferably a table to read on. Ensure that this spot is only used for productivity, so as soon as your body goes to the area your brain subconsciously thinks it's work time. Studying in bed, which I tend to do a lot, is a terrible place. Being too comfortable will lead to you falling asleep very easily.

2. Study every day

It is better to study for a short space of time every day(or for a few days per week) instead of binge-reading nearer to an exam. If you feel demotivated set small goals at first. Tell yourself you're going to read one paragraph, and if you get over that paragraph see if you can try another, then another, until it adds up.

3. Take breaks

Studies have shown that your attention span weakens after around 45 minutes, and it varies for everyone. Try the technique where you study for a small space of time, say 25 minutes for example, then break for five minutes and study for another 25. Repeat the cycle until you study for three 25 minute periods and then take 10 minutes to do a quick personal summary of what you studied, then take a much longer break before you resume, if you plan to resume.

4. Ask for help

If you just can't study alone, study with a friend or two. Go on a call, just make sure you study for periods then allow yourselves to talk during breaks so you don't have random outbursts that could lead to time-wasting. Try not to have study groups over three people in size, productivity may get much less as the numbers increase.

5. Stay motivated

Fill your study space or room with a vision board, quotes or other small things. You can even put some of your goals as pictures on your phone so every time you open it up your wallpaper reminds you of what you want to achieve. Studying isn't easy, so you have to do what you need to ensure you can keep going.

6. Practice exam-style procedures

Remember that a lot of your grade may be contributed by exams. Try to make exam-style questions for yourself after reading a certain topic. When you get enough questions you can even remake a full exam paper and time yourself. Timed practice is of utmost importance too. It is one thing to know something but another to apply it, and apply it fast enough.

7. Explain things to others

Don't be stingy with your knowledge. Ask your friends questions and let them ask you questions too. Chances are if you can explain it well to them, then you would have had a good grasp of the material.

8. Eat brain snacks

Snacks like bananas, chocolate, and other brain foods are important for reducing your stress levels while studying but in a healthy way. Don't allow yourself to overeat though, make sure you set out the snacks and the quantity you will eat before studying to avoid this.

9. Be prepared

Before you even start studying, be sure to check your syllabus so you know exactly what you need to study so you can avoid excessive topics. Also, ensure you gather all the tools you need before the study period so you don't waste productivity time. Even though you want to be specific to what's on the syllabus, don't be afraid to read other sources for a little extra info as long as it relates to the topic at hand. Don't be afraid to mix up subjects a little and read a bit of physics here and business there while making connections between their theories.

10. Know what works for you

Some of us are visual learners while some of us learn better being lectured to. Some of us may even want to draw, sing, or rap what they learn. Know what works for you by experimenting early on in the year (please don't experiment close to exam time). Find out what works for you. I like watching YouTube videos with nice imagery after reading a topic. Knowing yourself is important!

--Fabrizio Darby



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