There are plenty of really good study advises out there; ranging from structuring your study session, to how to take good notes.
I'm pretty sure you've heard a lot of that already (if you haven't, look them up! Here's one on how to remember quotes), so for this article I'd like to share 3 highly unconventional study tips that will bring your study game to a whole new level. I hope you're ready!
1) Learn Psychology
Psychology is the study of how the human mind works, and learning psychology can be really beneficial to help studying better for two main reasons.
For one, learning psychology will help in understanding how our own mind work; like why do we get anxious or what's the difference between an introvert and extrovert. Doing so will help us better manage our own lives, and how to overcome the pitfalls of our own minds.
For instance learning and understanding about procrastination will help cope us with it better. Put simply, procrastination is caused by the rational and emotional side of the mind in conflict with each other. The rational mind wants to get things done, while the emotional mind wants to rest. Hence procrastination can be a sign of either tiredness or laziness, so determining which is which can help determine the best course of action.
Secondly, there is an area in psychology called educational psychology (with a very large overlap with cognitive psychology) which studies on how we learn. Learning even though is a highly complex psychological process not fully understood even today, psychology has much to say about it and understanding how to mind learns can help us fine-tune our own learning to make it more effective.
For instance, humans can only concentrate for a small period of time. Studies have found that humans can pay full attention for about 20-30 minutes, also known as the attention span. Beyond that it's hard to pay attention and absorb information as our minds will stray away. Knowing this, one can design the study time to go something like study for 30 minutes, then take a short break, then resume studying to maintain focus.
Admittedly psychology is very broad area of study, such as behavioural, clinical, educational psychology to name a few that each study it's own niche areas.
In order to benefit the most from learning psychology, you don't need to learn everything; such Freudian psychology on how the super-ego and our childhood trauma affects us etc. You can cherry pick and focus on the more useful and relevant aspects.
Like to learn better? Simply look into educational and cognitive psychology. Want to cope with depression? There are plenty of psychological books on that. Want to learn more about happiness and excellence? Check out positive psychology.
Here are a few recommended books on psychology that will help immensely with improving your study skills and productivity:
2) Exercise Regularly
Let's face it, nerds and exercise don't get along. Whenever someone mentions 'nerd', you'll probably picture a scrawny little guy with thick glasses that probably can't run a single kilometre (let's save the issue of social ineptness for other times).
Unfortunately exercising is often overlooked, especially in times when the demands of school work increase, usually the last thing we have in mind is to get out there and do some exercise. As a nerd, exercising sometimes feels like time wasted as the time can be better spent reading a book.
However that is far from the truth. Exercising has numerous benefits and can help us study better. Some of the benefits are:
To me, I incorporate some light exercising into my study regime. I see exercise as a vital part in studying. Usually I have a short session in the gym and go for a walk plus some running.
When it comes to exercising, it's important to do it regularly and consistently to see the benefits, which is why exercising should be kept sustainable. Dedicating a bit of time everyday exercising will go a long way to improve our health, well-being and effectiveness in studying.
Of course staying motivated to keep exercising regularly is no easy task. Here are a few tips to help with motivation:
3) Go Beyond the Syllabus
In the book "10 Minute Mental Toughness" by Jason Selk, Selk explains that in order for athletes to achieve the best they can, he encourages athletes to abide by something called the MP100 + 20 rule, which to put it simply, do 100% of what the coach requires you to do, and 20% take your own initiative and train more on your own accord.
The same idea applies to studying too, to achieve excellence in schoolwork, it really helps to go beyond the prescribed syllabus and learn a bit more than expected.
One thing I find common in high achieving students is that they are willing and enjoy to go the extra mile, and learn more things than taught in school.
Very often students constrict themselves to stick to the syllabus, asking questions like "Is this coming out in the exam?" or "Do I need to learn this?". Instead of wasting energy worrying about what's on the syllabus, why not instead learn a little extra? It's always better to learn more than to learn less.
Learning beyond the syllabus will help in studying for the following three reasons:
Also visiting a library and bookstore and checking out nonfiction books can be a great way to learn outside the syllabus!
So these are 3 unconventional study tips that by incorporating them into your study regime and putting them into practice, I can guarantee that you'll see massive improvement!