As a student the most common habit is studying so hard for an exam thinking you aced it only to realize you didn’t do as well as you would have hoped. But what went wrong? You studied for hours and studied the hardest you ever did before. Most likely the problem was you didn’t study smarter. Studying smarter not harder is a quote to live by, especially as a student. The number one study habit that students do is re-read their notes from class or re-read the textbook over, and over, and over again. Unfortunately, this isn’t really studying. In fact, it’s just memorizing and not really learning any of the material. This leads into some serious problems as you progress in your studies because if you just memorize material from the beginning you wont be able to build upon the concept when you learn the next steps later on in the semester.
There are a few things to keep in mind when using the method of study smarter not harder. These include; reading is not studying, space out your studying and become a teacher. Forming new study habits does not happen over night, but with practice and determination the concept of studying smarter not harder is an easy goal to reach and one that will save you time.
1. Reading is NOT Studying
Simply reading and re-reading texts or notes is not actively engaging in the material. It is simply re-reading your notes. Only ‘doing’ the readings for class is not studying. It is simply doing the reading for class. Re-reading leads to quick forgetting. Learning information requires active engaging in the material. Active engagement is the process of constructing meaning from the text that involves making connections to lectures, forming examples and regulating your own learning.
2. Space out your Studying
Research shows that it’s a bad idea to cram all your studying into the day before that big test. Instead, space out your study time into 45-minute study sessions. These 45-minute study sessions should happen at least once a day a week to 2 weeks before that big test. Better yet, if you can do two 45-minutes sessions a day for those 2 weeks, your results would be even greater.
3. Become a Teacher
Try to explain the material in your own words, as if you are the teacher. You can do this in a study group, with a study partner, or on your own. Saying the material aloud will point out where you are confused and need more information and will help you retain the information. As you are explaining the material, use examples and make connections between concepts (just as a teacher does). It is okay (even encouraged) to do this with your notes in your hands. At first you may need to rely on your notes to explain the material, but eventually you’ll be able to teach it without your notes.
Studying smarter not harder is proven to work. Finding the right methods that work for you is key to discover. Not all students study the same and some methods may work better for others. With the proper mind-set, resources and motivation studying smarter not harder will become an easy habit to fall into.
“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
– Albert Einstein