Student blog: 3 quick steps to improve your study habits

As one of our fabulous 2017 Student Ambassadors, Gustavo spent his year as an ambassador sharing his experience studying in Brisbane via his Instagram. Hailing from Salvador, Brazil, Gustavo considers himself a citizen of the world and loves the personality of Brisbane.

Gustavo Azevedo

He shares some tips to help improve your study habits for when assessment deadlines start to loom and you’re feeling the pressure.

Finding the motivation to close Netflix and open your textbooks can be tough, regardless of whether it’s week two or week 12. With that said, here are three quick tips to improve your study habits, to retain more information and ultimately achieve better results in your studies.

1. Identify your goals

Studying

Before you even open a book, it is important to first reflect on the outcome you are hoping to achieve and how you will achieve it.

A recent study performed at Stanford showed that students who took up to 15 minutes to reflect on their target grades and how to better use their resources to achieve it outperformed those that didn’t. The act of “thinking about thinking” – known as Metacognition – can be a very powerful tool to increase the effectiveness of any study habit. Check it out here.

2. Figure out what works best for you

Now that you have defined what your goals and resources are, it’s time to pick a study technique that works best for you.

Most importantly – find a study technique that works for you! If these two techniques don’t work for you, don’t give up! Try different things until you find a study technique or habit that helps you achieve the best results possible.

There are a number of proven techniques available that deal with memorisation, outlining, mnemonics, diagramming and self-testing but below are two examples that have proven to be quite effective:

For the procrastinator: the Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique is a time-management, spaced-repetition method targeted at tackling procrastination. It uses a timer to space studying sessions into intervals of 25 minutes of study followed by five minutes of break-time, which are repeated in a cycle until the targeted study goal is completed. The main objective is to reduce the impact of internal and external interruptions that jeopardise the study focus and its flow.

For the critical thinkers: the Feynman Technique

The Feynman Technique is a four-step technique which is also known as the “Great Explainer”. The main objective is to achieve a simple and concise understanding of the topic using analogies. This method encourages critical thinking and allows for complex concepts to be applied to real-world problems.

Step 1: Select the topic of study.
Step 2: Explain the chosen topic out loud using simple language to a peer who is unfamiliar to it.
Step 3: Identify gaps in your own understanding of the topic.
Step 4: Revisit and study those gaps until you can explain them using simple language.

All steps should be repeated until there are no more gaps.

3. Be productive!

Studying

Now comes the hard part: actually studying. Now that you have set your goals and have chosen an effective study technique, you should be able to get the most out of your study time. However, there is always room for improvement!

In the hopes of achieving increased productivity levels on your study retention rates and final results, try the 80/20 Pareto Rule. The rule theorises that 80 per cent of the effects – the study – come from 20 per cent of the causes – or in this case, the effort.

Finally, and probably most importantly, is sleep and down time. Elon Musk’s magic number is 6-6.5 hours of sleep a day, but most students would probably agree that a few hours more would be even better!

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