There are so many ways to study, so it will naturally take some time to see which one works best for you! In this blog, I will be going over methods that worked particularly well for me as well as other high-achievers.
Plan → Understand → Practice → Review Cycle
This method has worked incredibly well for everyone I know who has used it and should be the foundation of your study methods. It involves planning your study according to exam dates and materials to cover, learning and understanding the concept as soon as possible (through books, tutors, teachers, and research), extensively practicing these concepts through questions and mocks, and thoroughly reviewing any mistakes or areas of weakness. To improve on these areas of weakness, you simply repeat the cycle!
For more details about this method, please refer to the 99+ ATAR Study Guide.
I swore by this technique for almost all of college and still apply it to this day. It involves doing work in 25-minute intervals and taking 5 minute breaks in between. After four cycles, you take a longer break and treat yourself to some good quality rest! The length of each cycle can be adjusted according to your preferences.
To learn more about this technique, follow this link: https://todoist.com/productivity-methods/pomodoro-technique
I used the Focus To-Do app for my pomodoros.
Active Recall and Spaced Repetition
These techniques are best explained in the following links:
On a side-note, for anyone wanting to learn more about how to be productive and how to use Notion, I highly recommend Ali Abdaal’s youtube channel and blog!
This technique is used mainly for content heavy subjects such as Chemistry and Biology, and is incredibly helpful when needing to memorise or practice methods.
Taking Notes on Notion
Usually, I went over the slides and resources given by the teachers before class to gauge an understanding of the content – so I could then focus and ask questions about it in class instead of struggling to keep up with the fast paced teaching. When taking notes, I used the active recall technique to turn each note into a question on my Notion (an example of which you can see in my Notion pages for ANU Chemistry). For example, instead of writing “X is…”, I turned it into a toggle and wrote “What is X?” and then wrote the answer underneath the toggle. This helped with memorising a high volume of content and applying spaced repetition. For maths subjects, taking extensive notes aren’t recommended as practice is much more effective in building skill. For science subjects, however, using Notion combined with active recall and spaced repetition becomes a very powerful tool when it comes down to preparing for exams.
To learn more about what Notion is and how to use it, check out Ali Abdaal’s youtube channel! (no he did not sponsor us to say this… we wish!)
Make Summary Sheets
For more information about this, refer to the 99+ ATAR Comprehensive Study Guide
Develop a Strategy for each Question Type
To identify the question types for a subject, it takes doing a lot of practice questions! However, you can start off by looking at the unit outline and breaking it down into sections, which you practice individually and, in turn, end up developing relevant methods that work for you. As you are using active recall by doing practice questions, you don’t HAVE to write down your method – but it doesn’t hurt to outline the process you should go through for each question-type in your summary sheets! This makes doing questions a lot faster as you follow a basic method each time, which you tweak according to the question. Remember, they can only ask you so many question-types and having a basic method to refer to can make approaching difficult questions a lot easier as you know the certain things you should look out for or try.
Break big tasks into smaller tasks
This is quite self-explanatory but approaching a huge task can be quite daunting. Breaking the assignment into smaller tasks such as the introduction, para 1, para 2, para 3, and conclusion, and allocating certain times to doing them makes everything a lot more clear and manageable. If it’s a topic that you need to learn, you can break the topic into sub-topics to learn. You are also less likely to miss out on something if you have this checklist of smaller tasks of which the overall task consists!
Have a plan for each study session
You don’t want to be starting a study session without knowing what you’re doing. If you don’t allocate a specific task to get done, you won’t be able to hold yourself accountable or know when to finish. This is why, for every study session, you should tell yourself what you should have completed by the end of it, which can be as simple as completing 10 pages of your maths book, writing two body paragraphs for your essay, or doing 20 chem questions from a worksheet. Just make sure your intention outlines clearly what you need to do – don’t tell yourself that this session you “want to be more confident in calculus”. HOW will you be more confident is the question you need to be asking and then following up on accordingly.
- Block out any distractions – put your phone on silent and don’t sit next to friends in class if they are major distractions
- Designate a study area
- Pay attention in class – in the end, the teachers are the ones making the exams so it is extremely important to pay attention to any hints the teacher gives or any requirements for your working out/answers e.g. the process you need to show on the exam to get full marks
- Ask questions to teachers and tutors – they are there to help you!
This blog was written by our Chemistry tutor, Sreeya. You can find her profile here.