It’s that time of year again. The dreaded exams are coming up, the teachers have started piling extra homework and past papers on you, and, worst of all – you have to study.
Some people see the studying period as a huge mountain – and, unfortunately, far too many attempt to do it that way. Instead of starting at the gentle slope and working their way up slowly and steadily, they try to climb the steep, vertical cliff, struggling and panting, getting tired and hungry quickly and easily giving up. However, studying doesn’t have to be like that. With some preparation, studying can be easy and virtually painless.
The first thing to get rid of is distractions. Distractions are a huge problem at diverting your attention away from studying, sometimes you don’t even realise it’s happening. Here are the biggest distractions to look out for, and how to avoid them.
You glance up, and your favourite film is on the TV! Delightfully, you throw your pen down and watch it, silently deciding to get started later. You watch your film. Then something else is on. Funny, how good things are only on when you’re busy. The television suddenly becomes ten times more interesting than usual. Then it’s midnight and your mum’s telling you to go to bed, you have school in the morning. That’s when you realise, and cast a guilty glance at your work. Maybe tomorrow.
To avoid this distraction, simply take your work into a room without a television, or even the library. Don’t even glance at the TV guide before you go – your eye is bound to catch something you like. Forget about television and concentrate on what really matters – your future. After an hour or two of studying, treat yourself to some TV. Then you can watch with more enjoyment and know you deserved it!
Friends or Family
There’s nothing worse when you’ve actually managed to get started studying when your friends knock on your door, or your little sister walks in wanting to play with you, or your parents ask you to do something. Once your focus is gone it can be very difficult to get it back. And you can barely scream at them, “Leave me alone, I’m studying!”
There are a few ways to avoid this distraction. You can tell your friends and family that you want to spend an hour or so alone to study, so they will deliberately leave you to it. Or, go to the library. You may feel silly for going there, but who cares? The only people who will see you are people who go into the library themselves. It’s quiet, it has a working atmosphere and you’re unlikely to get distracted. And at the end of the day, your grades matter.
Nowadays most people use revision websites, resources, e-books and online past papers to study. These, of course, are good, but the most common distraction is the temptation to click on Facebook, your email or online games. Before you know it two hours have gone by and the biggest achievement you’ve had is a high score on Tetris.
To avoid this distraction, you could disconnect your internet for a while – although this can cause a few problems when you want to hook it back up afterwards. Again, you could go to the Library or even use a school computer, where Facebook and games aren’t as easily accessible.
The only thing worse than studying is studying with a runny nose. Illness is horrible to study with – trying to absorb information whilst your brain feels like it’s in a vice is, incredibly, more difficult than it sounds. However, there are ways to study while your ill that won’t just make you feel worse.
Study a tiny bit at a time until you’re well enough to work properly again. Give yourself a goal every hour or so – learn one date off by heart, or one person’s name, or one fact you need for your exam. Absorb tiny bits of information at a time – this way, you are still studying, but you’re not overworking so you’ll end up remembering nothing at all.
Having a job whilst at school is great, but too many hours can distract you from your schoolwork. Money at this point may seem more attractive than sitting at home with your nose in a book, but short-term wages will be much less than a better job in the future after your education.
Try and work for sixteen hours or less a week – this will leave you more time for socialising, studying, and sleeping!
Being Hungry or Tired
One great skill many students have is using the most difficult time of day to start studying – trust me, I’ve been there. Eleven o’clock at night sound familiar? How about when you should be eating? Without a good amount of sleep and food, your brain won’t function well enough. You don’t want to end up snoozing into your Maths work.
Work out a sensible time to study and eat – weekends are easier. Everyone is different, some people may work better in the evening and some may work better in the morning. I find I can work best at about midday – so make sure you eat a good and reasonably healthy lunch, perhaps with foods such as bananas that release their energy slowly – and you should feel better than forcing information into your brain in the middle of the night with your tummy rumbling. Also make sure you have a short break every half-hour or so, and, if you like, have a drink beside you whilst you work.
When done properly, studying can be doable and even enjoyable. You’ll feel confident walking into an exam and find that everything seems a lot more interesting when you understand it properly. Don’t be discouraged by people around you who insist it is boring, or that it’s too difficult – try hard, and you will succeed. Study and preparation is key. As Benjamin Franklin said, “failing to prepare is preparing to fail”. You can do it!