Study, Eat, Sleep, Repeat,

Volume 3: mind hacks to study better.

No matter how young or old you are, you deserve to know these mind hacks to study better! From an early age, we are told that we have to study. But many times, little attention is paid to HOW to study, specifically because each one has a different brain, and therefore can use different techniques and tricks to study.  In this third volume of “Study, Eat, Sleep, Repeat”, we are going to help you manage your time when you Study Abroad.

Mind is a mystery to many. That is what makes people believe that if you record yourself reading the textbook and play that recording while you sleep, you might pass your exams. This lack of knowledge also makes many people cheat in their exams. Do not let lack of studying technique demotivate you enough to make you lazy, because being lazy will inevitably lead to bad results or cheating. These are our mind hacks to study, depending on the type of student you are.

Retention

If you are good at retention, just read the content as many times as you can. Read for 40 minutes and give yourself 20 minutes breaks. Also, make sure to sleep well. If you have a lot of content to study, do not address it in order: start both from the beginning and the end and work your way down to the center of the content. Try to have consistency in your surroundings: light, sounds and smell; this will help your subconscious mind organize all of the information in the same “mind compartment”.

Understanding

If you are more of a logic fan, just reading the content will do no good to you. You will have to spend extra time with every concept, imagining it and spinning it around until you grab hold of it. However, once you have had your eureka moment, you will remember it forever. The best way you can study is complementing your textbook with internet videos and by doing experiments yourself. Then, try to explain what you learned to other people around you (make sure you are not too insistent, though). If you have to study plain content, like history, try looking for cause-consequence relations. Language? Look up the origins of words (etymology).

Summarizing

If you are good at fragmenting information and turning plain two-dimensional data into trees and schemes, try this: summarize the information into half of its size. Then again, to a quarter of its size. You can do this up until you have just a phrase for each big concept. Then, you can go back and elaborate schemes and summaries that show the evolution of your data and explain how some small concepts belong to bigger families. Then, you can alternate studying the longer and shorter versions of the information. Ultimately, just a quick glance through the shortest version should help you remember everything you had to study.

Skimming vs scanning

It is useful to understand a text and how it is structured, for not only will your brain process it better, but you will understand how teachers and examiners group it too. First, skim through the text highlighting the “apparently important” information. Then, fully scan the text highlighting the truly important concepts in a different color and cross-reference the two techniques. You should very easily understand the content differently now, and this can help you structure your further studying routines.

Markers and highlighters

Highlighting is a very controversial technique. Some claim that it hurts your vision and it does not help you concentrate on the content. But highlighting big masses of text with a mellow color system is the best way to begin to grab hold of it. You should use different colors for titles, subtitles, dates, personalities, quotes, side-notes and so on. Then you can elaborate lists with exclusively one or the other fields, further expanding your understanding of the otherwise impossible-to-digest content.

Fast reading

If you do not have much time to go through all of the information but you need a quick pass through all, this is how you do it:  when reading, you should be fixing your eyes in stable spots of the text, instead of moving all the way across the line. Fix your eyes in the first word, then the middle word, then the last word of each line. By doing this briskly you should be able to read the whole content rapidly. Some people only need to look at the first and last word of each line and can very quickly read all of the text!

Reading out loud

Quite different to the one before, and great for people with good verbal retention. Read out loud. Literally, out loud. Do not let your tone go down after the first phrases. You can sit down or walk around, whisper or chant just like Shakespearian actors would. The trick here is that by talking, more neural systems are engaged, and retention is greater.

Elaborating

People that lack motivation in a certain topic might take advantage of research. Surprisingly, adding content to what is already appointed for the exams can help.  It will make it easier for you to grab hold of the content when you have found information related to the topics you like. Think of the football fan studying physics of kicks, history of sports, Spanish football slang, herbology of football field grass, and so on.

Representing

For those who are having real problems to remember chunks of information, but have the visual memory, there are a couple of tricks. For example, you can turn all of the information into drawings, computer graphs, cartoons, etc. Then, repeat the drawing process multiple times, adding or subtracting information each turn. Those images will be easier to evoke in the exam, and when remembering the pictures, the content will come along.

Mnemotechnic

The other way of using visual memory is by using mnemotechnic to remember the text. Imagine a big house. It should look a certain way, according to the subject that you are going to study. This house sounds and smells a certain way, so for each subject, try exposing yourself to some music, ambiances or scents (like different incense sticks). Then, start imagining walking through this house. In every room, you will imagine the information, either as part of the furniture, or books, or drawings. For every sub-topic, you should configure a room or space. Make sure you go back and forth through the mental image and your papers, and not just in the same order. When it is time to do the exam, take time to close your eyes and evoke the necessary room, and information will come eventually.

Whatever you would like to study,

you should not be intimidated by the volume of information handled. Having a degree, masters, even Ph.D. will improve your working opportunities and also turn you into a more curious and knowledgeable person. Check out our recommended Online Open Days to see what´s hot in the Study Abroad realm, and keep the moto: Study, Eat, Sleep, Repeat!

PS: Our last trick: Turning content into stupid songs – We all did this to learn the multiplying rules when we were kids. But it is a trick that did serve me up until grad when I had to learn countless chemical elements. Making up ridiculous songs or phrases might seem odd, but just like viral ads and jingles, they will wander around your mind for decades!

Study, Eat, Sleep, Repeat is a series of blogs about student life. Check the others about Eating and Sleeping!