6 Ways to Study Smarter and Learn Fast for Exams

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Time – the one thing that no one seems to be able to enough of, especially if you are a student, isn’t it?

There is so much to do, so many assignments to complete and projects to finish.What about your social life? Some time off the intense study in college, should help right? 

Long story short, as a student, you may feel that you are always running late and have no time to spare. And with examinations, whether it’s your SPM examination or your college examinations, the whole world seems to crumble down!

If this sounds like you, you are not alone. Studying for examinations may wreak havoc on students, which shouldn’t be. 

But just visit our Penang college campus during the exam week, and you’ll see tension and chaos everywhere. Most students are stressed out, tired and scared.

But the question is, must prepare for an exam be that stressful? Is there a way to study, that takes less time and gets more results? In short, is there a smart’ way to study?

There are proven scientific ways and strategies that can help you perform better in an exam. More importantly, these strategies can help you retain the knowledge in a way that goes beyond scoring well in an exam.

Put it this way, the smarter you study, the better understanding of the topic you have. At SENTRAL college, we believe it’s better to study smart than study hard.

So, what are these strategies and how can you implement them in your routine to get on top of your studies? 

1 – Study using a multimodal approach 

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Elon Musk is an expert in multimodal learning approach.

Don’t get intimidated by the big words here! Put in the simplest terms, a multimodal studying technique uses more than one media to supply the information that you learn. For example, in a multimodal approach, you will read about a concept and then watch a video or a demonstration based on the same concept. The theory is, more ways you study something, the better you remember it.

Now, there is some solid science behind this concept as well. Different media stimulate different parts of your brain. So, in theory, when you study the same concept in various ways, more of your brain areas are activated, and you learn more, better.

So, how can you implement this technique to study for your exams? Well, here are some ways you can implement the multimodal method.

  • Read your notes and the textbook.
  • Search and watch some online videos related to the topic
  • Look for some other media such as charts or graphics involving the concept and try linking the ideas together. 
  • Discuss what you know with your friends and try explaining it without referencing. 
  • Try solving problems on the concept from different sources

2 – Spice up your studying regime

Many students make the mistake of taking up a couple of subjects and studying them exclusively for days.

The problem is reading the same thing over and over again can get boring very quickly. According to a ton of research on the topic, studying multiple subjects every day can help students to distinguish between the concepts better. 

For instance, if you are preparing for four subjects over a week, it is better to study all two to three of them each day rather than studying each subject exclusively for a couple of days.

The reason for this is quite simple if you think about it.

When you study the same subject continuously for an extended time, subtleties between the concepts can easily get lost. It can get difficult to distinguish between familiar concepts. On the other hand, if you take a break with some different subjects, you stand a better chance of distinguishing between the topics.

For example, if you were to take the diploma in business studies course at SENTRAL college, you’ll find that you’ll have a few subjects to study for, including subjects that do not directly relate to business studies, such as computer applications and microeconomics. It’ll be beneficial to switch between the subjects when doing a deep study, so your brain can take a break and refresh concepts.

3 – Make a schedule to study and stick to it

One of the worst things that you can do while studying for an exam is to cram everything up. It is a scientific fact that if you try to cram a lot of stuff right before an exam, you are bound to get confused. Besides, cramming is worst for long-term retention.

It is a scientific fact that if you try to cram a lot of stuff right before an exam, you are bound to get confused. Besides, cramming is worst for long-term retention if you need to memorize lots of things. 

Periodic review of what you have learned helps you to retain more knowledge. Make sure that you are reviewing the material you learned every few days or weeks. Although it may sound a lot of work, periodic reviewing can get increasingly easy as the time passes by and you start to retain more. Sure, reviewing what you studied can be time-consuming at first, but by the time you are on your third review, you can get it done in the fraction of the time.

Make sure that you are reviewing the material you learned every few days or weeks. Although it may sound a lot of work, periodic reviewing can get increasingly easy as the time passes by and you start to retain more. Sure, reviewing what you studied can be time-consuming at first, but by the time you are on your third review, you can get it done in the fraction of the time.

Also, make sure that you have a schedule planned for the study/review session and stick to the schedule religiously. The amount of review you need depends on the complexity of the subject matter and your level of understanding, but make sure that you review the entire material at least twice before writing the exam.

On scheduling your time to study, try creating a system instead of goals.

Instead of telling yourself, I’ll finish studying a subject in two weeks, mark your schedule and create a system to study a few hours everyday. The logic here is setting goals sometimes can feel too far to reach. But by setting a system to study 2-3 hours daily and sticking to it, you’ll be able to finish studying by the end of weeks.

4 – Keep distractions at bay

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Multi-tasking while studying is a bad idea. Several scientific studies are proving that multitasking can lead to loss of productivity and increase distraction. Focusing on one thing at a time helps you to get it done more efficiently. Avoid watching TV, listening to music or chatting while studying.

The more distracted you are, the worse you will be at taking in the knowledge you are trying so hard to learn. You may think that keeping the TV on while you study won’t distract you, but it will, and you will lose focus.

Here are some things that can help you reduce distractions and get back on track while you study.

  • Keep your phone away. If you must, store it somewhere far away, where it’s not reachable to prevent yourself from falling short. 
  • If possible, turn off internet access to your computer and log off from all messaging platforms like Facebook.
  • As far as possible, don’t open a browser window that is not directly related to your studies
  • Keep your study area clutter free. A clutter free desk creates a clutter-free brain.

5 – Test your knowledge and understanding of the subjects frequently

Testing frequently can be a great way to review your course material. Testing yourself also prepares you for the questions that you will see in your exam. There is a ton of scientific data that proves that the more you test yourself, the better you perform in the exams.

Periodic quizzing yourself or your friends on a topic can increase the retention a lot. There are a ton of self-tests, quizzes and questionnaires online. Search for them and practice answering them every few weeks to test your retention and knowledge. 

In fact, this is why most students enrolled in study programmes at Sentral, whether it’s in accounting, tourism and hospitality or our latest diploma in business studies programme, all get tested with frequent examinations or quizzes during lectures.

This helps students retain knowledge and understand the subjects better.

6 – Establish mental connections

One of the best ways to improve retention and understanding is to establish mental connections.

Whenever you learn a new concept, try to relate it to something you already know. Connecting two seemingly different topics can be difficult initially, but you can find a connection if you try a bit.

For instance, if you are trying to learn about the immune system, you can visualize the different types of cells as soldiers with different ranks fighting to protect their country. This concept is also known as visualization to many. 

If you establish successful connections in your brain, there is a good chance that you will remember them through the exam. As soon as you link a concept to something that you know, you become comfortable with it and remember it for a long time.

Final Words

Learning for exams can be intimidating. It takes a lot of patience and practice.

That said, it’s often better to study smarter. If there is one key takeaway from this post, then it’s this: 

Studying for the exam is going to take time, it is going to take dedication, and it is going to be difficult. But with the right attitude, mindset and study technique, studying can be made more relaxed and more importantly effective. 

By the way, SENTRAL College Penang partners with the prestigious University of Salford – one of the Top 100 universities in the UK, offering students in Penang the Bachelor of Business Management programme. Our tutors preach the habits to study smarter and look to instill better learning into every student.

What are your most effective studying techniques? Share them below in the comment section below and we’ll share them with our student & teacher community at SENTRAL college Penang.

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