Five study techniques you need to know about

April 15, 2015
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It’s getting to that point in the semester when the boredom and blues of work and essay writing are surely getting you down.

You’re probably in the library pretending to do your readings while actually stalking that popular girl from high school you always hated, who is now a train wreck sharing morose posts on Instagram just for your viewing pleasure. C’mon, admit it.

So here at Hijacked we’re here to help you shake off your mid-semester rut and get you right back into study mode. We’ve compiled some of the best – and most interesting – study techniques to get you back on track. Some you might have heard of, and others may be completely new. But trust us – we’ve got some awesome tips to help you breeze through semester.

Ditch digital and get back to print

Personally, I’m old school: I like doing my readings with hard copies and preparing my notes on paper. And luckily I’ve got stats to back me up. Research has shown that doing your reading on an iPad instead of on paper will slow you down by 6.2 per cent (it’s 10.7 per cent slower if you’re using a Kindle device, but who uses Kindles anyway?). Other research on the use of digital devices has suggested that students require more repetition to learn something new off a screen than from a hard copy book or series of articles. So although it might be a bit more expensive printing notes, ditch the digital for a change and get back to reading and annotating on paper.

Studying in the same place at the same time

This may sound like one of the most boring techniques out there, but I know from experience it works like magic. When I study, I go to the same chair at the same table at the same library. Keeping your study location consistent and heading there at roughly the same time each day (e.g. during the afternoon) helps improve your focus and concentration because your mind recognises this as the “study zone”. If you flit between home, the uni library or the train, you’re not building consistency or familiarity. Cut your brain some slack and keep it regular.

Flashing yourself

I’ve got friends studying the sciences and they all swear by flashcards while prepping for an exam. There’s one method dubbed the “Leitner System”, which has become one of the best ways to use flashcards. The flashcard system works by moving the cards you have correctly answered further down a full box of flashcards. The incorrectly answered cards are moved to the front of the box. The cards at the front of the box are then studied more often and the interval becomes greater as you proceed down the line. This system forces you to study the topic you are struggling with over and over until you learn it.

The sounds of music

Everyone knows that listening to music can help you study, but I think many of us are resistant to trying out the classical music playlists available on Spotify. Many studies have found over and over that if you listen to classical music, particularly the likes of Mozart and Beethoven, you can activate parts of your brain that help you pay attention. Listening to music also puts you in a good mood. We suggest doing interchanging baroque sounds and Top 20 tunes - breaking up the cycle will keep your mind engaged.

Jog on

If there’s one thing we all know about study, it’s that exercise and fitness are paramount to facilitating learning - especially cardio exercise or some kind of sport. What current research suggests is that moving before a study session will give you a strong study boost because exercise gets blood flowing around your body, especially to your brain. This will ensure you stay alert and learn in a more effective way, because your brain and body are both ready to sit down, rest and hit the books!

Nathan Smith

Nathan Smith is a Master of Journalism student at the University of Melbourne. His writing has been published in Salon, The Advocate and Overland.