How to Study Smarter, not Harder

Study Smarter with Tricks

Do you feel that you put in more study hours than some of your classmates but they still end up doing better? If so, then there is a high chance you are working harder but they are working smarter. Study smarter, not harder has been a popular saying pioneered by Kevin Paul’s bestselling book “Study Smarter, not Harder”. What does it mean to study smarter? How to study smart? These are some of the questions this article will address.

Bill Gates, Founder of Microsoft, once said: “I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.”

This quote from Gates quite well summarises the entire jist of why working smarter is better than working harder. It’s not the ones who work the hardest that succeed, but it is those who work the smartest. Hard Work means putting a lot of effort and time into getting work done. On the other hand, smart work means finding the most efficient and innovative way of getting the work done. If our ancient forefathers had clung to the hard work mantra, they would have continued to manually move things and would have never invented the wheel. Smart work requires creativity and innovation. In this article, we will look at some ways in which students can study smarter and not harder.

Engage not memorise

Students tend to memorise study material by reading and re-reading the books, reading material, and class notes. Reading the same material, again and again, is not smart. Try and engage with the concepts in a way that you internalise them better. Look for applications, and real-life examples to better understand the concepts. If possible, try implementing them practically. Use multimedia such as videos and animation to understand concepts more deeply. In this way, you will utilise your efforts smartly and the output would be much better than simply spending hours re-reading the same material.

Understand your learning style

Each of us is unique and we learn in our unique ways. Do not go with the herd and follow the same routes to learning as everyone else. Figure out what time of the day works best for you, and what duration at a stretch is more productive for you. Figure out methods that work better for you. Some of us learn well by spending more time on the theory while some learn better by solving more and more problems. Some of us are early morning learners while late nights work better for others. For some of us, short spurts of intense study work better, while for others a relaxed pace of study works. Some grasp better in isolation and silence (e.g. in a library), some study well with music and headphones, while others grasp well in group study settings. Explore your learning rhythms and follow the same for better results.

Take help

There is no harm in taking help from others instead of wasting time reinventing the wheel. These others could be your seniors, classmates, someone in the family, or other contacts in the neighbourhood. Your teacher in the class may not have been able to explain a concept to you in the best possible way. Many times a classmate who has understood the concepts well can be your best teacher to help you quickly grasp those concepts.

Manage Time

Time management is an essential skill for smart work. One easy way to implement smart work in your schedule is to identify time wasters in your daily schedule. These could be activities that take away a lot of your precious time and do not yield much. For example, group study could be a wasteful activity for some, while for others it could be an extremely productive and efficient way of learning. Figure out what works for you the best. Other time wasters could be certain activities you could avoid or certain friends who take away a lot of your productive time.

Identify patterns

Smart work requires an understanding of patterns. These could be patterns of questions in the exams, or evaluation patterns of your teachers. Understanding these patterns could bring focus to your tasks, eliminate non-value-adding activities and help you make the most out of your efforts. For example, going through the last few years of question papers sometimes gives you a hint on what to expect and thus helps you prioritise your efforts smartly. Doing mock tests in a simulated test environment is another example of smart work which can yield good results.

Explore tricks

There is no shame in exploring efficient shortcuts and tricks that can help bring in exponential returns on your time and effort investment. Most coaching institutes for entrance exams such as CAT, NEET, and JEE focus on teaching tricks to tackle multiple choice questions so that students can crack those exams by working smart. Most of us still remember the acronym BODMAS (Bracket Order/Of, Division, Multiplication, Addition, Subtraction), which tells us the sequence of mathematical operations. Excellent use of acronyms to memorise and otherwise difficult construct. Utilise such study techniques which make learning more efficient for you.

Use Technology

The very purpose of technological innovations is to help us live smart by eliminating effort. Why spend time and effort cooking, just order food on Zomato, why spend time and effort going out shopping, just shop on Amazon, etc? There are a variety of study tools that can help students study smarter, not harder. Online learning platforms such as YouTube, Byju’s, and Unacademy with their innovative teaching methods make it easy for students to learn and grasp complex concepts. A lot of these tools provide analytical insights into the preparation levels. For example, these tools can tell you which topics you are weak and which topics you have mastered. With these insights, you can optimise your study efforts by focusing on areas that need your attention.

At EuroSchool working smart is deeply ingrained in our students. We encourage students and enable them to figure out the ways of learning that work best for them. Our teachers impart smart-working skills to our students. This ability to work smart holds our students in good stead not only in academics but also in their professional journey.

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