5 Study Methods I've Found Useful While Studying For The IGCSE Mocks
I've searched and searched for different ways to boost my studying. And over the Christmas holiday, I think I've found my latest study methods that work!
1. You have a ‘Productive Time Frame’
People say you’re either an ‘early bird’ or a ‘night owl’ but I feel like it’s a little more complicated than that. I found myself being able to really concentrate on my studies around certain times of the day. Everyday I woke up around 9 'o clock and started revision at 10. Anything before that, I wasn't fully awake, and if I went too far past 10 in the morning, I found myself being really unproductive that day. 10 AM was the magic time where my concentration and motivation to study started.
After a few days of analysing my productivity with relation to what time of the day it was, I found out that my ability to concentrate plummeted at around 3 to 4 in the afternoon and 8 to 10-ish at night. So I planned my study times around those hours.
Doing this gave me a clear idea of when I could be relaxing without feeling guilty. And I could do other things, like working out or catching up on reading, instead of holding on to a Chemistry problem for hours, even though I could solve the same one in 5 minutes when I'm more focused.
2. The Pomodoro Method
If you've tried searching 'ways to be productive' on Google, you would've come across the Pomodoro Method at least once. It's a nice way of making sure you're using your time wisely, without overworking yourself and burning out after a day.
The typical Pomodoro Method includes:
1) Picking a task to accomplish
2) Setting up a timer for 25 minutes
3) Working on the task until the timer goes off
4) Taking a short 5 minute break
- That's 1 pomodoro -
5) Taking a longer, 15 minute break every 4 pomodoros
I've changed up the times a bit to suit my study style. I can usually concentrate super intently for 50 minutes until I start glancing at the clock. And because I usually don't like my workflow being interrupted too much, I stuck with the short 5 minute break. But the long break is longer for me, with 20 minutes.
This method helped me accomplish tasks without getting distracted by so many different things. I had a clear goal and since I was breaking my times into shorter segments, it wasn't too daunting. You could even set a tighter schedule by telling yourself that you're going to finish the task in n number of pomodoros!
3. Don’t Start Your Day With A Screen
This was actually a major change in my lifestyle. Right after my breakfast, I would go through all the emails and messages that piled up during the night. Then I would go on and read up on the latest new stories. If I stopped there, it might not be too bad. But phones have such a way with making people distracted; I usually end up reading the most unrelated news or start a YouTube binge-watching session. I get too absorbed in it to acknowledge that it's time for me to start studying, and before I know it, it's already lunch time and I don't have the motivation to do anything. Sound familiar?
To stop this endless cycle, I started putting my phone aside, until I finished at least two planned tasks. This helped me stay in my workflow and with the Pomodoro Method, I was able to use my phone as a 'reward'. And since I didn't have as much time to spend on the phone, I started to use it more efficiently, answering messages right away and reading things that were actually useful in my life.
4. Don't Be Afraid to Throw Tasks Away
Let me elaborate on this. It may seem a bit contradicting to what I was saying before about completing tasks. What I mean by not being afraid to 'throw away' your tasks is to make sure a task doesn't weigh you down that day. If you had an area to study but can't seem to concentrate on it, move onto a different task. But make sure that you don't switch too often, or else you won't get anything completed.
This point shouldn't be used as an excuse to shove every single task to a different day. To prevent that, always have an alternative task you can do in place of the one you've discarded. Keeping a weekly to-do list is so helpful in this situation. For example, if you were to take out Task 3 on Monday, you could switch it with Task 2 on Wednesday.
5. Textbooks Are Your Friend
When I started out my mock studies, I downloaded hundreds of past papers in thinking that after solving all of them, I would become the master of all subjects. Unfortunately, it wasn't like that at all. Since there were topics that I lacked the knowledge in, solving past paper problems only served the purpose of showing me what the questions could be about.
I didn't actually get to organise my thoughts on the topics or learn something new. And when I came across a question I didn't know, I would just get the answers without even trying to solve it and agree to what was written in the mark scheme. Very bad way to use past papers.
So in the other half of the break, I got out my textbooks and slowly went through the topics from the start. It helped me see what knowledge I was lacking. Also, it was easier to organise my thoughts for chapters that had a lot of sub topics. But remember not to 'just read' the textbook. The passive flow of information doesn't really do much for memory retention. Make notes connecting different topics together and try to write out what you've learnt on a blank piece of paper. Highlighting key information can also be helpful when you're trying to find specific phrases or equations.
What are some of your tried-and-true methods for studying efficiently?