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How Should We Study?

How should we study?

Exams are coming closer, closer and closer. Some of you might be getting very tensed up. Some of you may be saying, “It is okay yaar, I will deal with it”. But in either case we will be having a lot of people who will be telling you study hard, study hard, study more. Actually I do not believe in that, you know. I do not think studying hard gets you results. I think studying smart gets you results. What do you mean by this thing called ‘study smart’? It means being able to know when to study. There are times when you need to study and there are times when you do not need to study. It means to know where to study. Oh my god, it makes so much difference where and how you study, you know that. And then comes the techniques, how to study. There are different ways of studying. What suits you should be the one that you should pick up. Once you do that then you become selective, what to study. After you have mastered this or while you are mastering it, there will be one question that you will need to ask yourself that it is why to study. Why study at all? Is it just to get that a bit extra marks, no, it is much more than that. So, what I am going to do is, I am going to take you through this process of when to study, where to study, how to study, what to study and why to study. If you understand these concepts, believe me, you will not only do much better in the exams, you will have true learning taking place. What goes in will remain permanently with you. Okay, best of luck.

Let us now talk about how to study. Some people study hard, some people study smart, which category do you belong to? You go on studying, you go on mugging. You get up in the morning and say I am going to do nothing but study. You know you are like that woodcutter, who wanted to chop so many trees that he forgot to sharpen the saw. You will have to sharpen your mental saw from time to time. Each person is unique and I am not going to tell you how you are going to study, you are going to find out by yourself. There are some of us who open up a book and sit down, read peacefully and they get it. There are some who are auditory people, you may be the type of person who when you speak loudly, when you read loudly it gahers in. Simple, read one chapter softly and read one chapter loudly and see which of one you are grasping better. See if writing down notes helps you. See if writing down just small bullet points helps you. See if walking up and down, stretching a little bit here and there and then reading helps you or just sitting in one place all the time. See if you are the visual type, you like to highlight the most important definition, the formulae and stuff like that, so that you can go back to that. See If you are the kinesthetic type, I know of students who actually keep a white board or a black board in their house and they take a marker and they start writing down. When they write down they realize that they are able to study better. So there are different ways of doing it but you have to find out which is the one which is most suitable to you.

There is one good time-proven method for studying, which is called the ‘SQ3RT ‘. ‘S’ means survey. Survey the topic , survey the subject, survey the textbook, how many chapter there are, what do they deal with. What are good, what are easy, what are difficult, do that entire survey. Like how you survey a locality to decide whether this place is good or not. Then ‘Q’ question yourself, why am I studying this? What will I get out of this? How does this connect to that? How this chapter is connected to that chapter. Ask questions, your curiosity goes up. Then comes the ‘3Rs’. Read, review and revise,. Read it first, review it what you have learnt and after a gap, may be at the end of the day, may be the next day, or after a week’s time revise it. A lot of students who keep complaining that I study, I understand, and I comprehend, but when I go for the exams, I forget what I studied. It is because they have not done periodic revision. It may be there in your mind, you know what happens to the mind, it slowly starts sinking, going lower and lower like your facebook posts. So what you have to do is to keep pushing it up. So what took you one hour to study initially and you were trying to understand it, revise it in five minutes, it will become fresh in your mind. The last is ‘T’ test yourself. Why do you think schools give first preparatory, second preparatory, third preparatory, because the more you practice the better you are when you finally face the exams. So why wait for the school to give you one of those preps and this and that, do your own testing, give yourself a half an hour test, give yourself one hour test. I have read the chapter and now close it and write down all that I remember about that thing. Ask yourself certain questions and reflect and keep writing in that.

How should we study?

Now let me give you one very nice technique. This is a time-proven thing. It is called mind mapping. Take a subject. Let us say you are not very fond of history, you are forcing yourself to read it. Take a piece of KG cardboard or something, a piece of paper, start writing like this with a pencil. Why pencil, because if there is a need you can rub it out and redo the whole thing as and when required.

So now what I am going to do is, I am studying history. I am going to divide history into the sections. Let us say the sections are old history, medieval history, modern history, independence history etc. Do not ask me whether this is correct or not, because I also do not know much of history. Anyway supposing these are the sections, so I divide them into four sections. Then what I am going to do, I take one of the sections. I take post independence history, so I say independence struggle, then I say emergency period then I say something else so I divide it into three or four parts. Once I have done that ask yourself how much I know about this. 1 means I know everything, 2 means I know something, 3 means I know nothing. Now this one was a little interesting so I write against it 1. This one I know a little bit, I am not very sure so I write 2. This one gone over my head, so I write no 3. Once you mark this out, whenever you sit down to study, start with reading no 3. Where ever it comes, even if it is in the middle of a chapter or paragraph, read this when your mind is fresh. Then spend shorter time doing number 2 and then just spend 2 or 3 minutes revising number 1 because this you know already. So every time this happens you keep doing this and every time you feel like you are learning something rub the number 3 and make it number 2, rub the number2 and make it number 1. As your exams come closer you will develop the confidence 3s are becoming 2s, and 2s are becoming 1s. Your confidence goes up and you know as the time keeps getting shorter and shorter what should I spend time on studying. Once you do that, you will not have examination stress, you will be able to happily face the exams.

Best of luck.

This is a transcript of a video talk by Dr. Ali Khwaja: How should we study?

By Ali Khwaja

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