By Susanna Sweeney, MSC, MBACP, CHT
This article will help you build a repertoire of useful mind power study techniques that you can use to excel at exams.
Let me start with the basics- nurturing your brain. It's easy to underestimate the importance of nurturing your brain. We take our mind for granted. I promise you that often, putting in place a few missing self care items can 'magic away' your concentration and focus issues.
So, before you do anything else, do read my article "Mastering Your Mind Power" to learn how to prepare your brain for periods of intense demand. Do not skip this step. Good brain self care will cut out many difficulties along the way.
Number one among all mind power study techniques is building an emotional connection with the content you are learning. Why?
Well, think about it. If you have positive emotions towards the content, your mind will come on board much quicker, motivation and enthusiasm will help you along.
Try using the Pomodoro technique to give your brain regular breaks during intense periods of study.
Here you study intensely for 25 minutes, setting yourself a timer, then you take a short break during which you could do some yoga stretches, jumps on the trampoline, or simply make a cup of tea and prepare a snack to have during the next bout of study.
After three such intense 25 minute periods, you then take a longer break when you can prepare/ eat a meal, go for a walk, rest, or do whatever else will recharge you.
Definitely take at least a short break after each hour of study because your memory retention will degrade after that and you won't be using your time effectively any longer.
Try out non-standard methods of study.
The standard method most people use is to study using their notes taken in class or rewritten afterwards. This method relies heavily on your visual channel.
But how about using the aural channel also?
Research shows that if you do not revise content within 24 hours of first learning it- you are very likely to forget 80 percent of it again. Regular revision is key to improving your memory of study content.
Be clear about your routine and write down a 24 hour schedule which includes your sleep, time spent at school/ college, sports, other activities, time to prepare meals and to eat, shopping and anything else you need to fit into your week. Stick to this schedule.
For intense periods of study, put yourself on a social media diet. Social media is known to interfere with your ability to concentrate and think clearly.
Prioritize your study. Divide items into categories such as 'most important', 'important', 'less important'. You could prioritize using different criteria depending on the situation- for example by which subject is likely to bring you the most points, or by the sequence of upcoming exam dates, focusing on the first exam first, the second one second etc.
Answer these questions and use the answers in helping you design a study program for your year ahead.
If you are reading PDF files using a PDF reader such as Adobe Acrobat- it will include a search function. Use this search function to move through the file looking for certain keywords that are relevant to your study. this will save you having to read the entire text.
Consider using audio books over the written text- this has the advantage that you can maximize on how you use your time- for example you can listen to audio books while you are driving or exercising. Furthermore, you are using you underused auditory channel, feeding your brain in a different way and your brain likes variety- so it is bound to be helpful.
When reading scientific papers for college, read the 'Abstract' first- this will give you an idea whether or not this study is relevant for what you are working on. Only then move on to the 'Discussion' section- at the start of which you will find the results of the research listed in simple, chunked down and easily comprehensible form.
If you need to delve into the topic area further, skim the 'Introduction' section for other useful studies you can use for making your argument.
Skimming- which means you are visually scanning the text in front of you- this may give you an overview but you are likely to miss out on the finer details.
When you are scanning the text in front of you your are not just reading it but also building a mind map or writing a list of the content in its order of importance.
Using the pointer method- you can help your reading by using a finger or ruler to guide you along sentences and down the page- this can be helpful for your eyes for improving focus.
I hope my article on mind power study techniques has helped you to get ready for study and exams. In the comments underneath, let our community know what new things you have learned here and how you are using them.
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