After finishing school over five years ago then completing a diploma in Oxford in 2016, I vowed I’d never go anywhere near education again. I was done with studying, books, revision, exams, coursework, reports and those stupid little flashcards that you have to write really small on. But since then, a few years have passed and I’ve been in desperate need of a challenge and something to stimulate my brain. So when my employer offered to pay for me to undertake a diploma through work last year, I swiftly responded with ‘YEEEEEEEESSSSS’.
Since then, I’ve been a busy bee in and out of the office getting my head down and studying hard to try and achieve a decent grade. It’s great to be doing something worthwhile but bloody hell, I forgot how difficult I find it to concentrate on reading and writing when I don’t have the creative freedom I usually have. So not only have I been grafting for my diploma but I’ve also been trying to re-learn how to study which is why today I bring you five tips for studying that actually work.
Work out your learning style
Everyone is different and has a unique way of retaining and processing information which can be grouped into a four different learning styles: visual, auditory, reading/writing and kinesthetic. I won’t bore you with the details but basically there are different practices for each style and if you know what they are, studying can be much easier – the key word being ‘can’. For example, one of my friends used to record herself reading her revision notes then download it onto her iPod and listen to it religiously because she was more of an auditory learner. I’m a visual learner so I love a list and need to write all my notes down using different colours and diagrams. If you have no clue what your learning style is, you can find it out here and try out some new studying strategies but just be aware that they’re not always going to work 100% of the time.
Set yourself goals
When you embark on a new training course or qualification, ultimately your end goal is to complete it and as with any goal, it’s easier to break it down into more manageable chunks. So when I’ve got a 180-page study guide to read, I’ll create realistic goals like “read chapters one to four and highlight key words by the end of the week”. This can also help to keep you on track with your study plan (if you choose to have one).
If you’re anything like me and have a short attention span and get distracted easily then trust me, you need to sit on your own! Forget having a laugh revising with your pals, if it’s going in one ear and out the other then it’s a complete waste of time. Obviously it might help for some people to be sat with others but if you know deep down that you’ll end up dicking about, just don’t do it!
No matter how good at English you are, you need Grammarly
I’m gonna go ahead and blow my own trumpet here and say I’m pretty good when it comes to the English language, spelling and grammar. BUT Grammarly is an absolute babe and still manages to find flaws in my writing which is so handy. It’s also a great tool for cutting down your word count when you’re way over (story of my life) as it tells you when you could use more concise language.
Switch off your phone
My number one distraction is my phone and always has been since I first started revising for GCSEs. So what do I do when I’m hardcore studying? Get rid of it! Well, not literally but I have to either turn it off or put it in another room to save myself from picking it up every five minutes to scroll through Instagram. This is probably one of my biggest tips for studying because I just don’t believe anyone who says they can work properly when their phone is sat right next to them staring them in the face!
Remember to take a break
Remember dear old Will from The Inbetweeners and the shocker he had revising? Turns out staying up all night studying and drinking energy drinks doesn’t always have the desired effect! Don’t be like Will. Learn from his mistakes. It’s SO important that you remember to take a break from studying otherwise you’ll end up doing more damage than good. Science shows that you can’t actually concentrate properly for hours on end so try to take a short break every hour or so to improve your productivity. What you do in those breaks is completely up to you – make a cuppa, have a fag, scroll through Insta – but don’t do anything where you could end up procrastinating… So maybe scrolling through social media isn’t the best idea!
When you’re reading, do it out loud
Did you know that you’re 50% more likely to remember something if you read it out loud instead of in your head over and over again? That’s crazy right? So if you can, try reading out loud!
Use CiteThisForMe for referencing
When I first embarked on my diploma, I did not have a clue what Harvard referencing was and I was sort of just relying on the study guides to show me how to do it. That was until my friend introduced me to CiteThisForMe and I am forever indebted to her for saving me so much time. You can copy a link or book reference number or title into their website and it will fill out most of the information you need to include in your references and create a whole bibliography which you can just copy and paste into your Word document. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
Teach others what you’ve learnt
In school, I remember my teachers encouraging us to re-teach what we’d learnt to our peers and I do remember it helping. Even though I have to study on my own otherwise I will literally get fuck all done, reciting what I’ve read or written about to my manager or Toby can help it sink in more.
Corh that was a long old post wasn’t it? But these studying tips have genuinely worked for me so if you’re easily distracted and have poor concentration levels like me, they might be able to help you too!
Do you have any tips for studying you want to share? What helped you at school/college/uni?