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Alternative Study Techniques

Alternative Study Techniques

While days spent in the library “hitting the books” is a tried and tested study technique, indeed, one that has been around since the birth of academia, it is by no means the only way to get ahead. As it happens, long periods of sedentary work can have a wearying effect on the body and mind and this will not do. After all, you need your mind as alert as possible in order to process and absorb information. Three hours of focused and attentive study is, we all know, better than six hours of sleepy disconsolate study. In order to keep your mind alert you need to keep your body active. This means eating healthy food and getting some exercise. This need not be onerous on any front. A mere twenty minutes of exercise every day can make the difference, as can adequate nutrition be obtained through eating five portions of fruit and vegetables per day. Furthermore, it is absolutely essential to get sufficient sleep. This is not just a matter of bodily rest to be remedied with ample caffeine; on the contrary, it is of cognitive significance. Inadequate sleep impedes reasoning, problem solving, and concentration; in other words, makes it difficult to learn. Moreover, studies have recently found that sleep cycles play an important role in consolidating memories; meaning, a lack of sleep will make it harder to retain information. For this reason, one of the best study techniques is to limit your exertions. If you make sure your brain is getting the right fuel and appropriate rest then it will keep going for longer and more efficiently.   

Another great way to learn something is to teach it. Take any opportunity you can to try and explain important concepts to your peers; if you are able to make them understand the issue in question then it is very likely you have a firm command of it. Teaching a subject forces you to think about it in a different manner and requires a more comprehensive approach. You might try and make a routine of exchanging teacher/learner roles with fellow students. This will make the learning process far more engaging because it socialises it. There is no reason learning should be dull. Getting your friends involved in study groups makes the process interactive and more fun. If you find libraries uninspiring, change location to a more interesting setting. You could study outdoors, in a park or common, a cafe or even the local pub. If you can a find a few friends who are studying the same things as you are you could combine learning with a night out. Go bowling and debate politics. Get to the bottom of semiotics over a game of mini golf. Whatever you find interesting.

The closer you can converge your study priorities with recreational activity the more appealing such learning will become. If you enjoy study, it is more likely you will maintain it; in turn, you are more likely to retain what you learn. For example, search your local library or online sources for documentaries related to your study topic. Films can be very good for exposition of complex topics; in addition, watching a movie is enjoyable and can be done with friends. You might also find online talks and seminars useful, allowing you all the benefits of a lecture but from the comfort of your own home. Experiment with audio-books, thereby making your study highly portable; this will allow you to go for a invigorating walk to the green grocers while learning all the way. For best results, combine all of the above methods. Diversity keeps the mind alert because it needs constantly to adapt to the stimuli it is receiving; moreover, the novelty will make the experience more memorable. The key is to avoid excessive routine (which can tend to numb the intellect).

You may want to try even more experimental approaches to study. Meditation, for example, has been found to aid memory retention and reduce stress. Doing mild exercise before an examination, evidence suggests, can boost performance. Giving yourself “treats” or incentives for meeting study objectives can also help. There are numerous apps and online resources geared specifically toward helping students. Many other alternatives exist. Perhaps you will even devise your own innovative study approach. The most important thing is that you find the right combination of methods for you. The essence of study is to gain knowledge and this may be done in all manner of ways. 

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