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Quality over quantity: How to study without wasting hours

The views expressed in this article are the views of the author.

We all have that friend who manages to get good grades while barely ever studying. Meanwhile, you’re spending hours studying for one test, and you still don’t do as well. You wonder, “Are they naturally gifted? Does the teacher give them an easier time? Do the gods smile down upon them, giving them good fortune?” Maybe they do. It’s more likely that they study more efficiently. Luckily, I have some tips to help you study more efficiently. It’s likely that some of these are obvious, but hopefully, you can gain some insight as to how they can help. 

  1. Pay Attention in Class

Not only is it more efficient, but it’s also a better way to learn. Instead of having to wade through the endless Google searches trying to find an answer to a question, you can ask the teacher about it during class. Not only do you have an answer to your question but the professor also recognizes you as someone who cares about the lesson. Now, you are more likely to be given extra leeway when something comes up. If you pay attention in class, you don’t need to teach the material to yourself outside of class, giving you more time to study what’s important.

  1. Teach someone

So, you think you understand the material. You’ve studied enough. You did the practice problems. Maybe you might not have done those things, but you think you understand the material well enough to pass the test. Then your friend asks you a question and you have no idea what they’re talking about. You thought you understood everything, but now you realize you barely understood it at all. Teaching someone else is a great way to recognize how much you know. You don’t even need another person, you can just explain it to an imaginary audience. 

Teaching someone takes less time than simply memorizing vague ideas, and allows you to retain the information better. Also, you get to teach other people as well, giving them help too.

  1. Find a good study environment

This is entirely subjective. Some people love studying in quiet locations, some people love studying in public places. Before picking your study environment, think about what you need. Be careful, studying in groups may make it more likely that you and others in your group will plagiarize, since you will be inspired by those around you and also give them help.

  1. Handwrite your notes

My handwriting sucks. Most of the time I can barely read my notes after class. There are arrows, bullet points and drawings of flowers all in the same line. However, this study shows that memory improves when you handwrite notes rather than type them.

However, there are benefits to typing, such as legibility, and sharing them with others. However, if you’re focused on minimizing study time, handwriting is the way to go.

  1. Prioritize

In order to minimize the amount of time you spend studying, you need to think about what you need to study before anything else. Check with the teacher or with other students to see what is actually being covered on the test. 

Also, don’t study what you already know; prioritize what you don’t know. It might feel good to reaffirm basic knowledge, and you want to make sure that you know what you think you know. However, it is much more valuable to look over what you don’t know instead.

Keep in mind, this is mostly subjective. What helps you may be completely different. I hope that this helps you study more effectively and spend more time enjoying yourself.