Hello fellow peers! This academic year has been a rollercoaster for all of us. Shifting to the online mode of study was an uphill task, but at the end of the day, it worked out fine for everyone.
With the ICSE and ISC results out, I went on to score the highest marks in my batch, with a percentage of 98.4% in my top five subjects. So, I would like to utilize this opportunity to share with all of you, my journey up the ladder.
To those of you who think that I have always been a nerd, well, I haven’t. Don’t believe me? Let’s bust this myth then.
Here are my class five grades:
Now let’s have a look at my current grades:
Trust me yet?
The above pictures make it quite evident that marks don’t run in my veins. I don’t want to brag about myself by showing off my mark sheet, but all I intend to make you believe is that you can do it too. Being academically adept is not something people are born with, it’s a skill that can be worked upon and, with time, you’ll definitely ace it.
You’ll find thousands of videos on this topic on the internet guaranteeing you a 100% in your examination, then why listen to me? Well, for starters, I believe that perfection is an illusion, and that there is always scope for improvement. Moreover, I belonged to the category of the average students, so the techniques I followed to improve my learning capacity have brought me here, into being a widely accepted ‘topper’. Therefore in this article, I want to share the practical study techniques that I have personally used which have worked wonders for me.
Studying fifteen hours a day makes not only Jack, but everybody a dull boy. Neither does studying one night before the exam create a genius. As the headline suggests, study less, but be consistent. Set goals. Study as little as two pages a day, but do it every day. That’s what I do. Consistency beats quantity. Don’t feel like studying? Study just one page and call it a day. Once you get into the habit of doing it daily, it’ll not feel like a mammoth task. Take a break if you’re out on a holiday or are meeting your friends or family, but make the other days count. Two pages a day is not much, and once you’ve entered the zone, raise the number to three. By following this routine, you’ll be able to cover your entire syllabus, and you’d still be left with enough time to revise, thus reducing the burden.
For those who are unfamiliar with this term, the Pomodoro technique is when you study for 25 minutes straight and then take a 5 minutes break. While setting goals for the day, I would break them down in terms of these Pomodoro study sessions. For instance, if I plan to do three pages in a day, I would segregate it out in such a way that I do one page per session, that is one page in 25 minutes followed by a 5-minute break. By applying this, it doesn’t feel like a lot, and I’m able to achieve it in time. Half an hour for just one page might seem a lot, but memorize that one page so well that the next time you sit down to revise it, you’ll probably be done in no time. Set a timer, put down your phone, and get to work!
HOW TO LEARN? This is a million-dollar question that remains debatable. The answer to this is not mugging up the text, but comprehending it. Let’s assume you’re learning about the Second World War. Instead of rattling off the text repeatedly, attempt to paint a picture in your head. Create an image of Hitler, his army entering Poland, the firing of bullets, the killing of men, everything. Envision what you read, and as you go further, keep adding more elements to that picture. This way you are less likely to forget what you learn.
Revision is a must. No matter how well you learn it the first time, recapitulating is necessary. Research shows that students tend to forget 80% of what they learn in a matter of 20 days. It is scientifically proven that our brains forget data that they feel is irrelevant and won’t be needed again. Thus the importance of review comes into picture. Revision helps to retain better. If it takes you half an hour to prepare one page, then it won’t take more than 10 minutes to revise it. By going through the same text, time and again, you indent it in your memory. Make it a point to go over a chapter every 2 months for it to stick with you.
Why do schools, coaching centres, and tuitions conduct tests frequently? To assess you and to gauge your progress. In the case of your self-study subjects, after you finish studying a chapter, turn to the exercises and answer the given questions. Not only do you familiarize yourself with the type of questions that can be asked, but you would also know the part of the chapter you’re struggling with. This acts as a good way of recalling the matter previously learnt. Write the answers on paper or speak them verbally, but the resolve should be to do it.
Don’t be that person who is only focused on getting high grades. Balance studies with other aspects of life. Play sports, attend your buddy’s birthday, watch a movie. It could be that you don’t feel like studying sometimes. Well then, don’t! It’s completely okay to take a break now and then, but not a lengthy one or it will break your flow. Studying for 2 hours on usual days is adequate, if you devote all your attention to it.
We procrastinate by telling ourselves that we still have a lot of time to prepare for the examination. This lingers on until we eventually face the paucity of time. Let’s first understand Parkinson’s law, which states that work expands to fill the time that we allocate for its completion. To tackle this issue, we need to create artificial deadlines for ourselves. At the beginning of every month, plan out how many chapters you need to complete by its end. For example, if you wish to prepare 6 chapters, then split it further into a chapter to be done in 5 days. Depending on the content of the chapter, divide the pages in terms of Pomodoro sessions. This way, the work doesn’t seem much and the whole month is efficiently planned.
Bonus Tip: Just in case you haven’t studied a chapter for the examination scheduled for the very next day, focus on revising the chapters you have prepared. Secure as many marks as you can, keeping the remaining chapters for the last. If you have time left, then just glance through them.
So, I strongly reiterate – perfection is an illusion, and that there is always scope for improvement. As I mentioned above, this isn’t something you’re born with or runs in your genes, it’s a skill that you can improve with time and practice. Whether you make handwritten notes, highlight or underline the text, or make flashcards, it doesn’t really matter unless it proves worthy.
Everyone has their unique potential, and I hope that the above-mentioned tips and techniques help you to maximize yours. Wish you an exciting journey up the ladder!