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It is surprising that during 14 years of school studies, we are never taught how to study effectively. Every day, new research is being conducted on education, teaching skills and learning methods which we can use to learn scientific ways for note taking, textbook reading, memorizing and effective reviewing. We offer you 12 scientific study skills that can help you get sure-shot success in JEE Main:

1.Get into the right mood like Pavlov’s dog

Classical conditioning experiment by Pavlov made dogs salivate as soon as they heard the bell ring – in anticipation of food. If you study the same subject at same time and same place, your brain makes the association and gets trained accordingly. Later on, you just have to follow the clock to the place, and you will automatically get in the mood to study the subject within 10 minutes. Works like a charm for subjects you hate or dislike!

2. Shorter study sessions work better than marathon sessions

Psychologists have found that students learn as much in one-hour sessions spread over four days as they learn in one six-hour marathon session. It means that students could cut their study time by at least 30% by using a well-planned study schedule or time table. When you study for less time, imposed time restriction makes your brain work more efficiently. Most of the askIITians report that they are able to cram much more a day before exam than a regular day – which just confirms this particular research conclusion. Besides, it is believed that during study breaks, mind works to absorb whatever you have learned automatically, without any conscious effort on your part. Hence, for intense memorization sessions like when you are trying to learn dates and events, names of countries and their capitals, a foreign language or math formulae, you should not study for more than 20 to 30 minutes at a stretch.

3. Sync your school timetable and home study schedule

When a teacher covers a topic in class, students should study it as soon as they can after coming from school, revise the topic and prepare revision notes. When there is a test in class, use the time before school to quickly memorize questions, brush up facts and learn diagrams.

4. Smart work is better than hard work

It is a maxim often used in corporate offices. Of course, it is applicable to students too. Attention you pay to the subject and alertness of your mind while studying matters more than the time you spend on it. Most common strategies to keep yourself alert are:

  • Minimize distractions. 2-3 hours of studying in a quiet place without any disturbance is better than 10 years of studying with noise of TV blaring somewhere in the room, running errands in between studies, and people shouting in your ears. Of course, you cannot control all your family but you may adjust your time table to study early in morning or late at night when everyone else is quiet.
  • You can start with the most difficult or boring subject when you are fully alert and pick up an easier or most interesting one when you are feeling down.
  • Take 10-minute breaks between subjects to re-orient your brain and reward yourself for work well done. If you really feel like taking a break, take one. Do not waste time watching clock to take the break.

5. Do not study when you are sleepy

Everybody has a particular time when one is too sleepy to study anything. Sitting with books during that time is a total waste of time. For me, 3 pm is the time when I get quite slothful – about two hours after I have lunch. For some others, early morning is the time when they just can’t wake up to read anything coherently. If you have too much backlog to cover, just do something light at the time – like clearing your desk, sorting your notes or arranging your school bag to let the phase pass.

6. Do not schedule similar subjects one after another

If there is not enough space between radio waves, you get interference. Similarly, brain waves need to be spaced out too. It has been found that it is better put contrasting subjects one after another rather than clubbing similar subjects together. It means that studying Physics after Mathematics might not be a good idea. You can sandwich History or English Literature in between and your brain will able to absorb all three subjects much better.

7. Note taking in class

When you jot down lecture notes in class, underline the ideas that he says are important. Mark the ideas that the teacher says will be discussed later in detail with a ‘*’. Also write down common mistakes you teacher tells you about as ‘#-points’. Write sentences that start with ‘therefore’ and ‘in essence’ in a separate line as they are often the summary of what has been taught in class. Examples given by teachers are often most important for school exams. In subjects like Math, teacher’s examples are often most important. Writing down notes in the last few minutes of class is often a speed game. As teachers run out of time, they pack most content in last 5-10 minutes of class. You may have to keep writing after the class finishes jotting down everything.

8. Textbook reading method that actually works – OK4R

Dr. Walter Pauk has devised the OK4R method, which can help you pack more information through power reading. Here is how you go about it:

  • O for Overview: In the first glance, just read the headings, sub-headings, introductory paragraph, and summary at the end of the chapter. It will give you general idea of what is included in the chapter.
  • K for Key ideas: Now, go back to the beginning of the chapter and try to skim through the key ideas. First sentence of each paragraph, italics and bold-type text, tables, pictures and diagrams, bulleted sections and itemizations often present key ideas of the chapter. Try to comprehend them quickly.
  • R1 for Reading the topic or chapter from beginning to end: Now that you already know what is being discussed, read through the entire chapter and see full explanation of the ideas that have been presented and how they have been explained.
  • R2 for Recall: Now put your book aside and write down major points of what you have read and make your notes in few words or sentences. Immediate recall will only take a minute or two but doubles up retention time of the topic you are studying. Make notes as suggested using the ‘best note making system’ as suggested below.
  • R3 for Reflect: Now that you have kept the material in the storage unit of your memory it, sift it to put it in your permanent memory. Think over it and try to find significance of what you have read and its relationship with other topics you have learnt.
  • R4 for Review or Revision: On weekends, you can test yourself on what you have learned throughout the week. In schools, there can be tests and quizzes that help you go through your notes again. These time-to-time reviews or revisions help you to fix the information forever.

9. Color your books

As opposed to the popular idea, neat books don’t always mean that you are a good student. They also show that books may be ‘unused’. You can colour main ideas in red, dates and numbers in blue and supporting facts in yellow. Also mark circles, stars, boxes, and hash in margins, wherever needed, to make revisions easier. But colour your personal books only. Otherwise, library will ban you and your friends will never loan a book to you again.

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