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How can I study more effectively? 

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I hate studying. When I try to study I am able to concentrate for 15-20 minutes the most and then I find something else to do. I manage to make average grades from what I retain in class and with the little studying I manage to do. But I am tired of being average. I do find flash cards work for definitions but I am a nursing student they can only go so far. Any tips?


Kudos for trying to increase your student productivity. Here are my 12 tricks to study effectively.


Know your purpose.

Scan the content and zero in on what is most important to achieve the top grade. Know exactly what you have to know, how many items to memorize, how many problem sets to solve. Quantify – only by being objective will you increase your productivity.

Limit studying time.

Do not plan to study for a whole afternoon or for 6 hours non-stop. Thinking of studying in terms of objectives or small chunks of time, say 20-25 minutes. But ensure those small chunks of time are 100% studying, no smartphones, internet, TV or banter allowed.

Select the best sources.

If there are high-yield versions of textbooks, pre-made notes optimized for retention, mnemonics collections, essential problem sets (and solutions), then use them. Don't reinvent the wheel.

Feynman technique.

Learn new concepts like if you were explaining them to a complete beginner. Better yet, do it as you draw diagrams, schematics and notes on a blank sheet of paper.

Embrace memorization.

Some people say that studying is about understanding, not memorizing. That's almost always wrong unless you're studying Maths, Physics or any hard science. Otherwise, memorization (or even rote memorization) is exactly what you need to do.

Embrace the idea of self-learning. 

I'm a deep believer in the idea of learning things by yourself. There is no other way, really, just ideas of learning systems to complement learning by yourself. Teachers may open doors but you need to come in yourself.

Use flashcards + spaced repetition.

It is the most effective way to memorize things, hands down. Anki is an excellent app to start learning anything using these method. Method of loci alone or combined with spaced repetition is also a valuable tool.

Practice and test yourself.

The best way to learn is to use the knowledge you are trying to acquire. You'll figure out your weak spots or any frailties in your understanding of complex concepts. There are tons of resources online to test any kind of subject.

Fight stress and anxiety by planning your approach carefully.

It's one thing to consciously study as little as you can to pass. It's another thing to carelessly ignore your responsibilities and hope that everything will be alright. Plan according to your goals and stick to the plan.

Cultivate the right mindset.

There are some essential qualities to all productive students. I like to highlight 4 of them: Diligence, Discipline, Direction and Durability. Together they translate in doing exactly what you have to do daily, no matter what.

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