Studying on the Side? Be Smart About It


Many of us will have to pursue a course of study or qualification to assist in securing a new or bigger role. If you are going to invest a significant portion of your time and finances into your learning, then it goes without saying you want to maximise your gains.

See, it’s not just undergraduate students spending a significant part of their day studying. Employees who want to improve their chances for a promotion, or are attempting to up skill for a career change, are attending part time study outside of working hours.

According to a report published by the London School of Business & Finance, almost half of UK workers want to change their careers. Two-thirds of those looking to change career are millennials, aged between 18 and 34. For most, a career change ultimately means retraining and refocussing time into related studies.

How to study smarter

  1. Create a schedule: Schedule specific topics for selected periods of time.

  2. Study in 25 minute blocks and take five-minute breaks in between each block. The key to productive study is not cramming in lots of information, but studying smarter in shorter bursts.

  3. Make more use of your senses, especially your visual senses. If you learn to associate certain colors with certain items it will serve as a memory aid.

  4. Learn by teaching. One of the most productive ways to truly understand something is to explain it to someone else. If you do join a study group of like-minded people, this method would be ideal.

Stay healthy when studying

  1. Focus on what you are eating and treat food as your fuel. On a day where you are planning to study, eat a whole grains based breakfast e.g. oatmeal, which aids with mental focus much more than a breakfast of refined carbohydrates e.g. white toast.

  2. Exercise frequently. Getting out into the fresh air and taking some form of exercise can boost your brain power and even your memory.

  3. Be social and join a study group. Social interactions can assist with suppressing distractions and studying in a group could give you new insights into your learning experience.

Coping with exam stress and anxiety

A significant aspect of studying effectively is the ability to cope with the stress and anxiety that students can experience in the lead up to an exam. According to Mental Healthy, the top five causes of exam anxiety are:

  1. Not getting into university based on poor exam results.

  2. Fears about sitting the actual exam.

  3. Pressure from parents to perform well.

  4. Not doing as well as friends.

  5. Not getting a good job afterwards.

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