The air around is full of assertions like hard work pays: high grades need toil. Many such unending pieces of advice and suggestions are put forth once asked how to study.

Let us today try to craft an effective strategy which will give the intended result and that which is doable.

Knowing one's own effective study strategy or infact developing it over a period of time by deliberations is the key to success in one's college career or studies at every level. The most important thing to keep in mind is the restricted period of time. Very few people have a proper study plan. Most others end up studying less and stressing more about the outcome of the exams.

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Understanding the core

“ Failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” - Benjamin Franklin.

Creating a study plan

The most important requirement is a tailored study plan, to meet one's needs. A plan will not only aid in maintaining a proper study schedule but one would get a clear sight of what needs to be done and when. It can be done by listing down the names of the subjects and topics, sorting out the priorities of studying each topic and charting out the number of days each topic demands. This will be a plan to study smarter not harder and get more done in less time.

Take control

After having a plan at hand one can take control of one’s to-do list, build a routine and focus that lets us get stuff done on one’s own terms. It would be great to watch your grades go up without the need to work all hours of the day or night. One can have a happier, less stressed, more successful time at school, college, university !!!

Bird’s eye view

One must understand the study plan made, not expecting it to be a minute by minute timetable but must have an approach of a birds eye view of the road ahead.

Normally a student starts with studying, learning the topic then starts looking at previous year question papers. For those who intend to bang on the success path, let's flip this on its head and get the best results. First start looking for real exam questions for that topic- maybe even attempting making smart educated guesses wherever they need to, then go back and revise the topic doing this they will have a much deeper sense of what they need to know and why and how they will endup applying it in their exams. This will aid in understanding the topic much better as ploughing a field before sowing.

If they are working on projects and assignments some past students' projects are available in the library or their incharge can make some sample model essays available. To know what exactly is expected of them and will be easier for them to deliver.

Ponder on these questions

When are your energy levels naturally highest?

“Schedule study blocks to take advantage of this biological prime time” as best selling author and past exam study expert Chris Bailey calls it.

Can you add in some regular spaced self testing ritual? It will definitely help in retrieving the concepts studied.

Have you left time for you? If a student is very ambitious, it's tempting to cram as much work into each day as possible.

Starting sure? If a student is new to a particular study routine, he should not aim for gold on day 1. One has to set sight conservatively, with a routine they know they can absolutely stick to even on low energy low motivation days. It is better to challenge ourselves slowly than set ourselves for failure and discouragement.

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Stay consistent

The key to studying and of course everything else is staying consistent. There is infact a very little disparity between everyone else and high performers and that is consistency. Consistency delivers high quality results.

Consistency makes us efficient and has better results. We can identify our areas of improvement quicker.

“Success isn’t about greatness, consistency and hard work leads to success, greatness will come.”- Dwayne Johnson.


While studying, whenever our concentration breaks we would lose valuable time refocusing. Multitasking is tempting but monotasking is being disciplined about giving full attention to the task at hand. Single tasking or monotasking needs taking control of distractions as much as one can.

Take control of your phone, put it on airplane mode, get the phone off your desk and OUT OF SIGHT. Why out of sight because even if you are making an effort to ignore the ting and buzz every time someone messages you this avoidance drains you and motive is lost.

Methods of learning

This has been referred to in one of the previous points, of first seeing the previous year or model question papers just eyeing the questions then going to the actual concept.

Study effectively with memory science

Students can be bad at predicting whether their learning was effective. But studies have shown students' performance transformed, time and again, when they start to apply the principles of learning to their studies.

‘Pull it out, don’t push it in’ it means the best learning happens when one tries to recall information.

It is a principle known to psychologists as ‘retrieval practice’ sometimes known as ‘active recall’. So don’t just push the information over and over again by re-reading, highlighting or taking notes, this is so because you may feel you are learning but you will quickly forget what you have studied. Focus on pulling the information out of the memory test yourself on what you know after reading the concept.

spaced repetition and its power

As per the forgetting curve developed by German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus, even if we are learning with recall practice, our memory will fade overtime. The solution is when we are doing retrieval practice it should feel tough, but not impossibly so. If one is struggling to remember more than half of the topic one is studying, one probably needs to back up a step, re-read your notes again, or break the topic down into smaller chunks and prepare it again one at a time.

The testing should not feel too hard. Don’t do it all in one day, but spread it out, with intervals in between this is known to psychologists as spaced learning. Neuroscientists can even observe the positive impact of spaced learning at the levels of neurons. This doesn't mean giving extra time. We can allot study time over a spread of days. There are many ways to do this. In the process we should work on building up our memory. In fact retrieval and spaced learning is already doing it for you. Test yourself repeatedly on a topic at all time intervals.

If you are getting 95%+ right space it out more, and leave a longer delay.

Structuring information in memory

Structuring the information in the memory means to retain it longer so if the topic does not make sense. Try sketching a spider diagram or mind map to see how it interrelates.

Having learnt in detail how to plan and minute details of study techniques, all that is to be done is going over this again and again and integrating it as a habit. Good grades will unfailingly give a student confidence, a strong work ethic and drive and determination. The added perks would be getting into a good college and receiving valuable scholarships, exciting jobs and sense of achievement.