In our past articles, Zenith has shared with you tips on how to tackle your general paper essays, how to secure your distinction for A-Level, as well O-Level Biology, and how to score for Mathematics at the H1 level. We’ve even shared more general articles like 10 study hacks to boost your productivity, 10 effective strategies to boost your command of the English language, and the best memorizing techniques for students. In this article, we will be giving you tips on how you can study smarter. While hard work is immeasurably important and perhaps even the key to most successes, studying smart can propel you to even greater heights and can drastically streamline your learning process. As always, Zenith has got your back. At one of the top tuition centres in Singapore, we have put together a comprehensive list of 4 ways you can study smarter.
#1: Stay organized, and on task
Whether you are taking your O-Levels or A-Levels, there will be a never-ending list of things to complete. During the school term, you will have to conquer numerous lectures, homework, and CCA sessions, and on top of that, multiple weighted assessments or term assessments. Your to-do list is plentiful, to say the least, and it’s very common to find students feeling completely overwhelmed and start falling behind. As you have probably heard from your seniors, falling behind is extremely risky because this means you’d be letting your work snowball. As the school term breezes by, term assessments quickly roll in and you will be shocked by how little time you have left to prepare for them! Thus, Zenith believes that it is crucial for you to have a to-do list and comprehensive study schedule to always keep yourself on track!
Nowadays, bullet journaling, more commonly known as “bujo” has been trending. “Bujo” is a method of personal organisation, consisting of scheduling, reminders, to-do lists, and other organisational tasks in a single notebook (Fig 1.). Bullet journaling is an excellent, yet trendy (and aesthetic!) way for you to keep up with the hectic academic year, and it doesn’t have to be expensive as well! You can always head to the nearest bookstore to grab a simple notebook, which will be your “journal” for the rest of the year! Muji has really simple and plain notebooks that are completely up to you to customize as you wish. However, if you would like a notebook that already has all the templates, you can easily get pre-made planners from the bookstore as well.
Fig 1. Example of a weekly spread from @studyfel on ig
How to start planning
We find it most effective to plan a general overview of the month before going in-depth on a weekly basis.
- Jot down important test dates, the chapters tested for each subject’s test, and homework deadlines in your journal. If you’re feeling up to it, you can even create a week-by-week or month-by-month view of the topics that you know your school will cover
- Create a weekly to-do list, and allocate tasks for each day
- Upon completion of each task, indicate that it’s done using a cross, tick, or whatever floats your boat! This might seem like a redundant task, but trust us, it can give you a great feeling of accomplishment that can help to spur you on.
We’ve even written up an article that touches on how you can create a bulletproof revision plan for A-Levels here! However, if you are more tech-savvy and would prefer to have all of this planning done online, there are free online applications like the very popular app, notion, which you can utilize to your benefit as well (Fig 2. and Fig 3.)! Notion even has other built-in templates to help you organize and streamline your life. Here at Zenith, we’re incredibly big fans of Notion (not a sponsored post)!
Fig 2. Sample of a to-do list on Notion
Fig 3. Sample of a study timetable on Notion
After you have it all planned out, remember to stick to your schedule! This is incredibly important as you can rest assured that you’re right on task, giving you a sense of control, especially in times of stress and uncertainty. It can also improve your focus, organization, and productivity!
#2: Do not blindly memorise
As we have mentioned in most of our articles, do not blindly memorise! Rote memorising of content often results in a lack of in-depth understanding. It can even result in poor or wrong impressions of certain concepts and it will be difficult for you to connect the dots between your new and old knowledge. When faced with questions during the exams themselves, you will find yourself not knowing how to properly apply the content to answer the question! Many examination papers no longer require you to directly regurgitate content because examiners wish to see your thought process and want to test your ability to apply content knowledge to real-life situations. As such, your ability to evaluate, analyze and critically think during exams using the content you know will be paramount to your success.
To avoid blind memorisation, try to implement different ideas like:
- Drawing mind maps. Mind maps are useful in helping you make connections between different topics and you can even see the overall structure of any given topic. They make difficult concepts easier to digest and it boosts both your creativity and presenting skills. Remember to use your own words when creating them! Summarise key ideas and give yourself a general overview of each topic.
- Using post-it notes. Succinctly summarise lengthy paragraphs in your school notes on post-it notes. As post-it notes are generally very small, it forces you to only pick out the key ideas while leaving behind irrelevant information. This encourages you to integrate central ideas in a meaningful way. You can even get cute ones from Daiso to brighten up your mugging session; get creative!
- Teaching a sibling or friend. This is an extremely effective way of revision because you’d need to thoroughly understand something in order to teach it to someone else!
- Practicing questions. This tip goes without saying but we must reiterate its importance of it. When you practice on exam papers or even topic assignments, remember to be deliberative and efficient with it. The more focused your sessions are, the more quickly you’ll learn concepts by hard and always remember to review these practices once you’re done to clarify remaining misconceptions. Practice makes perfect!
When studying your content for the humanities like history, draw out timelines, and jot down the key events that occurred. Due to the choke load of events, it is easy to get confused. Hence, it is more useful for you to come up with a visual representation than to try and squeeze all the dates into your mind. The flow of time is extremely important in history and events often follow one another, so try to see the bigger picture of cause and effect. Link up events or concepts and understand how they impact one another. This applies to every other humanities subject as well. If you’re studying Literature, for example, a tip we have is for you to study by scenes. Your teacher should already have gone through the important scenes in the book or play and comprehensively analyzed these scenes with you. In the case that they have not, look for scenes that are rich in emotion, have deep meaning, and/or are a turning point in the story. Break down quotes from these scenes and try writing up an analysis for each of them. This will really save you time during your examinations, because you have already gone through the thought process of analysing the quote, and said analysis will come to you easier! This gives you more time to pen down your answers or spend time thinking about other components!
Maths and the Sciences
Unfortunately, there is no way around maths and sciences than to practice, practice and practice. Mastery of maths comes especially with practice. Rather than just memorising your formulas, practice doing questions that force you to apply them! Pull up topical practices that your school has given you or those found in assessment books and make sure you familiarise yourself with the different types of questions that normally come up. The ten-year series is an excellent resource for this. After you have attempted your practices, Zenith strongly advises that you make a thorough review of the work done. Then, make sure to clarify any remaining doubts with your teachers/tutors. Here at Zenith, our tutors always prioritize their students. Our students are always free to book online or in-person consultations with our tutors. Our tutors here are also available on various messaging channels like WhatsApp for their students to quickly drop their questions; they will always strive to answer your questions as soon as possible because we understand the urgency for clarification (especially during the examination period)!
#3: Pomodoro method
Another extremely effective way to study is by using the Pomodoro method, which we have already covered in our previous article here. The Pomodoro method is based on intervals, where a student would study for set intervals of time. Giving yourself enough breaks is crucial to ensuring that you do not burn out. Study for one hour each time, taking a 10-minute break after each hour. Try to condition your body to get used to such a schedule, and you will find it easier to settle down for a study session.
If you are looking for a conducive environment to study at, check out our article here, or you can always head down to our nearest centre if you’re a Zenith student. As one of the top secondary and junior college tuition centres in Singapore, we boast a total of 4 centres at Buona Vista (Rochester Mall), Potong Pasir (The Venue Shoppes), Tan Kah Kee (Coronation Plaza), and Paya Lebar (KINEX)! Each and every one of our centres have a designated study area specifically for our students! Don’t believe us? You can check out our Potong Pasir centre tour here. Our study areas are fully air-conditioned and furnished with comfortable tables and chairs for a productive study session! Besides our awesome furniture, we also have brimming snack bars for you to feast on whenever you get a little too hungry after your mugging sessions (Fig 4.).
Fig 4. What Zenith has at the Potong Pasir branch
#4: Ask when in doubt
Some students may find it embarrassing to approach their teachers for help or find it too much of a hassle to book consultation slots. However, it is important that you clarify any doubts that you have early on to prevent snowballing misconceptions. Avoid assuming certain concepts or formulas when unsure! We understand that it might be very challenging to book consultations with your tutors in school due to everyone’s jam-packed schedule, especially during the examination season when all students rush to book slots with their teachers. This is why Zenith’s tutors are always available for consultations. Our hardworking tutors make it a point to make time from their busy schedules to host consultations with their students! Here, you will never have to worry about scrambling for consultation slots. You can even contact your Zenith tutors via WhatsApp any day of the week and they’ll get back to you as quickly as they can. Aside from consultations, the Zenith experience also comprises succinct notes compiled weekly by our meticulous tutors! You can expect our tutors to be extremely familiar with the SEAB content requirements, so rest assured that you are in good hands! As a testament of our reliability, 66+% of students from our class of 2021 scored distinctions (across subjects) for their A-Level examinations, while 85+% of students scored distinctions (across subjects) for their O-Level examinations.
Here at Zenith, we understand the worries of committing to a tuition centre without experiencing lessons or looking through provided notes. This is why free trials are available for all our subjects, both at secondary and junior college levels at Zenith. At our free trials, you can expect full content notes and the complete Zenith experience. Sign up now to avoid disappointment because slots are very limited and get snatched up quickly (our J2 H2 Economics class for 2022 is already fully filled)! We look forward to seeing you in our lessons!