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Mr Chen's anecdotes.

How to Study for Long Hours

On the days leading up to exams, we find ourselves starting to spend more and more time studying. I recall feeling burnt out on certain days. Nothing would make sense to me, and I would pore over the same lines over and over again.

Over time, I fine-tuned my study routine to help me stay focused and productive when I had to study for long hours. Here are some tips that may benefit you as you start to prepare for your own exams.

Tip 1: Ten mini goals can help you accomplish one large goal

A larger goal can seem daunting and you may feel dreadful even before you begin studying.

Try breaking up your goals into smaller, achievable ones. For example, you can portion up a chapter into 5 different subtopics. Instead of aiming to complete the entire chapter in one seating, aim to master 3 subtopics on the first day, and the remaining 2 on the next day.

You can study subtopics from multiple subjects in a day just to switch things up. This helps with preventing yourself from pigeonholing into just one subject and to keep things refreshing.

Tip 2: Make a list of all your mini goals, and check them off as you're done

Checking off a list is possibly one of the most rewarding feelings ever.

Visually, a list helps you gauge your progress for the day too.

Tip 3: Prepare rewards

...But be reasonable with your rewards!

In the past, I would allow myself to watch an hour of How I Met Your Mother at the end of a long study day. Throughout the day, I would tell myself that I will get my rightfully earned reward, guilt-free relaxation hour at the end of the day.

This system would not have worked out if I let myself watch an hour of the show after every 2 hours of studying. So make sure that you find the right balance that works for you.

Tip 4: Declutter and clean your desk BEFORE you start your long studying session

This helps you create a comfortable space where you can study at for a long period of time.

Besides, by having clutter on your desk, you are opening yourself up to the possibility of procrastination. You may get annoyed by the clutter and start to clean it up in the middle of your long study session. By the time you're done, you realise that you've spent a precious few hours on something that is NOT studying.

Tip 5: Do one thing at a time

This is an extension of tip 1. Breaking up your large goal into many mini goals may make your to do list look extremely long and intimidating.

One way to mitigate this is to prioritise using the Eisenhower Matrix. I've used this a lot, it's insanely effective!

Basically, prioritise your tasks according to 4 matrices:

  1. Important and urgent (do it now) - these include studying for topics that are going to be tested for an upcoming WA that is really round the corner, or completing a tutorial that is due tomorrow

  2. Important but not urgent (schedule it to be done some other time) - these include assignments that are due next week, or a WA that is scheduled for the next month

  3. Urgent but not important (get someone else to do these, or just do it some other time) - these may seem important because they aren't. If your friend texts you to ask for a solution for a certain math question, it can wait, or he can ask someone else who is more available. Learn to say no or let someone else handle this.

  4. Not urgent and not important (do it later or just delete it from your list) - like playing MLBB. Yes, I am looking at you.

Here's a copy you can use:

eisenhower matrix

Or download the PDF here.

Eisenhower Matrix
Download • 11.22MB

You don't necessarily need printed copies- hand drawn ones work as effectively. I usually just draw my own quadrants in my notebook.

Tip 6: Keep some healthy snack at arms length

We may find ourselves hungry during study sessions, BUT ask yourself honestly - are you hungry or are you bored?

Having some snacks near you can prevent yourself from getting distracted and leaving the table for a full meal.

Consider stocking healthy snacks like pretzels, nuts, or fruits.

Studying for long hours is doable

But do remember to take adequate breaks and having rest days in between. These tips have helped me stay focused during my longer study sessions, and I hope that they help you too.

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