7 Study Secrets that Your Teachers Don’t Want You to Know

We’ve received a few requests asking how to learn some boring subjects like History more effectively. Today let Jia Ying share with you her 7 ‘secret’ study tips that have helped her thrive in her academic study here in the United States. We hope you guys enjoy & benefit from her study tips.

Are you spending a huge amount of time studying only to still struggle in class and especially on your exams? If you do, you’re not alone. I felt as much frustrated as you are now, but then I discover that we can actually study less yet learn more, which many call it simply as “study smart”. Here are my top 7 study tips that helps me tremendously so far.

1. Set goals

Everything begins with a goal. Whether you wanna improve your Biology or Maths grade or even get a perfect 2400-point in the SAT. I believe you can achieve literally anything you want by first setting it as your goal. It’s the first stepping stone toward your academic success and possibly anything in life. By the way, you’ve probably heard of setting SMART goals? If so, you are well on the right track.

2. Eat the frog first

Imagine your mom prepares your breakfast for you in a plate with all your favorite food like cheesesteak and buttermilk biscuits but an ugly-looking, deep fried green frog on it. She tells you if you’re going to eat that breakfast, you have to finish everything on your plate. What would you do? Would you eat your favorite food first and leave that disgusting crunchy frog last or would you do otherwise?

If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.
Mark Twain

When it comes to studying, “frogs” are usually the most difficult lessons or subjects you don’t want but actually need to study and my suggestion is always to tackle those “frogs” first. If you’re not good at Maths (we all are, aren’t we?), study it first. If you can’t stand boring History lessons, study it now. And you get it.

This is also an excellent way to deal with procrastination as if you don’t tackle your “frogs” first, you leave rooms for procrastination later on. As a matter of fact, when you eat your frogs first in the morning, you have your best energy for it, and therefore, you will get it done much faster than if you do it at the middle of the night. What’s more, you will gain momentum and go through the day with the satisfaction knowing that the worst things have been behind you.

In short, always always prioritize your study materials so that the most important and difficult are finished first.

3. Focus, Focus & Focus

Now that you already tackle your most important and hardest tasks first, let the power of concentration be of benefit to you.

Oftentimes I see so many people “studying” while watching Youtube, surfing Facebook or talking to friends. I know some of you were born with the gift of multitasking but in reality, most of us aren’t. Many studies and researches show that a quality 30- or even 15-minute with intense focus produces far better results than a 2 or 3-hour half learning, half playing.

focusYour environment plays a crucial role in your ability to focus. So in order to maintain your concentration, you must choose a study environment that best suits you and make sure you will be free from distractions including Facebook messages, television, phone calls and other interruptions.

This is the #1 super study skill that I’ve ever learned. So if you only learn one thing from these study tips, remember this: Focus.

4. Divide and Conquer

I’ve seen many friends who spend almost their whole semester playing and eventually find themselves extremely stressful when the exam is coming (are you the same?). My suggestion is: Don’t wait until the last minutes. Start small but early.

Having said that, you don’t need to overwhelm yourselves with your heavy textbooks. Perhaps, you’ve heard of the 80/20 rule (Pareto Principle) which basically says 80% of your results come from just 20% of your efforts. Well, it applies for our study as well. So spend time on what matters and learn the most important facts first. You don’t wanna simply read the whole materials from the beginning till the end. Instead, you may wanna break those information down into chunks that your brain can quickly process and store. I personally suggest reading the introductory and summary paragraph as well as the first and last sentence of the rest of the paragraphs to get the most from any articles or textbooks.

Besides, when listening to your teachers’ lectures, take good notes (then try to summarize the main ideas in your own words) and more importantly, mark those information that they mention or emphasize more than once. They are undoubtedly the most important materials and would very likely appear in your exam papers.

5. Memorize by Association

Have you ever tried to read your subject materials over and over in the hope of remembering it, but then you forget it anyway? I did too. What I discover that helps to make new materials stick in my mind, thereby significantly improving my performance during exams is to associate meaning to what I’m learning. For instance, if you wanna remember 5 U.S. Presidents during the Vietnam conflict, who were Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. You can associate each President within a room in your home. Your bedroom can be Eisenhower. Your living room can be Kennedy and so on. In your mind, you can then mentally go through each room in that order remembering these Presidents as you go. Of course you can be creative and have fun in creating these pictures in your mind using analogy or metaphor.

Interestingly, our brain finds images easier to remember than mere facts. So try to associate what you learn with images of things that you like. The more animated and unforgettable those images are, the longer you will remember what you’re trying to learn. Context and emotion improve our ability to remember.

Extra tip: a quick glance through your learning materials right before you go to sleep might help you remember them faster and longer.

6. Learn through Application

I believe there are two ways of learning: passive and active. Passive learning means you passively digest what is taught by your teachers by merely reading and listening to your lectures or podcasts followed by some attempt to memorize them. Unfortunately, memorization doesn’t last long. A better way of learning, I believe, is the so-called “active learning” where you involve yourself actively during the learning process. Best of all, you then take this knowledge to a new level by application.

Wanna learn more the Vietnam war? How about making a trip to visit the Wall?

Many suggest that you can learn a lot more by teaching or explaining new knowledge to others. And I totally agree with that. Another way of active learning is to make use of your senses in learning. For example, instead of reading through lengthy and sort of boring articles about the Vietnam War, how about seeing its photos or watching interesting documentaries about what was happening in the conflict? You can even take a step further by dropping by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial paying tributes to the servicemen and women who sacrificed themselves for the country. This trip would not only become an unique learning experience of your own but also inspire you to learn more about the conflict. What a way to learn!

7. Believe in Yourself

Each and every single one of us were born genius. Yes, you read that correctly: you are a genius! There is nothing you can’t learn; nothing could stop you from getting good grades and success in school. You have the potential to learn and achieve whatever learning results you want.

Grades are just Letter… Study to learn, not just to pass. – Scott Young

I’ve heard of stories of many students who make excellent preparations but eventually don’t do well in the exams. There seems a little yet sometimes significant gap between success and failure. And self-confidence is probably the key to avoid such pity. So my last suggestion is to believe in yourself, take it easy and just try your utmost best. At the end of the day, grades don’t necessarily reflect your IQ or success in life.

One of the best ways to increase your self-confidence and best prepare for your exams is to take as many mock tests as you can. For example, you are to take the Asvab, you may wanna do some full length practice tests in advance.

Study Smart rather than Study Hard

These are just the top 7 study tips that I and some other top students use to ace any exams. If you’re really keen on studying smarter and achieving better grades, I recommend Learn more and Study less video course created by Scott Young, from which I’ve learned lots of useful tips and achieved great success in my academic career.

I hope you readers of thevietnamwar.info find my study tips helpful. I wish you guys all the best in your study.


Vietnam War Timeline

Show main events