Smart Study Tips

Smart Study Tips For Exams Like CSIR NET, GATE, DBT, ICMR – 10 Pointers

In this article, we will talk about the Smart Study Tips For Exams Like CSIR NET, GATE, DBT, ICMR and give you 10 pointers for the same.

How do you study smart? What are smart study tips? Well, reading a page in a book or chapter in a book and then not retaining any of the information is a waste of time and a great example of not studying smart. There is a lot of reading hacks or studying hacks online on how you can study smarter and remember everything you read or remember everything you study. But, from experience, most of them are not that effective.

In this article, we will detail the 10 most powerful & most effective strategies and smart study tips that you can use to study efficiently & ace exams like CSIR NET, GATE, DBT & ICMR without actually increasing your studying time.

Number 1: Advanced Information Processing

This is a memorization technique that has been picked up from Jim Kwick, who is a reading and memory improvement expert and it’s such a simple idea, but it’s incredible, how powerful it

is and how much time it saves. So, the key to memorizing what you read is, asking more questions.

If you read a book and you get to the end. When you think back and realize that you don’t remember anything you read- it’s because you’re not asking questions. This is a huge problem when reading big thick textbooks for exams that are not the most interesting and engaging books to read. But, simply asking yourself questions when reading, can exponentially increase the amount of information you retain from that book.

If you have just picked a book & started reading without regularly asking questions, then you are simply passively reading rather than actively reading. You’re wasting your time, and you’re not studying smart. You need to engage your mindset where you’re more receptive to the information you’re reading.

When reading a thick heavy textbook, it is ideal to make notes on a separate piece of paper with two sections. On the left side, make notes which are the most important snippets of the text which are considered useful for the exam, and on the right side, make a note of your own thoughts and questions on what you just read.

Jim Kwick talks about this method of retaining information from books quite often. He says that there are three main questions you should be writing down on the right side of the page.

The first question is “How can I use this?”. So, it forces you to link pieces of information from the book to the bigger picture. How does the information that you just read, align with the knowledge that you already know? What happens at this stage is that your brain is linking these new pieces of information to things that you already know and strengthening your neural network. Therefore, making it easier to remember in the future.

The second question is “When will I use this?”. What this question does is that- it adds urgency. When is your exam coming? Is it in two weeks or three weeks or in two months maybe? Often, when you’re reading a textbook, you’re just skimming through it passively because you’re not engaged in the reading. There’s no urgency there. The reason why so many students are cramming 24 hours before the exam is because there’s a sense of urgency. You know you need to get that material memorized before the exam the next day. So, that’s why you’re far more engaged, and by asking the question “when will I use this”, you’re adding artificial urgency to your studying because you do have a deadline- usually your exam date. But, it’s all too easy to forget this when you have weeks or even months to study before the exam.

The third question is “Why must I use this?”, because if it’s not a must then there’s nothing compelling you to do it. So, it could be because the notes that you just wrote down could be the answer to a certain question in the exam. For example, if your lecturer has asked you to read a certain chapter in a textbook, there’s usually a good reason why they’ve recommended it and that reason could be because the content in that chapter is likely to come up in the exam.

The second smart study tip is you should be using to study smarter is Spaced Repetition

Spaced repetition is where you memorize some information and then a period of time later, maybe a couple of days or one week later you come back to it and you re-read it to reinforce it in your memory.

This is the single most effective memorization technique as you can save so much time. You don’t have to spend hours trying to memorize each individual piece of information. Instead, you can just memorize it for a few minutes until you remember it, and then a few days later or sometimes, just a few hours later or sometimes, a few days later, you can come back to it and re-read it. A few days after that, you can do the same and it will save you so much time. Honestly, it’s a really stress-free way of memorizing information because you’re not spending hours getting stressed out over why you’re not able to memorize and retain your study material for these life science exams.

Space repetition takes advantage of what is called the “spacing effects” which was a phenomenon first identified by Hermann Ebbinghaus way back in 1885 in his book “Memory- a contribution to experimental psychology” which suggests that active recall with increasing time intervals helps the brain process and retain information. So when trying to memorize some of your study material, you might read the material, then come back to it six hours later and then again, 24 hours later and then after that, you might come back to it in three days. As soon as you start to solidify the information into your memory, the periods in between the time you read it will increase to seven days or even 14 days and upwards. Every time you come back to review the information, you’ll realize that you’ll start to remember the material better each time to the point where if you had a question in the exam, you’d be able to remember everything perfectly.

One thing to remember while using this memorization technique is that you need to be organized and start preparing for your exams well in advance. Obviously, if you’re cramming in your revision for your exam tomorrow, this isn’t going to work as well.

The next smart study tip is Pareto Principle

The Pareto principle, also known as the 80-20 rule suggests that 80% of outcomes result in 20% of the causes. So, for example, it’s very likely that 80% of the score that you get is from 20% of your studying. So, you need to prioritize this 20%.

But, what exactly does this mean? When you’re studying, there are some tasks that you’ll be doing that are not that important-they won’t directly help you with your final exams- and this is 80% of your study. These tasks might include background reading from your textbooks or completing homework assignments from the lecturer. Then, there are tasks that do directly affect your grades- this is the 20% of your studying that you need to prioritize. This involves answering past paper questions and consolidating & summarizing lecture notes for your exam. Your brain can only retain a certain amount of information before over time it starts to forget. In the late 19th century, German psychologist Herbert Ebbinghaus dubbed this “the forgetting curve”.

So, if you’re trying to make your studying as efficient as you can and study as smart as possible, it’s important that you spend more time focusing on the study areas that will directly affect your exam paper. This often means that you don’t need to read whole textbooks but, rather just focus on areas that you think or that you know will be in the exam.

Definement Technique

When you’re studying for an exam, it’s important that you put effort into truly understanding the information. It’s extremely difficult to memorize and recall something if you don’t understand what it is or what it means. If you forget some part of it, you’ll not be able to continue because you’ve only memorized the order of the words, not the actual meaning. So, what you should do is read the entire piece of information and rewrite it or reword it in your own words.

This technique is a good way of testing yourself to see whether you truly do understand something. Definement technique involves teaching the content that you have just learned to others. It involves four basic steps:

Step 1: Study. This is as simple as it gets. Just sit down and study a topic

Step 2: Here’s the interesting part- teach what you just learned, when you were studying to, someone with zero knowledge of the subjects but, make sure that your books and notebooks are closed. You should teach someone who hasn’t even read the basics of the field you’re studying. Simplify the concepts to the greatest extent possible. Use pen and paper or whiteboard to draw diagrams if necessary, just like a teacher would. You just have to assume that the person has no knowledge of the topic.

Step 3: Observe which parts of the topic you were able to explain well and which parts you couldn’t explain well. Now, go back to the book and try to understand the topics once again. If while you’re explaining the topic, you noticed that you used a lot of academic jargon, bear in mind that it may be because you didn’t understand the topic well enough. You should be able to explain complex topics in very basic terminology.

Step 4: Repeat the above-mentioned steps until you can explain the topic without any gaps or use of jargon in your explanation without opening your book.

Several studies have shown that students have better memory and recall abilities when they have the expectation that they will have to teach it to someone else, and it makes sense. Because a teacher not only has to learn the information for themselves, but they also have to know the material well enough such that they can explain it in very simple terms. They also have to be ready for any question that might be thrown at them. As Richard Feynman once said, “the first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool”.

Sharpen the axe

Now, this is from a quote that’s attributed to Abraham Lincoln, where he famously said that if you gave me six hours to chop down a tree, I would spend the first four sharpening the axe. He’s really talking here about the power of preparation. This definitely applies to learning anything as well.

Let’s say, you are studying for the CSIR NET exam and you wanna learn it a little bit better, reading a great book called “Make It Stick” or checking out our youtube channel for CSIR NET, GATE, DBT & ICMR exam preparation would be a great way of learning how to learn. You should spend a decent amount of time figuring out the meta-learning behind what you’re actually gonna learn, like- how you are going to learn the thing? Students should spend a little time exploring how to learn each topic or unit before actually starting the preparation for these exams. This could really accelerate your learning process.

CSIR NET Study Tips

Another smart study tip is to use hacks to optimize your focus

Now, whenever you’re learning anything, it’s really tempting to kind of learn it in the background like- practicing the guitar while watching TV or something like that. But obviously, when you’re fully focused on the thing that you’re learning, your brain learns the thing a lot better. So, there are different hacks that help you focus on things.

One is the five-minute rule which is a general tip for productivity as well. If you wanna do something and you’re finding yourselves having difficulty in starting out doing the thing-
like actually getting started & overcoming the activation energy, the five-minute rule says that you just have to convince yourself that you’re just gonna do the thing for five minutes. And then after you’ve done it for five minutes, you’re allowed to just not do it. The other thing that’s really helpful is to just chuck your phone away. Literally, take your phone and toss it onto the sofa or on the floor. Now, you are ready to focus on the exam preparation and not get distracted.

Find opportunities for immersion

So there’s a great book called “Ultra Learning” by a chap called Scott Young, where he talks about his journey through learning languages in like three months at a time and becoming fluent in a language in three months. The key to that as all language learners say is immersion. Just being as immersed in the language as possible. And the general principle here is that we learn best when we’re in an environment where we’re actually gonna be using the skill. So for students preparing for CSIR NET, GATE, DBT & ICMR exams, the ideal opportunity is to join a full-time or crash course, practice more questions and improve their abilities.

Figure out what are your weak links and then use lots of drills & stuff to improve them

The question that I insist every student ask themselves when they are about to study is- if the exam is tomorrow, what topic would I be the least happy, or the most annoyed about?
And then I ask them to just study that topic. And this is really good because, whenever you’re learning or whenever you’re studying or anything like that, it’s very tempting to just do the stuff that seems familiar to us. If you’re studying for an exam, it’s very tempting to go through the easy topics even though you already are well-versed in them.

But really the learning only happens when you’re trying to fix your weaknesses and you’re trying to operate at a decent level of difficulty. If something is too easy, you’re not gonna learn anything at all. And so if you wanna maximize the learning and learn anything faster, you wanna really hone down on what are these areas of weakness, what are these weak links, and how do you use drills to improve those as quickly as you can?

Test ourselves

Now, this is a thing that in the world of studying is called active recall but it also applies to the world of learning anything in general. The idea behind active recall or retrieval practice is that you don’t learn by trying to put stuff into your brains. You actually learn counter-intuitively by trying to take stuff out of your brains. And so if you’ve had that experience where you’ve read something in a textbook or on a website and someone asks you about it a few days later and you’ve completely forgotten about it, that’s just because you haven’t tested yourself on that knowledge.

The word testing has all these negative connotations because you think of testing as a school thing and you get graded and you get judged. But if you move towards thinking of testing yourselves as being a strategy for learning, everything becomes so much easier. When you’re studying for exams, there’s no point in reading the textbook and just summarizing what’s in the textbook. The point is, you have to test yourself so that your brain has a chance to work to retrieve the information. And that is what really drives learning.

In the field of learning, there is this concept called the desirable difficulty concept, which basically just means some things shouldn’t be too hard.

For example, if I were to try playing tennis against Roger Federer, it would just be too hard.
I wouldn’t really learn anything. But equally, if I were to try playing tennis against a 10-year-old who doesn’t know how to play, it wouldn’t be fun, I wouldn’t learn anything because the difficulty is at two different extremes. I want to be playing tennis against someone who is at my level or a little bit better than me because that is the real arena in which I’m going to be learning. And that’s why having a coach, for example, is really good because a coach can moderate their playstyle to be at my level and therefore I’m more likely to learn as desirable difficulty.

So whatever you want to learn efficiently, you want to apply this concept to try and make it a little bit more difficult. Learning is not supposed to be easy, it is supposed to be hard. And if it’s hard, then it means you’re doing something right.

Get intense feedback as often and as quickly as possible

So feedback obviously is how you learn. You do something, you see that you’re doing it wrong, and then you improve the thing. Again, feedback is one of those words that can seem a little bit dirty at times, especially if you’re starting something out where you’re not sure of your own abilities. If you get constructive or critical feedback, that can really be a blow to your ego. If you’re that sort of person that needs the ego massage then at the start of learning something, what you need is praise and encouragement.

At the start of a journey, you need that injection of positivity and enthusiasm rather than necessarily critical feedback. But if you do decide to switch gears and to start taking learning something super-seriously, you want to kind of avoid the praise and recognition aspect of it, which is kind of unhelpful, and instead focus on the critical, constructive feedback. What can you do differently? Again, this is why having a coach or a tutor is really helpful in acing competitive exams.

So now, you know how to study smart and not harder. Hope you enjoyed these Smart Study Tips. You can process and retain as much information in two hours that many other students would take eight hours to learn.

These CSIR NET Study Tips, Smart Study Tips will change your exam preparation game For Exams Like CSIR NET, GATE, DBT, ICMR – 10 Pointers. For more interesting videos check out our youtube channel. Subscribe to our youtube channel and Facebook page for freshly brewed content.

Smart Study Tips & Methods For Exams Like CSIR NET, GATE, DBT, ICMR, CSIR NET Study Tips

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