When and Where to Study for a Mental Boost

Studying becomes more efficient when you pay attention to what’s helping you study more effectively. For example, even the location, time, and how you feel can dramatically impact your studying efforts. When you pay attention to where you study best or when you study best, studying becomes efficient. Below are 5 tips to help you study more effectively:

1. Study in different places.

Studies show that studying in different places helps us remember better because our brain becomes more active in trying to make connections. In one classic study, participants were asked to study a list of 40 vocabularies in two different rooms – one windowless and cluttered, the other modern with a courtyard. The participants who studied in the courtyard did far better.

2. Alternate between different types of homework/assignment questions.

Studies suggest that switching between types of questions can enhance test scores. The studies had children in either two conditions: 1) children who would repeat doing the same set of questions before moving on to the next set. For example, first do additions. When done, then move to multiplications. 2) children in this condition would alternate between multiplications and additions. The children who had studied mixed set did two times better on a actual test.

3. Space Out Your Studies

Studies found that spacing out our study periods significantly improves memory. For example,  studying 1 hour each night as opposed to a full-cramping session produces better results on tests.

4. Be able to relate what you learn to yourself

This was the first advice I got from my university professor. Make sure to relate what you are learning to some aspects of your life, because it helps you understand the materials better and keeps them longer in memory. For psychology, this is really relevant. Psychology is one of the subjects in which is almost impossible not to relate to what you are learning.

5. Study at a time where you feel most focus

When we are tired or stressed, it can affect our studying negatively. So find a time, where you study the best. For some, it’s at night when they are least distracted. For others, it might be at the morning where they just woke up and have more energy.

Reading Textbook Tips (to be edited/revised)

When it comes to reading textbooks, the results could end in two ways: 1) You do your readings but you do not perform well on exams because of questions that came from the textbook or 2) You do your readings and you get all the textbook based questions right.  There are strategies to help you get outcome number two. These strategies help you pick up the key content that are most likely to get tested on exam. These strategies also save you time from reading and trying to memorize unnecessary materials.

1. Pay attention to what the assigned readings are and do them. In my university years, I had classmates that don’t pay attention to what they have to read and end up scrambling on chapters or topics that aren’t even tested. The key are to attend all class, pay attention to what the professor assigns you to read, note any changes the professors make regarding the readings over the term. Sometimes they decide to remove certain pages or topics from the readings and you have to pay attention to that. And by attending all classes, you also note overlapping materials covered in classes and textbook and that’s key to what’s tested. In my first psychology class, one question I asked my professor for studying advice was how to approach the textbook. As such, the professor said the same thing: Pay attention to overlapping materials and what’s assigned. Pay less attention to the non-overlapping materials but do give them special emphasis when it comes to prepping for exam (something I will elaborate later).

2. Read smartly. You can end up reading for hours and not remember a single thing versus reading for an hour or two and remembering everything. The difference lies in how you approached the readings. There are techniques to that. What I was recommended and personally found helpful was to recap what I read. In other words, after reading a 2-3 page on a topic, before moving to the next topic, make sure you try to remember what you read. Summarize what you read, highlight the key points, and do the practice questions at the end of chapter questions. And if you want to go the length, take notes on the key points and try to remember them. Also, if there’s a chapter summary page of the topics, also make sure to understand and remember everything mentioned in that.

3. When you are reading, try to build on your momentum. If you feel that you are understanding everything and enjoying everything you read, keep going instead of taking breaks. Taking breaks can slow down your momentum. On the opposite end is if you are not feeling it, you should take a short nap or do something else until you are in the mood to read. However, if you don’t mind at all that you won’t be getting much from your readings but you care about doing what you can, then try your best. I do number 2 all the time and it does make a difference though not always the most efficient. It’s better to get something done than nothing.

4. After your readings, you should sleep or not distract yourself with any other materials or activities. When you sleep, your brain does a better job reprocessing what you read. It also helps store the materials in your brain better. However, if you fill yourself with other activities such as watching an Anime or overload yourself with another course reading, your brain might not filter information properly and get the information confused. As such, you should let your brain rest to process the information before moving on to the next activity.

5. Another thing that helps is to try to make what you read personally significant or relatable in some way. The more you can relate to something the more you’re likely to be interested in it or remember it. Some things that helped me were to think about certain past life events or watch videos on YouTube. You can also talk to classmates or professors to make a topic more engaging.

6. The final and most important part is to apply what you’ve read and learned. This is done through doing the ‘questions at the end of each chapter’ or coming up with your own questions to test yourself. This is the most important step.

Alternate method: 

Is to read everything which is kinda like scanning without stopping to summarize what you’ve read. However, the down side to this is that it drains your mind of working memory and also decreases your ability to fully recall everything you’ve read. Instead, the technique to overcome this is to reread the chapter again but multiple times.

Hope this helps! Feel free to share this article and add in your own studying advice. Tag me at neurolove and I ll reblog some of the good ones!

How to Deal With School Stress

It’s been a while since I was in school, but I do remember how stressful it was. The stress came from things like exams, sleep problems, having no time for other activities, or just constant flow of expectations being thrown at you. As such, I didn’t really deal with stress that well at first. Stress was constant. However, as time passed, I learned to cope with it by accepting that it is part of the school life and that everything will be worth the reward at the end. But there are tips to help minimize stress. Here are few I think helped me and hopefully they will help you too:

1. Acknowledge that stress is part of the package and do not run from it.

Sometimes when we feel stressed, we think that there’s something wrong with us. That, out of all our classmates, we are the only one who is stressed, but the truth is that everyone goes through it too. Each person just copes with stress differently and some don’t show obvious signs of it at all. But mostly when people are stressed, they either skip class, start trying less, or freak out even more. I suggest just recognizing that stress is natural, that it means you care about school and that you will work your ass off to finish whatever you have to do. All of which is good.When you finish what you have to do (study for an exam, do your assignments ahead of time, do well on exams), the stress gradually goes down as you become more confident and familiar with handling it.

2. Try to balance out your life a little. Sometimes when you are stressed, it’s because you feel that you are not performing as well as you should in school. You’ve based your entire future off how well you will do in school. However, if you have other hobbies or activities that you care a lot about and do exceptionally well at, you won’t feel as stressed. This way, you’ll know that if you don’t do well in school you’ll still have something else to lean on.

However, this tip is only recommended if you really want a way to minimize stress. For me, I threw everything else aside and focused just on school, but I had to go through a lot of stress and pressure. I chose that route and it paid off. However, if I could start over I would try to lead a more balanced life, but too much was on the line for me.

3. Have supportive friends. Have a study group, a study partner. Complete your university or college year together as training partners. Study together, share problems with each other, take classes together, help each other. Having someone there who you can confide in, who support you, who you know is going through the same things you are can really be inspiring and be encouraging.

4. Try to be positive when it comes to failures or set backs. Sometimes people don’t get the results they want and they give up. The last thing you want to do is give up because failures are actually part of the road to success. No one reaches the destination they seek without some failures. They get back up and try again and that’s what makes all the difference. When you accept that failure is part of the journey, you tend to be more prepared for what ever comes your way. I myself failed my first semester in my first year, but I worked really hard and climbed back up.I eventually came out on top in most, if not all, of my psychology classes.

Setbacks are part of your story, and they make you stronger.

5. Use all the resources you can. Use the help of your teachers, professors, friends, parents, and tutoring services; whatever it takes to help you do better. Think of school like an investment. If you are paying to go to school, then you have to be prepared to go all the way to achieve the goals you want. You want to use everything in your disposal to accomplish the goals you’ve initially set for yourself. Otherwise, you’re sort of only going halfway.

Edited by Alexander Loncar

Tips To Help Build Up A Healthy Work/Study Habit

Let’s say you have a new activity or project that you would like to incorporate into your schedule. This of course requires you to build up a habit. The habit should allow you to stay focused and committed for a long time so that you can get the work done. Here are some tips that can help build up a work/study habit.

1. Allocate a time slot where you work/study. Preferably, set up this time slot for every day of the week so that the habit builds up faster. Furthermore, most often, we procrastinate or aren’t able to keep up is because we do not consciously put effort into when to get a job done. To overcome this, you need to dedicate a time in the day every day for the work.

2. Work/study at your own pace. You don’t have to rush. You just just have to get some work done even if it’s a little. Little progress a day adds up to a lot of work accomplished over the week. You’ll be surprised and amazed.

3. Note your progress. We don’t often pay attention to how far we’ve come until we look back to the beginning. Everyday, therefore, keep track of what you’ve done the day and over time you will be happy about the amount of work/accomplishment you’ve made.

4. Reward yourself. Every time you finish working, reward yourself with free time or spending money. You can also ask your parents for reward. Another way to reward yourself is to note your own progress as this can be self-fulfilling.

5. Build up a momentum. Once you get started, and you find yourself getting more productive, try to do more and more. Set up more projects and go for them. Don’t get bored by doing the same thing everyday.

General Tips To Help You Focus When Studying

Unlike my previous article on how to deal with various factors that cause you to be unfocused, this article is less situation specific and more on general things that you could do or try.. However, since the tips here will be more general, they might not be as helpful. They could however help you when you haven’t yet figured out your problem and you just want quick solutions.

1. Choose to study in the public such as a library, coffee shop or empty classroom. Sometimes trying to study at home can make you less focused because you have more privacy. Studying in public takes away the privacy and forces your mind to focus on things you could only do while you’re in public.

2. Use the 5 Minute Rules or something alike to help you get started. The 5 Minute Rules is telling yourself to start on something such as reading the assigned readings or doing your practice questions and trying your best to stay focus for as long as 5 minutes. 5 minutes is really short so it should motivate you to get started on something you may dislike.

3. Reward Yourself. Think of something that you would like to do instead and tell yourself that only once you finished what you are supposed to do are you allowed to do the preferred thing. This tip will work well if you have something else on your mind and need to put it aside to stay focus.

4. Study at a good time. When is a good time for you to study? When do you find yourself most productive? Do you focus better at night or in the day? Do you study better when you are fully rested or just moderately? Knowing the answers to these questions could you determine a good time to study. Sometimes, we study when we are feeling less into it and that’s not a very efficient way to go about studying.

5. Use a Timer. We are generally really poor at estimating how much time we need to get something done. We overestimate the amount of time we have and we end up procrastinating. If instead, we just set up a timer to like work for an hour, we are more likely to want to hold true to our words and see what we can accomplish. A part of achieving our goals is to set up a deadline for when certain tasks are needed to be done.

6. Break Larger Task Into Smaller Ones. Sometimes, we feel like we have so much to do that we procrastinate, because we dread. Instead, we can avoid this by doing what we’re able to do first and slowly build our way up. Furthermore, it helps if you seek help for the tasks you can not accomplish so you don’t get stuck on one place and becoming frustrated.

7. Use a state of flow to your advantage. The state of flow is when you most productive and focused on the task. When you take notice of this state, you want to keep working on what you’re working on to make the most use of your efforts.

8. Listen to certain music can help you focused. If you have a playlist of music that helps put you in the mood to study, you might want to try listening to those musics prior to when you study. However, once you are focused, you might want to turn the music off since listening to music can also reduce your ability to absorb information.

9. Study where others are studying. Sometimes it’s easier to study when we see that others are studying so you might want to try a library or classroom.

10. Find ways to put yourself in the mood to study. Sometimes, you might feel tired or unmotivated to study, but if you warm up, it could help. Some things you could try are listening to music, talking to friends to ease your mind off other things, or just finding a quiet place to sit still.

I think it’s important that our heart wants and desires something before we can fully commit to an activity. If we don’t find joy or meaning in what we have to do, we don’t really want to put in efforts. It is important that we really want something. You guys know how there’s a saying in my Tumblr that “Look where your mind wanders when you are distracted and that’s usually where your heart is” I think it’s true when it comes to trying to focus as well. We tend to focus on things we actually have feelings for where it’s effortless for our thoughts to wander to those places. When it comes to school, your heart has to be thinking about it first before you can truly focus with little efforts.

What grabs Attention: The Psychology Behind it!

Attention and What Draws Our Attention?

In a world where the eyes are exposed to numerous information in the environment, the eyes can not help but only selects what they pay attention to at a time.

For instance, a walk in campus, the eyes may notice that there are other students walking around, the breezing of the trees, the brown baby squirrel that has just ran by, or the new sign on the building wall, but the eyes may have ignored the face of a friend in the distance or that there is a puddle of mud in front. This is further not limited to the eyes as well, but to other senses such as hearing. Though the eyes may have not seen the familiar face, the ears hears the friend shouting out loud your name.

In this post, I talk about what attention is, the basic model, distinguish between top down and bottom up attention, and illustrate how knowledge and expectancy affect it.

What is attention?

In cognition, attention is how the brain selects and attends to certain information while ignoring others. Recall that in “Exclusive Procrastination Article”, I’ve talked about how attention affects procrastination. The more attentive one is to the tasks, the less likely one is to procrastinate. They are ideas of equivalence; attention is the ability to choose what one focuses to during a particular time.

What is the basic model?

When there is a process, there is a model. A model explains how something works in most simplify way as possible. The model of attention says that the human is exposed to infinite number of information in the environment and inside the body (i.e. a stomach-ache). And what happens is we select for what we choose to attend to. Hence, selection is an active process. And what we attend to affects thoughts, perception, and maybe behavior.

What is this top-down or bottom-up process?

Top down attention is conscious, willful decisions about what we select for. For example, when we choose to listen to what the professor is saying in lecture or reading the text message from a friend on the phone.

Bottom up attention is automatic or reflexive selection responses outside of conscious control. Recall the Threat Response I’ve talked about in “How Visual Information Triggers Emotion“, bottom up attention works similarly. Bottom up attention works by operating outside of conscious control and facilitates survival.

The bottom-up attention is affected by what grabs our attention even if we try to avoid it. Research shows that “Pain, Flashing or moving objects, or threatening things” are most likely to activate bottom-up. Pain such as stepping on a sharp rock at a beach, moving objects such as a car in the street, and threatening objects such as a snake in the park.

What affects selection?

Knowledge and expectancy. Knowledge such as the unique design of a soccer ball might draw attention to the ball as well as what is going on in a picture of soccer such as “this“. Knowledge affects what we attend to.

Expectancy, being aware of what we want to see, grabs attention when there is a surprise. For instance when looking at the moon over the ocean picture of this post, one notices that there is something unusual about it. That is we don’t expect to see something like that, but because we do, it captivates attention to try and figure out what is going on.

In summary, attention is the cognitive process by which we select information in the external or internal world that we choose to attend to. The basic model holds that selection affects thoughts, perceptions and maybe behaviors. The top-down attention concerns information that are willfully selected for whereas bottom-up is automatic or reflexive for information that concerns survival. Knowledge and expectancy affects attention by controlling what we choose to pay attention to and hence controls selection.

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