Month: February 2016

Creating a Good Study Environment for Students

A good study environment is as important as the studying itself. Imagine if you are a very clean and hygienic person who is made to live in a messy house. The effect is much the same when you sit with your best intentions to study, but you are sitting in a completely wrong place. Sure, you’ve meditated, focused, and given yourself a pep talk, but the moment you sit down to study, the fragrance of the cookies being baked in the kitchen seems to overpower you, or the sounds of the children playing in the park outside thwart your best efforts to resist temptation. Pretty soon, you are as distracted as you could possibly be, and your studying has gone for a toss! Sigh… What goes wrong every time, you wonder, when you are trying your best?!

Well, you are in the wrong place. Where you sit to study matters a lot, when you are planning to get some serious studying done. The logical question that follows then, is how to create a good study environment? Here are a few pointers that will help you. Take care of these, and you will find that you are studying better by the day.

Useful Pointers for Creating a Good Study Environment

A Fresh Mind and Positive Attitude
Ahh… Starts off by sounding all preachy, huh? I’ll try not to be. All I will say is that, OK, so you didn’t manage your yesterday’s quota of studying, and are now lagging behind by 2 chapters, or whatever it may be. You are frustrated, pissed off yet again at yourself or whoever, for not managing to stick to your timetable, and have decided that it is not going to work today either. But no! That’s wrong. So wrong. Yesterday is over, done with, gone, and there is no point wallowing in what you did and didn’t do. Forget all about it. Start afresh today, don’t think about the timetable, or let it build pressure on you. Do as much as you can and forget the rest. Once you get in the groove, you’ll pick up speed.

A Quiet Place
Imagine a wedding with lots of noise, or a crowded bus, or an emergency waiting room, and now place yourself bang in the middle of these scenarios with a book and pen. Ridiculous? Exactly. No point studying where you are going to be in the middle of some activity, or lots of noise and chaos, is there? You know as well as I do, that you will definitely not be able to study properly. A quiet place makes for an ideal study environment, so pick a suitably quiet place; not necessarily where you can hear a pin drop, but not where you have people screaming all around you either. At the same time, if too much quietness has you feeling all lonely, then you may try playing some soft music in the background to soothe and calm your nerves, and drown out other small noises that may distract you. A quiet place is very important in order to stay focused while studying.

Cheerful and Breezy
Would you possibly want to add to the gloom of studying, by sitting in a gloomy, suffocating place? Hell, no. As it is, if studying doesn’t inspire much enthusiasm in you, it is a good thing if you help yourself instead of hindering yourself while studying. Choose a cool, airy place, with sufficient ventilation, maybe a little breeze even, to get a smile on your face once in a while. Make the place as cheerful as possible, so that you get past the initial stages of, “This is soo boring, this place sucks, I don’t even feel like studying in this dingy place…”, and so on. Place a small plant somewhere close to your study table to add to the cheer. Eliminate all possible causes of excuses, that you know you tend to make.

Light Bright, and All is Right
No, by this I obviously do not mean string fairy lights in your room, or hang up stunning chandeliers. Just a reasonable amount of lighting that will let you read properly, without putting stress on your eyes, or making them burn and water after a while. Try picking a place by the window during the daytime, and at night, make sure that you have a light that shines brightly on the book that you are reading. This is usually the best study environment. If you have to furrow your brows and hold the book very close to your eyes to try to read something, you need more lighting than you have right now. Unless you like wearing spectacles, you will want to get that extra light.

Comfortable, But Not So Much
What I used to do is, sit on my bed, leaning against the pillows (2 of them!), legs stretched out, and a blanket pulled over them, with the book placed on my thighs! More like preparing for a day of leisure in bed than some serious studying. Clearly, my parents took care of that habit, and showed me the chair. And an excellent thing called a ‘study table’. Didn’t like it much, but I have to admit, I got a lot more studying done, and my episodes of dozing off in the middle of a boring chapter reduced drastically. Get a nice, comfortable chair for yourself that will also help you maintain a good posture. Take it from me, you will surely be studying more than you did initially.

Getting All Your Stuff Together BEFORE You Start
This is essential, very much so. Small things can really stop you from concentrating and building a flow while studying, if, after every 15 minutes or so, you have to get up to get some notes, pencils, snacks, and what not. Plan out your 2 hours, think of all the related material that you may require, and assemble it beforehand. It’s OK if you end up not using a few of the books. The one thing that amazes me is, how the moment you sit down to study, you start to feel hungry. Get a fruit or some light snack that will keep you comfortably full, without being too heavy on your tummy. Do everything possible to avoid distractions or frequent breaks while studying, and it’ll pay off.

Knowing Your Limits and Setting Targets
Just because your friend got more studying done than you did, is a silly reason to get frustrated and stop studying altogether. Conversely, if your friend has completed less than you, do not relax and stop for the day, if you know you can easily do more. Seriously, this is not a competition to see who studies how much in a day. You are you, you are not your friend. He has his limits, and you have yours. Do not set unrealistic expectations for yourself. It’ll only get you down. Stop asking your friend constantly how much they have finished, or telling them how much you have done. It’s not helping anyone. Do what you can, and let others do the same. It’s very annoying when you constantly get texts from friends that go, ” Hw mch dne? M scrwd. Nly 6 chptrs dne so far. :'( U?” Seriously, keep that damn cell phone away! Set daily targets for yourself, that you are comfortable with, and do your best to achieve these targets.

Study Smart Instead of Studying Hard
Reading through the entire text like it’s a storybook, is pointless. Read the important points, highlight important sentences, practice the diagrams and write the explanations for them in your own words instead of trying to learn the answer by rote, word to word from the text. Use techniques like mind mapping, logical linking of points, or short forms like the very simple VIBGYOR, to remember long lists and the like. Put up charts for various formulas, etc. This will increase the speed of your studying, and help you in getting more studying done in less time. Try it.

Studying can become quite bearable, if you do it right. I won’t claim that you’ll enjoy it, but the possibility cannot be denied! Now that you know how to create a good study environment, choose a place that is right for you, a time that suits you, wear comfortable clothes, and tackle those big intimidating blocks of books head on.

How to Overcome Exam Fear

Exams are a way of assessing what a student has learned during the academic year. These allow the teachers to evaluate the learning and grasping abilities of the student. Therefore, students need to achieve good scores in the examinations. However, most students experience a lot of stress while preparing for exams. They feel a lot of pressure, as both their parents and teachers expect them to get high scores. Though it is normal to feel a little bit of fear and anxiety, there are times when the students are unable to study and perform well due to fear and anxiety. At times, students tend to forget what they have learned due to fear. Under such circumstances, they end up scoring less than they could have. Hence, it is extremely crucial for students to learn about how to overcome fear, so that they can give their examination confidently, subsequently earning good grades.

Tips for Overcoming Exam-related Anxiety

Students who feel anxious are likely to experience problems such as difficulty in concentrating while studying, confusion, feeling stressed while looking at difficult questions, feeling blank, dizziness, sweating, sleeplessness, etc. All these factors further induce fear, which in turn causes the student to feel more anxious. This can have an adverse effect on the student’s performance. Here are some tips to help students affected by exam-related fear:

Prepare Well in Advance
Students are more likely to experience fear or anxiety if they have not studied properly. There are many students who take studies lightly. Unfortunately, they keep procrastinating, and leaving everything to be studied at the last minute. As a result, when the exams are just around the corner, they feel scared, as they don’t know where to start, and what to study. Hence, the easiest way of overcoming this problem is to start studying much before the exam. Studying regularly and revising what has been taught in the class on a daily basis will certainly prove beneficial. Thus, students will only have to revise before the exams. Students will feel confident, as they would have studied everything already.

Do Not Mug Up
One of the common mistakes that many students make is that they don’t make an effort to understand the subject; they just mug up without understanding. Students must understand that this is not the correct way of studying. Moreover, the chances of forgetting are more, when one has memorized without understanding. Hence, it is very important to understand the concept before memorizing it. In this way, you will never forget any important point. Also, you will be able to present the points in your own words, even if you do not remember the answer word-by-word. Thus, follow this method of effective learning, and you will feel confident.

Make Time to Relax
Examination time does not mean that you have to sit with your books for the entire day. This actually should be avoided, and one should take regular breaks to relax and refresh one’s mind. Go for walks, listen to music, and talk to friends and family. It will help you feel relaxed. Avoid watching the television or browsing the Internet during this time. This is because, many students are addicted to television and Internet, and they are more likely to waste more time.

Revise Properly
The last few weeks before the examination should be spent by revising each subject, in order to prevent anxiety in students. Plan out a timetable in such a way that you get equal time to revise every topic. During this time, you can make some notes or mnemonics, which will make it easier for you to remember points and revise them quickly. If you are concerned about your writing speed, solve a question paper of the previous year. This will give you more confidence. It will also help you in knowing what you should do or not do while writing your exam paper.

Additional Tips
Apart from the aforementioned tips, here are some points that will help students cope with exam-related anxiety, and prepare well for the examinations.

➠ One very important thing that students should remember, is to avoid studying anything new just before the exam. This will cause more anxiety, and you may forget what you have already learned.

➠ It is also important to avoid having conversations with your friends about what they have studied, and how much they have studied. This will make you more nervous.

➠ If you are feeling very tense and anxious, just before entering the examination venue, take a few deep breaths which will help you to relax.

➠ During the exam, if you get blank after seeing difficult questions, skip them for the time being, and attempt the questions which you find easier. Once you have completed them, go back to the difficult ones. In this way, you will surely be able to answer them confidently. Time management is extremely important, so make sure that you don’t waste time.

Along with the students, even parents have the responsibility to make sure that their children do not go through any kind of tension or stress during exams. Many times, children experience fear because of the pressure that parents put on them. Although parents need to make the children understand the importance of examinations, they should not go overboard. They should not pressurize their children so much, that they are not able to study anything. Parents must encourage children to study regularly, and instill confidence in them, so that they are able to appear for their exams confidently.

How to Motivate Your Child to Study

Parents want their children to succeed in life and they know that success comes with adequate knowledge. That is why, parents admit their children in good educational institutions to prepare them for life. The duty of parents is not just to get a good school for their child’s education, but to encourage them from time to time so that their interest in learning stays on. Some children are self-motivated towards learning and are self-driven to take up challenging tasks with positive attitude. Once their goal is set, they strive hard to achieve it without having to be prodded.

On the other hand, there are children who show least interest towards learning. They are not self-motivated to learn new things in life and tend to stick to easy tasks which require less effort. They need a lot of prodding to begin with something and their negative attitude leads to disinterest in learning. Parents of such children need to take that extra effort to encourage their child to study. A systematic, strategic approach is required to inculcate interest in such children. If your child is also facing this problem, it’s better to know how you can motivate your child to study so that he/she can excel in every sphere of life.

Ways to Motivate Your Child to Study

Provide a Good Study Environment
A good environment is very essential for proper learning. Disruptions and noise often disturb a child’s concentration and create difficulty in studying. A quiet room with minimum disturbance and adequate lighting should be provided so that your child feels like studying in such an environment. Creating a good study environment is in the hands of parents and they must make sure to provide one to their child.

Help in Setting Achievable Goals
Helping the child set achievable goals will not only provide a clear picture to the child about what must be accomplished in a set time frame, but also help in measuring achievements. The realization of meeting the set targets will instill a sense of confidence in the child and indirectly motivate to strive for new ones.

Set Reasonable Expectations
Many parents have the habit of setting unreasonable expectations from the child, which creates undue pressure on the child’s mind and results in depression when he/she fails to meet them. Therefore, parents should understand their child’s ability of learning and set reasonable expectations, which can be achieved with little effort. On meeting the parent’s expectations, the child will feel satisfied and work harder to perform better.

Teach the Importance of Learning
Students who lack interest in learning, usually do not know the importance of learning in their lives. That is why, they often consider it secondary and do not pay much attention to it. A child with such a mentality should be taught the importance of studies and made aware of why parents think studies are important.

Use Interesting Learning Techniques
Making learning an interesting activity can be of great help. Children usually get bored with routine study procedures, which makes them lose their interest in studies. Using techniques like fun activities and games can bring back the lost interest and motivate the child to study more often.

Concentrate on High Interest Areas
Every child has specific interest areas. Identify these areas and start with these subjects so that the child sits to study. Between the sessions of such interesting topics, include small sessions of less interesting topics so that the child gains knowledge about them as well.

Encourage the Child
Encouragement can work wonders for a person lagging behind. If a child is under depression or has failed to achieve set goals, do not complain, rather, encourage to instill a never-die-attitude in the child. Once this attitude develops, the child will work harder each time he fails and will be able to succeed.

Aid in Studying
Parents must accompany their child during studies to help them out wherever they are stuck. Many a time, children do not like to study simply because they don’t understand the subject. If parents help them in solving their problems and make them understand the subject, they will definitely like to learn some more of it.

Encourage Competition
Competition can encourage a child to put in that extra effort. It is easy to encourage boys by this means because they like to stay ahead of their friends or classmates. Getting a better score can motivate the child to achieve good results.

Appreciate and Reward
A pat on the back works wonders for motivating a child. Even if the achievement is small, praise and say that you are proud. These positive words are great ways of encouragement for children. Sometimes, rewarding can also be used as a motivator. However, be sure to give reasonable rewards otherwise, they can turn heavy on the pocket.

Benefits of Taking Breaks While Studying

Take Five!
The Zeigarnik Effect states that, ‘if you are half way through learning something, and are then interrupted in what you are doing, you will remember what you are doing better than if you had completed whatever the learning task’. So, interrupt yourself, take that break, and become a better learner!
It’s the race to be the best. To be numero uno. To leave everyone else behind. You don’t want to lose. The fear of losing pushes you ahead, the thought of playing second fiddle keeps you from stopping, and the urge to grow makes you hungry for more. Everybody runs the ‘race’. Whether you are a business tycoon trying to overtake a rival brand, or a struggling engineer trying to make it big in life. But it starts when we are young. At school, in colleges, in universities, and in the classroom.

Aspiring students strive hard to excel and stay on the top by putting in countless hours of studies, which include endless cramming and revision sessions. Their complete engrossment in this race results in marathon study sessions devoid of any breaks or intermissions. How productive is this practice? Not very. Studies show that a student who studies for an hour and takes a ten minute break at the end of the session retains more of what is learned throughout the session, than a student who continues studying without taking a break.

Taking breaks while studying contributes to better learning in a number of ways, and creates a major impact on the process of learning. Find out why a study break is essential, and how does it help you score the best.

Improves Learning Ability

Scientists conclude that the brain stops registering a constant stimulation over a gradual period of time, and declares it to be unimportant. The brain decodes a monotonous activity and gets habituated to it, no longer stimulating the brain to act in any way. Once this happens, you find yourself unable to concentrate, thereby destroying the purpose of a study session-learning. A ‘break’ does just that, it breaks the monotony for the brain. A change in place, a walk around the block, a cup of coffee; these little things can be incorporated in your study sessions to relax the mind, break the monotony, improve concentration levels, and ultimately assist the learning process.

Relaxes the Mind
A clear head, refreshed mind, and organized state of being are catalysts that speed up and enhance the process of learning. Studying for long hours at a stretch creates an information overload, and brings about restlessness and fatigue. A short tea break at the end of a 45-minute study session rejuvenates your senses, energizes you, and gets you back in the right frame of mind, ready to take on the next task in the schedule.
Alleviates Ability to Focus
The purpose of a study session is to study as much as possible and retain most of what has been learned in it. To be able to achieve this, it is absolutely necessary to continuously stay focused. It is highly likely that long hours of studying can become monotonous and cause you to believe that you are ‘learning’, when you are only just ‘reading’. A short recess eases out your stressed mind, brings you back on track, and allows you to start studying with new-found focus levels.
Enhances Information Retention
Extended study sessions sans any breaks or learning continuously reduces the ability to retain information. An optimum solution to this shortfall is to space out your study sessions in frames of 30 to 60 minutes, and take a short break after each time frame. According to The Primary and Recency Effects, memory improves just before and immediately after you take a break. Study sessions spanning a shorter time frame will thus prove more beneficial, since, very little content at the middle of the session will be taught and will have to be learned or remembered.
Yields Better Results

With a relaxed mind, improved concentration and focus levels, and a better capacity to retain information, it is obvious that your study session with breaks will turn out to be more productive, and you will derive more benefits than you previously did. Put more such better-yielding study sessions together, and what do you get? Impeccable grades and a winner of the ‘race’.
When Should You Take a Break
Plan a study schedule by spacing out breaks in between. Ideally, for every hour of studying, you should take a ten to fifteen minute break for optimum results. However, this might not work for everyone. Take a break when:

✔ you start feeling restless.
✔ you feel your concentration has gone for a toss.
✔ you are no longer registering or absorbing what you are reading.
✔ you feel that you should take a break.

Practice self-control and know where to draw the line. There is a huge difference between taking study breaks and not wanting to study at all. Limit your breaks to short intervals, and don’t let them turn into an hour-long holiday. Be honest with yourself, and don’t procrastinate your study sessions in the name of ‘study breaks’.
What Should You Do on Your Break
Change of Environment
Make sure that when you take a break, you don’t stay in the same room where you have been studying. A change as simple as an environment switch, like walking from your study room to the drawing room, can lift your spirits and refresh your mind.
Don’t Watch TV
Taking a break does not mean watching television; you could do anything you want in your study break except watching the idiot box. Do anything that excites you, makes you happy, clears your mind, and enables you to focus in a better way in the next round.
Steer Clear from ‘The Subject’
It is extremely important that your break should have nothing to do with the subject you have been studying. If you have been practicing accounts and crunching numbers, don’t go reading finance articles in the newspaper on your break.
Keep Them Short
Study breaks should be long enough to relax your senses and get you back in the groove, but should not extend a certain time limit. Pick up an activity that you know will fit into your break and allow you to get back to your books soon.
Shuffle the Things You Can Do in Breaks
Try to shuffle activities in each break you take. Experiment. If you took a power nap in the last break, listen to your favorite music in the next one, and take a walk in the garden in the one after that. This habit will not only make your study sessions more conducive, but will also make them less monotonous.
Things You Can Do in A Break
✔ Listen to your favorite music
✔ Read the newspaper or a book
✔ Leaf through a magazine
✔ Take a walk
✔ Talk to someone
✔ Meditate
✔ Engage your mind with a mental exercise
✔ Indulge in a light snack or drink
✔ Take a power nap
✔ Play your favorite instrument
✔ Go on a short drive

Now that you know what it takes to be ahead of everyone, go do it. Who knew ‘taking a break’ could make you a topper in your class! That, and studies, of course! Good luck!