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It’s May. Brutal.

By Nick McIndoe in Study
4th of May 2017

Struggling for motivation? You might want to read this!


It’s May.

Brutal.

Why is it brutal? Because you’ve probably studied a fair bit already this year (even if you don’t think you have). And, not to put a downer on things, but you have a whole lot more study heading your way.

As I said, it’s a brutal time of year.

The actual effect that May has on you is, well, really up to you. The way I see it, May’s a pretty nifty time to test out new things – particularly if you’re currently struggling for motivation. In the end, this could be the difference-maker.

Perhaps you’re in a similar headspace to what I was in May of Year 12:

“Okay, cool – another SAC’s coming up. I guess I’ll just go through the entire SAC process yet again: read textbook, study, do practice questions, eventually do the SAC. And then I’ll have like, a million more SACs to come. Ho hum. What a burdensome time this whole “Year 12″ thing is.”

Obviously, a pretty poor attitude. And, also obviously, not the sort of attitude that will result in consistently high marks. To avoid this, you might like to test other study methods. You never know – you might even stumble upon an amazing revision technique! Here are some initial ideas to start the conversation.

 

PODCASTS

Different study techniques suit different purposes.

I’m not saying that you’d be able to get by in Year 12 by listening to podcasts and nothing else, but they can be a great method of “light revision”. If you don’t feel like smashing through textbook exercises or writing essays, but still want to be feel productive, podcasts might be a good fix.

If you’re learning a language, they can be particularly effective. Find a podcast on a topic you find interesting in the language you’re learning, and away you go. Immersing yourself in this way can, believe it or not, be more effective than trying to learn theory from a book.

Podcasts can also be great for subjects like English Language and Global Politics, which require you to study up-to-date with contemporary news and affairs.

 

LOCATION

Sometimes you needn’t even change your study method – instead, you might just… move elsewhere.

It can be difficult to keep motivation if you’ve been studying for an extended period of time – or if you always study in the exact same position. Why not pack up your things and enjoy a change of scenery?

I used to study at school a lot, but never in the same position for a hugely lengthy period of time. I’d start in the library, then move to a VCE area, then onto a random classroom, then outside for a while, then back to the library, and so on. The change of location can actually bring about new ideas, different perspectives, and just generally keep things phunky and phresh.

As an aside, you can also do this to prepare for your exams. If you know where your exams will be held, why not try to study there as much as possible? That way, you get used to the surroundings well before entering the room on exam day.

 

READ – LIKE, OUT LOUD

It seriously does make a huge difference.

If you’re reading this, I can almost guarantee you’ve been in a situation that goes something like this:

  1. *Reads page of textbook*
  2. *Gets to end of page*
  3. … “I actually have no clue what I just read.”
  4. … “I better re-read that.*
  5. *Reads same page of textbook*
  6. *Gets to end of page*
  7. … “I actually have no clue what I just read.”
  8. Rinse and repeat.

If you’re doing it right now, pls stop.

Going through this process multiple times is actually a huge waste of time – and, if nothing else, it’s very fatiguing mentally. This is what you might call unsmart revision (I don’t think “unsmart” is a word (ironic?), but #yolo).

When you read stuff aloud, you process more information – because you have to think about it more actively. I mean, this is just based on anecdotal evidence, but I reckon it’s pretty spot on. When you’re next reading a textbook, do yourself a favour and read it aloud. I bet you’ll notice the difference.

This is even more useful when you’re proofreading something that you’ve written yourself. When you verbalise a practice essay, for example, it’s much easier to notice extremely long sentences (because you’ll simply run out of breath when verbalising them). And spelling errors stick out much more clearly.

10/10 would recommend.

 

MAKE IT RELEVANT

You’ve probably heard it before: for content-heavy subjects, make mnemonics, yada yada yada. You probably do this already.

Perhaps what you might not do is make those mnemonics extremely relevant to your everyday life. I mean, you could try to remember content by learning some random mnemonic – but then you have to learn that random mnemonic, too! In Business Management, there are five management styles: autocratic, persuasive, consultative, participative and laissez-fair. You could remember this by thinking of an arbitrary mnemonic, like “All Penguins Can Punch Lizards”, but why is that any easier to remember than the actual management styles themselves?

I like sport. So, in Year 12, I linked basically all of my mnemonics to sport-related things – and then mentally linked those sports to the concepts I was learning. For example, I might remember the aforementioned management styles by thinking of “Amazing: Ponting Can Pull Lazily,” in reference to ex-Australian cricket captain Ricky Ponting. And then I’d associate Ponting with management styles, because he was the captain.

That mnemonic may very well mean absolutely nothing to you, but that’s okay, because you’ll unlikely be using it. My point is that when you make your own mnemonics and other study aids, things become a lot easier. This is a great way to mix up your study, too; it becomes almost enjoyable!

 

JUST… WRITE

Particularly for content-heavy subjects, I found this pretty useful.

Grab the study design, pick any random dot point, and literally just write as much as you can about that concept.

If you can write heaps, it’s a great way of a) building confidence in that topic, and b) clearly and concisely articulating your knowledge (which is important when it comes to exam responses).

If you can’t write much at all, it’s a great way of identifying what you need to work on most.

If you do this now and then during the year, you should be in a pretty good position come end-of-year exams. I found this a fairly stress-free study technique, too; you don’t have the stress of securing marks or anything like that – you just write!

 

 

Really, there’s no end to the number of study techniques you could use. Be creative! May can be a pretty brutal month to get through, what with the prevalence of SACs and general lulls in motivation levels – but thinking outside the box can definitely help you get through it.


Let us know how you’re going! Share your VCE experiences in the VCE Journey Journal.

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