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Study Smart, not Hard – Tips on Effective Study Habits

With the ever growing competitiveness of Singapore’s education system, many parents feel that working hard is the solution to doing well and thus, emphasize the need to constantly study over and over again to ensure they achieve desired results. More often than not, this induces stress and would eventually cause an adverse effect instead, resulting in undesirable consequences such as lower quality of sleep, mood swings, and least expectedly, worsened grades. In this article, we will discuss the mentioned adverse consequences of stress, and what is the right way of ensuring your child has a healthy and productive education.


1. Lower Quality of Sleep



When you experience a perceived threat (physical or psychological, real or imagined), your body’s stress response is triggered, creating a cascade of physical changes including quickened, shallow breathing; the release of adrenaline, cortisol, and other chemicals that provide a burst of energy; and other changes that allow you to fight or run from danger. Since fighting and running are both inappropriate responses to stress students face while studying, it has no effect whatsoever in helping the body alleviate the stress that is contained in the student. Nonetheless, it will be triggered and will cause uneasiness to the student. This makes it difficult for the student to sleep.

After several sleepless nights, the mental effects become more serious. Your brain will fog, making it difficult to concentrate and make decisions. You’ll start to feel down, and may fall asleep during the day. Your risk of injury and accidents at home, work and on the road also increases.

If it continues, lack of sleep can affect your overall health and make you prone to serious medical conditions, such as obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.


2. Mood Swings


The next issue we will be discussing is mood swings. The main cause of anxiety mood swings is apprehensive behavior and how the resulting stress hormones affect the body. When the student accumulates stress, it is very common and likely that they will face bipolar mood swings and easily get very stressed out when they cannot complete a simple task. Needless to say, having an unpleasant mood would not make problem solving any easier. With such anxiety and stress built into them, the quality of education they receive would be hindered as well since they are more caught up with the stress than the ability to learn.


3. Worsened Grades in School


Lastly, we look at the combined effects of stress. When it becomes difficult for the student to sleep, you will soon realize that this would cause them to be less productive when it comes to their schoolwork as they are not getting adequate amount of sleep for the mind body to relax and recover. This will lead on to a vicious cycle whereby the student would get even more stressed out, leading to getting deteriorating quality of sleep, and the cycle then repeats all over again. Eventually, he or she may no longer be able to take it and breakdown someday.

Stress is also a form of distraction for the student. When they are stressed, they tend to be caught up with their stress and are unable to concentrate on their academics. If they fail to relieve their stress due to the constant pressure put on them, it may very well be the cause of their academic results deproving.

Hence, working hard under such harsh stress is never the way to go. It does not  guarantee any improved results whatsoever and shows high possibility of causing worsening grades. Instead, here at Achievers Tuition, we have developed a few methods of studying smart that would help your child see improved grades.


Achievers Tips on Effective Studying


1. Ensure Productivity


As redundant as it sounds, many overlook the importance of productivity and take it for granted that productivity is a given as long as the student is studying. However, not many acknowledge the fact that studying does not mean productive studying. Based on studies done by psychology professor Alejandro Lleras at the University of Illinois. In this study, they set out to determine the effectiveness of prolonged work or study periods without a break. Eighty-four subjects were divided into four groups that all performed the same repetitive, computerized task for 50 minutes:

– The control group was asked to work non-stop for the 50-minute duration
– The switch group and the non-switch group memorized four numbers before the work period began, and both groups were told to inform the research team if any of these digits appeared on their computer screen during the 50-minute duration.
The numbers appeared twice on the computer screens of those in the switch group, but they never appeared on the screens of those in the non-switch group.
– The digit-ignored group was also shown the same set of numbers, but told to simply disregard them if they appeared on their screens.

For the control, non-switch, and digit-ignored groups, performance began to progressively decline until the 50-minute mark. However, researchers noted that the switch group remained sharp and on-task for the entire duration; Lleras believed the group fared so well because they were allowed two brief diversions in which they performed an entirely different task (in this case, responding to the numbers on their screens). “It was amazing that performance seemed to be unimpaired by time, while for the other groups performance was so clearly dropping off,” he told Science Daily.

This proves to us that purely studying isn’t the most productive way of studying. To ensure high level of productivity, students are encouraged to take a break every 50-90 minutes. However, refrain from long and distracting breaks. Rather, take effective breaks and do things such as stretch, getting up and moving around, which can help re-energize the body, clear the mind, and help reduce any stress that the student might be experiencing. Also, take nutritious snacks and water to ensure enough vitamins in your body and provide energy and hydration to stay focused when you proceed to continue on with studying.


2. Do NOT overwork, always start EARLY.


to do list

We understand that you may be rushing for a deadline, or you may have a test the next day. In most cases, students tend to burn the midnight oil to stay up and study. However, most of the times, this method does not work. Firstly, doing work through the night means your body would not be getting ample time to absorb the information you have just learnt in the day. Chances are, by your examinations the next day, you may have already forgotten something you have read the previous day. Give your body some time to absorb what you have learnt. Secondly, working through the night induces fatigue. When you are fatigue, your mind can no longer function at 100% capacity. In the worst case scenario, you would be dozing off during the examinations. To stop these from happening, we strongly suggest you to start early. Weeks or even months before the examinations, start revising. As mentioned before in our article which mentioned about the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve, regular revisiting is needed. In that article, we talked about how tuition serves as a repetition for students and thus they retain the information as a long-term memory. Similarly, early planning allows you to plan ahead on the topics and subjects you will study, and hence lets you create a study plan that makes you retain most of the information you have learnt.

In conclusion, we believe that it is never the amount of hours you put into studying that determines your results. It is how you spend these hours studying that dictates how well you do. Stop studying hard, start studying smart!


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