For many of us, studying for an exam can be defined in one word: panic.
You have 18 hours left, you are exhausted sitting there looking at a leaf full of hieroglyphs and gibberish.
Why did I see? Why I will not have started before?
1.You are anticipating that it will be hard work
Leaving everything for the last moment – or what is the same, procrastinating – is a universal law in almost all students. The problem is that this is precisely what we should expect to happen from an evolutionary perspective.
Humans are cognitive stingy: we conserve mental resources whenever possible, especially when faced with tasks seen as “essential for our survival.” In other words, we divest ourselves of studying until the last minute because:
We know that work is hard and will require a lot of mental energy.
Until there is a real threat of suspending the exam (and therefore being humiliated publicly) we are not emotionally damaged enough to motivate us to start studying.
Solution: Organize the time for yourself and then fill in the gaps with study time
As Niel Fiore says in his book “The habit of now”, part of the reason we put things off is because we don’t see the end. Think about the difference between a 100 meter run and a marathon. In the first case you are able to do your best because you see the finish line and you know it will end soon. A marathon runner is not so lucky. He knows that there is a long road ahead full of pain and fatigue, and subconsciously retains his effort to make sure that they will reach the goal.
If you know that you are going to laze a while with your friends after studying, it is much more likely that studying does not look so catastrophic and invest your energy in it. Also, you take advantage of Parkinson’s Law. Because you have allotted time to do so, through programming less time for study, you are really becoming someone more productive and focused.
2. You don’t get enough sleep
Who at the university is not bombarding caffeine
Students who spend weeks and weeks sleeping 4 to 6 hours deteriorate greatly, especially in 2 aspects: motivation and vigilance.
Studies show that bad sleep negatively affects motivation. But nobody really needs a study to tell you how bad your vision of life is when you have slept little. And surveillance, the ability to keep attention focused for long periods of time, is also significantly reduced during periods of sleep deprivation.
Solution: Set yourself an end of day alarm
Studying in shorter periods of time will not harm your sleep. It is really a psychological issue.
There are a million things we prefer to do before going to bed after a day full of classes. And when we get up, we have to continue doing the same. This is a problem whiting-biting-the-tail: “but I get sleep procrastinate study, but if I go to bed I will have to get up later and study.”
Once again: lose-lose. You have to break the circle! Set yourself an alarm. But not in the morning. Set your alarm 45 minutes before you go to sleep. Allow yourself to sleep 8 hours. If you get used to it you will see how many hours of free time seem to materialize.
Study time + Free time + sleep = happy and successful students.
3. You have a false sense of security
You may think that you are a good student, sitting there in class, listening carefully, copying notes and more notes
Even sometimes you even raise your hand here and there. But there is a big difference between having the feeling of understanding something, and being able to reproduce it on an exam.
This is what we call passive learning, and it is the best way to ensure that you will spend a lot of time and effort trying to understand something new, without being able to retain it.
Do not be fooled by the excessively logical explanations of your teacher. He already knows the material, so it is quite easy to explain it so that others understand it. The real challenge is if you can do the same.
When you wonder if you’ve really understood something, self-evaluate. Or better yet, explain it to someone (or yourself). As Einstein liked to say, “If you can’t explain it in a simple way, it’s that you haven’t understood it well enough.”
By questioning yourself, you force yourself to face the reality of whether or not you know. Do not do like the rest. Do not wait until the night before the exam to realize that you have not understood anything you gave.
4. Not all study time is the same
It’s a fact: 7 hours of study in 7 days is much more effective than 7 hours of study in one day.
Solution: Distribute your study time
The brain uses a ton of energy (20% of our resting metabolic rate). To maximize your retention of new material you have to take advantage of both active learning and recovery. Because sleep consolidates new neuronal connections during sleep, especially during REM sleep, the more intercal sleep cycles between your study hours, the more likely you are to retain the material.
5. The fallacy of planning
Humans overestimate what we can achieve in the short term and underestimate what we can achieve in the long term. Ironically (and unfortunately) we only have this problem evaluating our own tasks.
Those of others are able to see them from a much more objective way.
Solution: Use the 50% rule
Highly estimate how much time you will spend studying for the exam assuming you will start early and work constantly. Already? Ok, now add 50% of that estimate (it should give you twice as much time). Now you have a more accurate idea of how much time you will need to start studying.
6. Do you think you have more time than you got?
Look at your Sunday schedule. Do you see ?. “Oh! It seems that I have a lot of free time from 1 to 7. Perfect, I’m going to squeeze them fully studying 5 or 6 hours.”… Try again.
This is another type of erroneous planning: overestimate the amount of productive time that we can extract from a specific period of time. We tend to forget that: we have to eat, we have to sleep, there will be interruptions … And another thing happens that we are not able to explain: the body goes through active cycles of 90 to 120 minutes (ultradiano rhythm) . It doesn’t matter if you are memorizing the book for 4 hours, at an hour and a half / two hours you will not be able to absorb more material effectively. The body has entered a rest period.
Solution: Cut your estimated hours in half
If you think that on Sunday after the game you have 8 hours to study, forget it. You really have 4 or less if you keep in mind that you have to eat, rest, and do your normal daily activities.
7. You can’t get motivated or concentrate
Many of us tend to sit and wait … Expect the wave of motivation to surprise us. Here is the problem: motivation comes, but the demands of the school and your daily life are always there. If you trust that your motivation will solve your life you are wrong, everything you are doing will be in a continuous state of delay and last minute.
Solution: Focus on progress with the end in mind
Why are you studying Why do you want a degree? Be clear about what motivates you, what makes you move forward.
Thinking about the future is not enough. That vision of the future that drives your emotional intensity should be linked to your daily activities (for example: “Every time I study I am closer to being a doctor and being able to help people”) What is the set of your daily activities that practically Do you guarantee your academic success? And what can you do to organize your days, create incentives, move from unimportant things, to ensure that you are going to do a set of daily activities, despite the motivation?
Look, you know what you can spend your next hour.