Studying can be difficult. But if you find a way that works for you, it will become easier and less boring. Studying is not just about memorising all your work. You need to understand the concepts and know how to apply it. You want to study smart, not hard. Planning ahead and practising a method that works best for you will make studying a lot easier.

Here are 3 steps to help you get started:

1. Plan your time:

  • Planning your time is very important. Creating a timetable will help you plan your time better.
  • Start early to give yourself enough time to deal with any problems ahead of your exam. This will give you sufficient time to ask a teacher, friend or tutor for help if you are struggling with a topic.
  • Be sure to allocate enough time for each of your subjects - some subjects will take more time than others.
  • Decide what time suits you best (morning, afternoon or night) and have your study session at the same time every day. Try to create a study routine.
  • Have a study session every day (including weekends).
  • You should study at least 1-3 hours a day during the week and on weekends. On holidays and during study breaks you should aim for more than 5 hours.
  • You don’t have to spend the whole study session on 1 subject - you can split it an hour or 2 per subject.
  • A session could be: 50 minutes studying and a 10-minute break, 40 minutes studying and a 20-minute break depending on how long you can concentrate before you get tired or bored.
  • Take breaks!! It helps to get active during your breaks. This way the brain receives more oxygen, which kills stress. Play a song, dance around, take a study selfie, get a snack or something to drink.
  • If you are not in the mood to study, you can skip that day to rest. But don’t make it a habit!

2. Get a Guide:

  • For a downloadable subject exam guideline booklet, click here.
  • Study guides are great tools to help you. Most bookstores sell study guides for different subjects, but there are guides available online too. Click here for some study guides provided by the education department.
  • The Thutong Portal is a great free tool. Here you will find past papers, lesson notes, study guides and curriculum information for all Grades. However, be careful, this website starts downloading guides automatically that could use a lot of your data.

3. Find your style:

Try different study methods till you find the one that works best for you and gives you the best results.
Here are a few methods you can try:

  • Writing and rewriting your notes on paper.
  • Creating flashcards of key topics, concepts or questions - you can write the question on the one side and the answer on the back. You can also use these cards to test your knowledge by getting a friend or family member to ask you the questions and see if you can get the answer at the back correct.
  • Draw images, diagrams or mind-maps with labels to help you remember.
  • Sing or rap your work to your yourself or friend.
  • Try to teach the topic to a younger sister or brother, or older grandparent. Explaining something to someone else is a good way to make sure you understand your work.
  • Watch videos on the internet that explain the topic you are studying. There are great Youtube videos that could help you learn and understand your work.

More study tips:

  • Try to study in a room where nothing can distract you.
  • Break up each subject’s content into main topics and core concepts. Focus on what is important. You can’t learn everything in detail.
  • Picture everything you read or learn like a story or movie in your mind.
  • Repeat the story in your own words and try not to look at your notes - it makes it easier to understand and remember.
  • Make connections between the things you are learning and your life. It helps to associate difficult topics to things that we are familiar with and know well.
  • Write down notes as you study - you will end up learning twice by reading and then writing down the important points.
  • Read over your notes at the end of the week. Then store them to be used as revision notes when you study for exams.
  • If you like working in teams, a study group could help you make studying easier.

Studying does not have to be as stressful and boring as you may think. If you plan well and practise the study methods that best suits your learning style, you may be surprised at what you can learn and achieve. Remember, studying is what you make of it, if you put in the effort you can make your studying fun, and you will see results.