Study smart, not harder

Studying for the exams

It’ll be the June holidays soon and our children will be busy catching up with their exam revision and enrichment classes. They’ll be busy building up their portfolios of good-to-have creative skills and CV-building CCAs.

But studying hard isn’t the same as studying smart. Research has much to say about how we can study smart. It’s not necessarily the things that you’ve tried before. Here’s what the experts say:

1. Test yourself (again and again)

Recent research published in Psychological Science in the Public Interest revealed that highlighting key concepts in a textbook is not an effective way to learn. Instead, testing oneself is. Repeating a quiz after a month or more also facilitates learning.

2. Understand the information

Cognitive research has long established that our ability to remember things like facts are much more easily recalled if we understand the concept behind the facts. This notion of “deep processing” means that verbatim learning is not as effective as being able to rephrase the material in your own words.

3. Try learning outside the classroom 

A 2013 study found a positive association between newspaper reading and better grades among undergrad students. But the new buzzword is seamless learning. This is the idea behind the use of iPads in local primary schools to facilitate formal and informal learning, which was reported in a 2012 issue of Learning, Media, and Technology.

But there’s no need to sit around and wait for your children’s teachers to employ these techniques in their school classrooms. Parents can use Twitter, WordPress and RSS feeds to encourage their children’s learning. In addition to learning the technology (good for keeping dementia at bay) and helping their children summarize what they have learnt in their own words (see Tip #1 above), writing a blog can be a useful way to develop children’s writing skills.

Helping children find their own information and resources to support their blog not only trains children with initiative, resourcefulness, and independence (skills which will come in useful at the tertiary level), the process allows them to creatively explore an area of their own interest. The process further trains up their reading skills. We may take these abilities for granted, but everyone has room to improve at this, from secondary school all the way to university. School-age children need to read for their General Paper; university students need to read primary source materials for presentations and written assignments. Graduate students need to read journal articles. Adults who stay mentally challenged will be in a better state to overcome cognitive impairments in the ageing process.

The good news. Not only is the internet these days overflowing with useful apps for learning, we can even get all that information delivered to us through RSS feeds (visit and by subscribing to news alerts.