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How to organise yourself to get better grades 

By  Lysette Offley

How to organise yourself to get better grades - photo of woman studyingIt’s important to manage your study sessions carefully. Make sure you’re well organised, that you have everything that you need. Record your progress so that you know where you are. It also feels good when you can see that you’re winning.

Divide everything that you’ve got to learn into small chunks. Anything can be learnt if the chunks are small enough. We know that the brain learns best with short chunks of material learnt in short bursts of time. I’m sure you’ve experienced fatigue when you’ve tried to keep going for far too long. So keep it short.

Keep a record of your progress. Any studying you do, needs to be catalogued so you know where you are, and so that you cover everything and you don’t leave anything out.

Go through your textbook’s index to get an overview of what you’ll be covering. You will see in the index, the broad topics set out – probably as chapter headings, with subtopics outlined below them.

You might even see smaller ones underneath each of those, and if not, that’s where you need to start subdividing everything into small enough chunks. And smaller chunks again, and smaller and smaller so that you end up with chunks of just 7 or fewer bits of information on the page.

You’ll also need to keep tabs on what subject and what section you’re working on, not just to make sure you cover everything but also so that you can file each page logically in your ring-binder and know where to find it. Devise your own way of doing this. Keep it straight-forward and simple. For example: Financial services – collective investments. Then you can subdivide into sections within it, such as types, providers, corporate etc.

Part of the skill of organising yourself means that you keep an overview of what you need to cover. Don’t make the mistake of spending all your study time working out where all those chunks are going to fall. So for example instead of working out all the chunks for the entire textbook, you might do it for just the first chapter and then get stuck in and start learning the first chapter.

As soon you start biting chunks off, and ticking them off as you test yourself successfully, you can chart your progress. You can actually see in front of you your success building up, as you move forward. And that feels good. It’s good for you. It’s good for the soul! Of course you need to do that for each topic, each chunk, to keep on top of it all.

Testing, testing!

When you’ve created your notes on one side of the paper, turn it over. Now – think of a question that you could ask yourself that would test whether you know the material on the other side. When you’ve done that, put it to one side. Have a break and come back to this page a few hours later and preferably after you’ve slept on it. Now, while looking at the question side of the paper only, try to answer it by saying the answer out loud, drawing it in the air and seeing it, in your mind’s eye, demonstrating you know everything on the reverse side. (Don’t glimpse at the other side first, because all you’re doing then is testing your short-term memory and that’ll be no use to you when it comes to the exam. Many people make this mistake when revising and then wonder why they can’t remember as much as they thought they would.)

Then, and only then, turn the page over and check you remembered everything on it.

Organise yourself like this and it’ll make a huge difference to your success. Good luck.

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Lysette Offley

Genius Maker & Founder of Genius Material and The Genius Principles. Working with professionals who need exceptional academic & professional development.

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