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How To Study Smarter 101 (Part 1)

Updated: Apr 5

An asian male student wearing a headphone while studying on his laptop with books on his desk.

How To Study Smarter, Not Harder, <insert subject>?

I usually get this question towards the final exams, whether it be for IG, SPM, college, or university exams (never earlier. I wonder why….. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ )

And my usual answer is: It depends…

It depends on what topics or subjects the student wants to study.

This is not the answer most students want since everyone hopes for a single method or technique to help them score that grade and reuse that method for other subjects.

However, different subjects and topics will require another part of your brain (So how can you use a singular method!). Some subjects, like history and biology, will require more memorization, while others, like mathematics, require logic.

For example, reading the topics as a story is probably better if you are studying for a history exam. From there on, you would search the internet for the backstories for your topic. Finally, you would make a mind map of all the topics you read.

For mathematics, it would be easier to do practice questions from workbooks. The more types of questions you ask, the better you will eventually get at it. There is usually no shortcut for mathematical subjects; the longer you spend on it, the higher your grades will be.

Since I mainly teach physics, I will show you a smarter way to study and how my students get As and A*'s in their exams. This method has been tested over the years and has helped over a thousand students.

Step 1 Read the Revision Books

Read your revision books and UNDERSTAND. Understanding is essential here for this subject. If you do not understand a topic, watch related videos or message your tutor or a friend (discover the reasons why Senpai Corner offers the best physics tuition available!)

These are the two revision books that I have been using for years and highly recommend to my current students. Both books emphasize fundamental concepts and give good work examples:

Cover photo of a Revision Guide Book for Cambridge IGCSE Physics

Cover photo for a revision book for SPM Fizik

Only move on to the next chapter once you have mastered the topic. If it means you will take 5 hours to finish one chapter, take 5 hours and don't rush. You might think that’s too much time for one chapter, but, once you understand a topic, you do not have to keep rereading the same chapter months later. In the long term, this saves you time since you do not have to spend time revising repeatedly.

After reading your revision books, you can also read tuition notes and notes provided by your teachers and tutors. You can also download some of my notes here.

Step 2 Make Your Own Notes

Once you have a firm understanding of all that you have read, you should then write your notes. Take note (pun not intended) that this does not mean transferring the information from your revision books or notes to your notes (do not copy straight!).

You are supposed to write your notes using your style and words. For my tutorial classes, I always tell my students that they can condense the entire IGCSE syllabus into one page of A4 sheet and SPM into 1.5 pages.

Below is a sample courtesy of Ms Merissa ;)

igcse physics formula sheet

Step 3 Work on Exercise Questions

Once you have written your notes for the particular chapter, you can finally move on to practicing exercise questions. The exercise can be the questions in your revision book, workbooks, or Senpai Corner's question data bank.

Step 4 Repeat Steps 1 to 3

You know what they say about repetition being the secret to success. Can you guess step 4? :)

REPEAT Steps 1 to 3 until you have completed all the chapters and then some.

Step 5 Do Part Year Papers

Finally, when you are confident enough, you can answer some past year's questions. For IGCSE students, you can download the past year's questions here.

Have fun learning :)

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