Homework and study. The two things that all students have in common, no matter where they live, or what school they go to. But what is the real difference between homework and study, and how is a regular routine going to help you do well? Studiosity's Fiach Smyth has the answers.
Why is homework important?
Most nights you are going to have homework set by your teachers. Although we don’t usually think of homework as being study, it’s actually a key part of the learning process. Homework has two purposes: to give you a chance to identify gaps in your knowledge so that you can raise them with your teacher; and to help embed class learnings in your head by making a second pass over the key concepts you covered that day.
What about study?
Now that we know what homework is, what is study? Study is exactly the same as homework, except that you nominate for yourself what work to do, and you do it at a time that’s removed from the class in which you learned the content.
Let’s take a typical maths class as an example. In class the teacher shows you a concept, and then asks you to do a few exercises in class so that they can make sure you’ve understood. They set you some more exercises as homework, so later that night you have to remember what you learned in class, and apply it to those homework exercises. A month later you’ve moved on to another topic in class, but you decide one night to just spend 40 minutes going over those exercises again, to make sure you still remember how to do them, and to keep the learnings fresh in your mind. That’s study.
How much study should I do?
This is going to depend on a lot of things: how much time you have, which subjects you find challenging, where you are in your academic career. For most students from Years 7 to 10, you should be able to manage one block of study at least four nights a week. One block is about 40 - 60 minutes (we’ll discuss why in a moment). Maybe you want to do one block each night Monday to Thursday; maybe it’s easier for you to make Friday a study day where you do all your study. It’s up to you.
It’s important to remember that study is a very personal thing, it’s different for everyone. This approach of four subjects a week isn’t necessarily the best way for you to study; rather it’s the best way to start studying, to get into the habit and to be able to determine for yourself how to change things up to suit your own needs and your available time. Maybe you want to, or have time to do more than four blocks a week – if so, that’s great, as every extra block of time spent studying helps!
What exactly is a 'study block'?
A study block is a set amount of time you set aside for the purpose of studying a particular subject. Although there are exceptions, an average study block should be around 45 minutes long. This is not an arbitrary amount of time. You’ll notice that most classes at school are between 45-50 minutes in length. We know a lot about how people learn, and one thing we know is that after about 45 minutes of working on a particular topic our brains are less able to take in new information.
At school we put a break every 45 minutes or so, allowing students to change classes, change locations and topics, to keep their minds fresh and able to learn, and this is the same with your study. Even if you still feel like you’re fresh and good to keep going, in most cases pushing much past 45 minutes on a block of study will return much less benefit than the first 45 minutes did. Generally you would be better breaking and doing something else and then coming back to study a second time, rather than studying two blocks back-to-back.
At the same time, very short study blocks aren’t as effective as blocks of around 45 minutes (with a few exceptions we’ll discuss below). As you study your brain organises and reorganises information, solidifying it for later recall, and building links between the different things you are jamming into it. It takes a little time for your brain to start building these links, so you need to give your brain time. If you only spend ten minutes reading through your notes that’s not study, that’s revision. Revision is certainly something to work into your overall approach to study, but if that’s all you do then you don’t give your brain the time it needs to start building these information connections. Study blocks should be at least 30 minutes long, but 40-45 is best.
How do I balance homework and study?
Now that we know that homework and study work together, we can see why balancing both is important. You can’t skip homework in order to study, but at the same time you can’t let your homework load become so great that you have no time to study. Teachers are good at knowing how much homework is a reasonable amount to give the maximum chance to bed down class learning without taking all of your available time. However, if you work or have important extra-curricular responsibilities you may find your time being squeezed and that’s something you need to resolve.
Let’s use another example, from maths again. You have maths four days a week, and your teacher sets about 20 exercises for the class each night. These exercises take you two hours to complete, and that’s making it hard to study. First, ask your friends how long it takes them. Is it taking you a lot longer than them? If so, talk to your teacher. Your teacher may be able to identify why the problems take you longer to complete, or may reduce the number of questions they expect you to complete, focusing on the most important questions.
Or maybe it’s just that you have a lot of other commitments. Figure out how much time you can afford to spend on your maths homework, and then stop when you reach that time.
If the reality is that doing all your homework means that you can’t study, it is generally better that you take a few short cuts with your homework rather than just not studying. As we said above, study refreshes what you bedded down doing your homework, so you need both.
Remember, take a break
An essential component of good study is knowing when to take a break from study. If you sit yourself down and do four subjects worth of homework and then power through two study blocks, that study is not going to be nearly as effective as it could have been had you taken some breaks.
As a good rule of thumb, if you study for a block of 45 minutes take the next fifteen minutes off. Get away from wherever you were sitting, go walk around, or talk to people, or grab a yummy study snack.
Both homework and study are equally as important, and both need to be scheduled into your study time. See how you go with the study blocks, and if you have any feedback, let us know in the comments below!
We wish you all the best.
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- by Dula Jann
- – on
- in Lifestyle
So here are 15 painfully real memes that will remind you what being a student feels like.
15 The struggle of being in the middle class
You know you're screwed when your college life starts off like in the photo above — you can't get any financial aid because you're too rich, according to the government (uhm, am I missing out something? me, rich? lol), and you just can't afford college because the damn tuition fees are so freaking expensive. Seriously, that is so not far! And what's even worse is when you know some people who actually got grants from the government even though they clearly don't need it. Like, what did I do to deserve this? Is this some kind of a cruse that somebody put on my ancestors centuries ago? Whatever the reason is, there's not much you can do about, so, since you can't do anything without a college degree, you'll have to apply for some student loans. And we all know what that means (hint: debt).
14 As a student, you literally have to pay for everything
Once you get into college you''ll realize how expensive everything is. Seriously, you are not ready for this! Okay, it's understandable that you have to pay for accommodation, but if you want to eat, you have to pay! You need books? You have to pay, a lot (seriously, why aren't books included in the tuition fee). You want to breathe some (not so fresh) air? You want to walk on the campus? Talk? Exist? Guess what, you have to pay for all of that! But hey, at least you'll get good education, and a diploma that will secure you an amazing job (LOL, you wish!). Fortunately for you, your parents will always be there to help you out financially. Unfortunately for them, their savings are doomed. R.I.P. parents' savings
13 Being a student is a synonym for being broke
12 Being poor means eating ramen every day, for every meal
Long, long time ago somewhere in Asia a group of people came up with an invention that changed the world completely — yes, I'm talking about ラーメン, I mean ramen! Ever since its invention, ramen has been helping students all over the world not to starve to death, and survive during their time in college. How come, you wonder? Well, when you're in college, your money managing skills are not very good, so you usually spend 75% of your monthly allowance in the beginning of the month. So how do you survive the rest of it? That's easy — you just eat ramen for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day until your parents send you more money. Trust me, it's not as difficult as it seems. However, the only problem is that you'll get sick of it after a week, but that's life.
11 We all know somebody like this
So we determined that most of students are broke, or on the verge of being broke, but they don't complain about it (or they do, but just a little bit). However, there are those students who claim to be broke, even though they're obviously not even close to being broke. I mean, they have the latest iPhones and MacBooks; they drink coffee at Starbucks every day; they get a huge allowance from their parents; and let's not even talk about that huge LCD screen and surround system for watching movies and gaming, that they have in their rooms. Seriously, and you say you're a broke student? Well if that's what being broke means, then I want to be broke as well because I'd really like to own a MacBook and to drink Starbucks drinks at least once a week.
10 And people like this, who don't even attend classes but still get straight A's
Being a student is tough — you have to study a lot, you have a lot of readings, and let's not even start with all those essays you have to write. And in order to achieve that, you decide go to classes every day, and to give your best to be a good students — you listen carefully to the lecturer, you take notes; and you always read some chapters in advance. But then there are those students who literally never come to classes (or if a miracle happens and they do come, they're on their phones playing games or watching Netflix), you see them partying all the time, and yet they somehow constantly get straight A's. How is that even possible? Are they like genius? Or are you just too dumb?
9 This is so relatable and way too real
This meme right here is one of the most relatable memes for all students because it's so damn true. Once you go to college all of your friends will think that you're living la vida loca, and that you're partying and hooking up with people. Your mom on the other hand will thank her baby is studying literally all the time (little does she know, right?). Of course, society has this fake image of college where everybody is just partying all the time, so naturally they will assume that you're a party-animal who went to college just so you could party and get rid off your parents. However the truth is, you're a decent student, you study a lot, you also like to party from time to time, but the main thing you crave the most are naps!
8 You wouldn't be able to graduate without some help
Let's be real here, there's no way in hell you would be able to finish college without using one of the following: Red bull (don't drink vodka kids), Google, and Wikipedia. Not because you're too dumb or something like that. No, because you're just way too lazy. I mean, isn't it much easier (and faster) to use the unlimited power of the internet to do your homework, or to write your essay. Of course it is. And when it comes to Red Bull, remember that it will be, together with coffee, your best friends during midterm weeks. You will have to pull so many all-nighters, so logically you will drink a lot of caffeinated drinks to keep you up. And let's just pretend vodka is not listed in this meme, okay?
7 When you read the first question on a test
Imagine this: it's the finals week; you think you're prepared — I mean, you really studied a lot, you gave your best — you come to the classroom where the examination is held. You don't care about where you'll sit because you're confident about your knowledge, and you're not going to cheat, obviously. So the professor comes in, hands out exam papers, and you're ready to slay it. But then you take a look at the first few questions, and your heart starts beating so fast because you're realizing that you have no idea what those questions are about. You start sweating and anxiety is wrapping its arms all around you. What can you do? Well, the first thing I'd do is take a look at the other students — do they seem nervous as well? I'd feel much better to know that I'm not the only one who's completely lost in the exam. What can I say — that's pettiness at its finest.
6 Why me, why is it always me?
You know that feeling when you prepare well for classes — you read all the notes, book chapters, PowerPoint presentations, and you go to your classes so confident in your knowledge? And then your teacher asks a question, and guess what - you actually know the answer. So you raise your hand, hoping that he'll ask you to answer the question. But no, he asks somebody else. And the again — new question, you raise your hand, he asks somebody else. But then when you come unprepared, or when you're not listening to the lecture, he asks you a question, even though there are so many hands raised. So what do you do? You just try to wing it, duh! However, you will fail, and you will get embarrassed in front of the whole classroom.
5 Contemplating in bed, instead of studying... Yup, that's me
We all like to be a bit lazy sometimes, am I right? I mean, is there anything better than just staying home, watching TV or reading a book, all snuggled up in a warm blanket? I know, it's what dreams are made of. All you need is a glass of wine, and you're in heaven. Well, when ti comes to college, students feel the same. They would rather be gaming, partying, or just watching Netflix than actually studying. And that's what they will do. I mean, who blames them, right? Studying can be so boring sometimes (well, most of the times actually). But when they realize that they have several exams and due dates for assignments next week, that's when it gets interesting. They had so much time to get ready for exams and to do their essays, but now they have to do it all in 4 days.
4 Naps never felt that good
Remember when you were very young how taking naps was literally the worst thing ever? Your parents would basically make you take a nap (you have to understand them, though, they needed some rest as well). Napping as child would mostly mean a lot of screaming and crying, because hey, who wants to nap when they can play??? Well, once you're all grown up you will learn to appreciate naps. Especially when you start college. You'll be tired constantly, and you will pray for some extra time so you can take a nap. And let's not even talk about those power naps that you'll be taking during your midterms. 20-minute-long naps + few mugs of coffee (or few cans of energy drinks) will be your main weapon against exams.
3 When you're a student, Netflix is literally one of your biggest enemies
One of the main reasons why you'll always be super sleepy and tired is Netflix! Yes, yes, yes, we all love it, and we all know that we're spending way too much time watching shows movies on Netflix, but it's so hard to stop! Especially when you start watching some super interesting show, such as Stranger Things, and you literally can't stop — you just play episode after episode, until you've completed the whole season (that's what they call binge-watching). Then you look out of the window and you see the sun rising. "DAMMIT! How will I go to classes? Should I sleep or stay awake?," will be the first thoughts that will cross your mind as the sun rays fall over your sleepy face. You'll decide not to sleep, and you'll attend the lectures. However, you'll be so sleepy that you won't even be able to pay attention to the lecture.
2 Trying to find the motivation to finish this semester
Passing your exams will not be as easy as you expect it to be. Or writing essays — oh, you'll have to pull so many all-nighters trying to finish your assignments. Trust me, most of the time you can't just "wing it" — you will have to study hard and give your best! Unfortunately for you, that will completely destroy you (I'm exaggerating again, it's not THAT bad). You will lose sleep; you'll feel anxious and nervous; you will be emotionally drained. But you will pretend that everything is okay, and that you're not struggling at all. And when somebody asks you something about school, or your grades, you'll just give them a thumb up and say that everything is okay. Little do they know, you're heaving a mental breakdown deep inside, and the stress is killing you.
1 When somebody asks you how your semester is going
Do you know that feeling when you go home for a weekend or for holidays to take a break from uni, and then all of your friends, family, and even those annoying neighbors come to see you? Isn't that the worst? Every single one of them asks you how college is going, and you're sitting there, hoping somebody would change the topic because you can't handle this, considering that you're about to fail so many exams. And let's not even talk about all those assignments that are overdue. But worry not, my friend — somehow you will manage to pass all of your exams (it might take you some time, but hey, don't complain), and the next time your friends and family see you, you will have your head held high.
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