24 April 2018
Pro tips to train for success at school like you train for sport
Part 2 of 4
2. Practice and self-reflection
Like analysing game footage, make notes on what you just learned. Keep them neat and concise, yet detailed. Making the notes helps organise the knowledge in your brain. And it gives you something to use for revision later on. When you’re on the field/court your head has to be in the moment, you don’t have time to think about what you did right or wrong last game. So make a habit of revising between classes.
Another way to reflect on and improve your own skills is to supervise a training session or coach a junior team. Revising with or helping your friends is a great way to understand more deeply what you’ve learned.
Your teammates bring out the best in you. If you can see that your friends aren’t putting in the required effort, help them get back on track. They should do the same for you in return. If they’re just not as driven to succeed as you are, you should swap teams. Surrounding yourself with the best players will bring up your game. So spend time with students who have the best study habits.
You’ll want regular feedback to make sure you’ve been meeting your targets. This can come from yourself, your peers or teachers/tutors/parents. Just like a sportsperson, find the best support and advice. Check in with yourself or a coach regularly to monitor your performance against these goals. How have you improved so far? What should you focus on next? Write down your goals, and tell your parents and friends so they can help you stick to them.
3. Train Efficiently
Will time spent on a couch with the PlayStation help improve your performance or move your team up the ladder? Likewise, will it move you up the OP/ATAR rankings to ensure you get into your preferred uni course? Be smart with your time.
In Year 12, aim for an average of 3 hours or more studying per weekday, including homework, making notes, practicing essays/exam questions, doing past test papers. Some people need more study than others.
If you’re not yet in the habit, you’ll need to build up the hours you spend studying. You wouldn’t run a marathon without getting used to shorter runs first. So, make a timetable of your week right now. Mark in blocks of time that you plan to use as regular study periods. As you get used to more study, extend your existing study blocks and add others.
To study efficiently and effectively, eliminate all distractions. Get in the zone, and get it done. With that achieved, free time feels so much better. If you struggle with distractions, you’re not alone. Apps and websites are scientifically designed to be attention-grabbing and addictive. But you can’t avoid technology when you need it for schoolwork. So, put your phone on silent (obviously!) and even in another room. Some people use a 10-minute alarm (like this one), which reminds them to check what they are doing. When the alarm sounds, if they realise that they’ve unintentionally been sucked into a Snap-battle or Insta-wormhole, this reminds them to refocus.
At gym, one set of 30 reps is not as beneficial as three sets of 10 because you’ll exhaust your body. So, during your study blocks, take 5-minute breaks every half hour to walk around, stretch your back, drink some water. Even do 10 push-ups or star-jumps to increase oxygen to the brain. Without breaks and movement, your brain and body will fatigue more quickly, and you won’t see maximum results from your effort.
Like a good training session, you’ll want to work on all areas. Mix up your study sessions and work on several different areas. Don’t work on one thing for too long. Better to break it down into sets and reps, or a gym circuit. Like a well-designed skills training drill for the body, the brain gets better at recalling information if you switch often between study topics. Set little goals for yourself within each period of study. Tick them off as you hit your targets.