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Study Hard vs Study Smart

Every student wants to score high marks in his / her exam and parents also want their children to be the top (of the class, of the school, or of the world, you name it).

So, the poor student starts studying hard, from day to night, 24/7. For Primary level, you can study as hard as you can, because there are only three to five subjects that you need to focus on. When you move on to Secondary level, you have more subjects to study and study hard will drain your energy and time. If you find yourself still not catching up with school lessons even though you have studied long, hard hours, it is time to change your study style.

I was not a smart student; my study style was to study as hard as I could and to do as many assessments as I could. Nonetheless, I found a few things that help me through my school years:

  1. Repetition (aka Revision) — Some students are so busy that they skip the revision part. If you are like me, you cannot remember things after you have seen them for the first time, then repetition will help you to remember. After school, spend some time going through the lessons that the teachers have taught in school. You learn day-by-day, so revising every day will not take up much of your time. On weekends, revise the lessons for the whole week. Go through your notes (see Point 2 below) and see if you can understand and remember the main points. The next revision is when you have learnt a chapter or a topic, it is when you can link all the points together and form a full picture of what you have learnt.
  2. Make your own notes — While you are doing your revision for the first time, write down the notes. Keep them short and simple, you may add in some details when you are revising for the second or third time.
  3. Make use of “short” time available — While you are waiting for the bus or MRT, read your notes that you have made (see Point 2 above). I cannot read on moving vehicles. What I do is, I read while waiting and try to remember what I have read when I am on the bus or MRT. If you are tired, you can make use of the travelling time to take a short rest, let your brain daydream or have a short gaming session.
  4. Understand — If you understand, you will remember the facts and details faster, reducing your revision time. Thus, if you do not understand what the teacher has taught, check with your classmates or ask your teacher as soon as possible. Do not wait. If you wait, you will tend to have more things to study and you will eventually ignoring those that you cannot understand.

After I have graduated from university, reading becomes a hobby rather than a task. So, I start to study “smart”. I read quickly and skipping some minor sub-topics sometimes. I still continue doing the four steps above for things that I find important or worth memorizing. I hope they will help you too and become good habits into your adult life.


  1. Wendy says:

    One of my readers told me that he has used all the four points that are written on my post, but he never get into a university.

    The four points are to help you in your study, not to guarantee you a place in the university 🙂

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