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5 Study Myths BUSTED!

21 April 2022

Exam period is officially upon us so UCL Student, Will Hutchings has busted some urban study myths so you don't have to!


So exam period has hit and you’ve frantically Googled ‘study and productivity tips’ while cramming for tomorrow afternoon’s exam.

But it doesn’t take long to realise that a lot of advice online just doesn’t work. Trying to ‘work smart not hard’, scheduling in short lunch breaks - all of these regimes fall apart in practice. And so do you. You just end up hungry, exhausted and with a mind as blank as your notes folder is full-to-bursting.

So, in honour of the most stressful time of year, here are five of the biggest study myths, debunked.


 1. Work as much as you can all day long

The Myth: “If I can stay up all night clubbing, I can stay up studying too.”

The Truth: Studying, like many things, is a habit. Getting into the habit of planning a balanced work day will ultimately make you work more effectively without sacrificing your health or social life. 

Plan a lunch break of at least 30 minutes, preferably 45 minutes or an hour. Make sure you get however much sleep you need (usually 6-9 hours). Don’t punish yourself if you don’t get it right away; studying can be a hard habit to build.

You know you have a good study schedule when you are getting work done and still have some room to breathe, even if you go over your schedule sometimes.


 2. Putting off work until the last minute

The Myth: “I can do my work the day before the deadline. I’m just that kind of person.”

The Truth: We all think we’re ‘just that kind of person.’ But in reality, procrastination is a habit with high risks that can make you feel even more anxious, and certainly more guilty, than overwork.

The earlier you start your work, the less stressed you’ll feel when you know you have time. Again, don’t burn yourself out - just give yourself the amount of time you need for each stage of the process. So stop watching Euphoria and start writing!


  3. Only working towards a big goal

The Myth: “I need to finish this essay so then I can finish my degree and then get the best job.”

The Truth: A good way to avoid this trap is by ‘chunking’. Chunking describes the process of taking a big thing, like an assignment, and splitting it into smaller component parts.

For an essay, this might be ‘Introduction’, ‘Conclusion’, and a set of topics or points relevant to the question. For revision, this can be harder but subtopics can still be found. For example, you could split ‘feminist theory’ into subtopics such as ‘first-wave feminism’, ‘second-wave feminism’, and ‘third-wave feminism.

Chunk any long-term goal into smaller activities and it’s easier to see the progress as it happens!


 4. 'Multitasking'

The Myth: “Why bother scheduling when you can just do all of it at once?!”

The Truth: The allure of multitasking is obvious. If you can work and play at the same time, then you never have to feel bad when not working or long to be browsing TikTok when smashing away at your keyboard.

But, as studies have shown, there is no true multitasking. The human brain merely switches back and forth between two processes very quickly. Effective work using this method can only be kept up for a few minutes at a time, and your brain can tire more quickly from the stimulation.


 5. And the best way to study is...

The Myth: “There is one way to study that works for everyone.”

The Truth: This might be the most popular myth of all. To be told that there is one way of studying that works most effectively damages self-esteem in the long run. We have all had that thought: maybe I’m just not cut out for this.

Studying is hard most of all because you have to know yourself and be kind to yourself. Try different techniques; The Pomodoro Technique is a popular one but there are also old classics like mind-mapping and paraphrasing.

You might find one technique is made for you, or that you like to mix a variety depending on the task at hand. Or maybe you have your own way of working and you’re not going to change. 

As long as you find a way that helps you avoid the five traps listed above, then go forth, and good luck on your degree. 

Here’s to summer break!

ImagePhoto by Green Chameleon on Unsplash