How to Study (Effectively)

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(This article was written by our Tutor Dave)

Many students often find themselves asking the same question: “Why is it that I keep studying, but my grades are not improving?”. The answer to this is simple. You are not studying right.

Different students have different study needs, and different study patterns.

As such, what works for your friends or seniors may not necessarily work the same magic for you. If you want your grades to improve, here are some alternatives you may be keen to explore. (See: 12 Study Tips from Scoring 90 Rank Points in A Levels)


1. Practice, Practice, and Practice

This works for some students, or even certain subjects in particular (i.e. Mathematics). Practicing is the best way to develop a muscle memory that allows you to identify solutions and topics the moment you see a question.

When you practice, you are also able to learn and master the different type of questions teachers or examiners are able to set for a particular topic.

This is crucial in your exams, as many a time, students do not know what examiners would test them on. (Free Exam Papers Online)

My personal word of advice: Do not memorise your work! The best form of learning is through practice. Thereafter, understand your work and concepts through revising the practices that you have completed.

This can be in the form of ten-year series, past year papers, or even class practices and school tests!


2. Organisation!

Some people work messy, some people work neat. For those who lean towards being more organised, you may wish to apply the same idea to studying.

Take some time off your busy schedule and craft your own timetable or even your own study plan.

This would ensure that you stay on track for the exams and do not miss out studying any topic. Stick to your own schedule and this will definitely help you to stay productive every day. (See: How Secondary 2 Streaming Affects your Future)

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Some ways that you may wish to craft your timetable:

    • Chapter/Topic Based

This is more ideal for those who gets bored of a particular subject easily. Allow yourself to focus on 1 or 2 chapters for a subject and cover 2 or 3 subjects in a day!

    • Subject Based

This may be more suitable for students who are able to focus very well and want to keep their attention focused on one thing at a time. To do so, simply assign a subject to a particular day and stick to the schedule. (How taking Combined Science Almost Ruined my Future)

While it is good to study, make sure that you include time for rest!


3. Environment

Your learning environment is key in ensuring that you study efficiently.

You may know of a few study spots, but are they suitable for you?

This is the question many students tend to overlook. While a library is definitely a good place to study, it may not suit your studying needs. Someone who finds it hard to focus in quiet places may want to avoid the library.

Some alternative places you may wish to consider:

    • School:

If your school has great studying spots, you may wish to keep this in mind. School is a place where you can easily seek help from your teachers when in doubt as well.

    • F&B Restaurants:

For those who require food to stay motivated and productive, this is the place for you. A right mix of noise and food may be what some of you need to study effectively.

    • Home:

If you find your friend’s or your house very conducive for studying, feel free to have personal or group study sessions at each other’s house after school.

However, do be wary of the bed as you do not want to fall asleep during these precious study sessions.

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However, environment is not just about the place but also who you study with.

Some studying options for students:

  • Alone
    • Pros: Peaceful, able to focus better
    • Cons: No one to discuss work with
  • In Pairs
    • Pros: Someone to ask questions when in doubt
    • Cons: May serve as a form of distraction
  • Study Groups
    • Pros: Ease of asking questions or initiating work discussions
    • Cons: Distracting, harder to find study spots

If you find yourself talking a lot and not accomplishing anything with your current study group, you may actually be better off studying alone, or with new study buddies.

If you always have burning questions to ask when studying and find yourself unable to move on until your question has been answered, you may be better off finding yourself a study buddy that can help you.

Personally, I was the student that could not stand quiet environments, but also got frustrated with people constantly asking questions. My choice of study environment, alone in school.

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My school had many study cubicles which work like a charm for me. I was able to isolate myself and consolidate my work every day after school, before attending to my social needs. While I did not have a personal study plan, I made use of the school’s timetable to stay organised, revising what I have learnt for the day and clarifying any doubts with my teachers the next day.

This made sure that I was able to stay on track with my revision, without missing out on any topics or subjects.

In primary school, I did not have any direction in studying and did not do so well.

Having found my studying ways in secondary school, I managed to starkly improve and made it to junior college, scoring very well in both instances. Even up till my current university days, I am still applying the same studying techniques as I ever have done so, and I can safely say that it works for me.

Ultimately, it is up to you as students to explore yourself and your personality.

Find out what suits you, and what does not work for you. (Should I Send My Child for Tuition)

If something is hindering you from studying effectively, leave it behind and try something new. Who knows? That new bench you see in school may just be the right place for you. As students, it is also up to your own responsibility to ensure that you eat right and sleep right.

Your diet and sleeping patterns are key in ensuring the healthy state of your brain which can directly influence how well you focus not just during your study periods, but also during your examinations! Remember, these are not one-time wonders but habits that have to be cultivated over time. (How Much Does a Tutor Cost)


Miriam is part of the team that operates CocoTutors: #1 Home Tuition Agency in Singapore. We connect Parents and students to Tutors, via our tuition-matching system. You can try out our services at ( or by calling +65 9177 9055 directly.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Efis

    nice article, thanks for sharing^^

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