How to Study Smarter, Faster and More Efficiently

Study Smarter and Faster
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Here’s an undeniable truth that you rarely hear.

Hard work isn’t always the answer.

To be successful, you need to work hard. That’s a prerequisite, but working hard without working smart is like digging a hole until your hands bleed because you never knew about a shovel.

The purpose of this post is to guide you through exactly how you can build your own shovel. We won’t be able to go in super depth, but it should act as a guideline for any student at any level.

But first, we need to be clear about something.

How long do you think it will take for you to study better?

If you’ve never thought about this much and you’re beginning the journey of becoming a more efficient student for the first time, how long will it take for you to get good?

If you answered a few weeks, then you’re probably underestimating it.

We work with students of all levels between the ages of 15 to 25 and measure an extensive set of metrics which give us detailed analytics on their studying ability. The graph below is a summary of these results across 10 of our recent students.

Studying efficiency vs time graph

This shows that the improvement (even with coaching) was reasonably insignificant for the first two months in most cases. Unfortunately it’s not possible to compare this to what the improvement would have been without any coaching, but given that those baseline scores have remained stable for years prior, it’s safe to say that it would have stayed at roughly the same level.

So what’s my point?

My point is that improving your studying is a meaningful and extremely rewarding journey. It will pay you back in folds.

However, it isn’t easy and it isn’t quick. If you want to study like the top 1%, you need to not approach this like the remaining 99%.

Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.

Abigail Adams

If you’re ready, let’s begin.

Levels of learners

Over the years, we’ve been able to divide learners into some clear levels. These levels are consistently supported by the hundreds of students we have worked with and continue to work with, as well as what is indicated by the research. Figuring out which level you’re at will help you prioritise what you need to improve on first.

Levels of learners pyramid.

Each point on this diagram is actually so important that we have entire posts dedicated to them.

Starter resources

Learning effectively isn’t about “tips”.

This is one of the most common misconceptions students have. When we partner with schools to deliver study efficiency courses, even the school management and teachers often have these same misconceptions.

Studying well is about a lot of factors and habits. If you’re already an excellent top achieving student, it might be much easier for you to improve because there are already many good habits formed. However, for many (most) students, to slowly break bad habits, feeling confident enough to take the “risk” in trying something new can take weeks, months, or even years!

This is why there are so few efficient students.

First step articles

These are some articles that cover some great first steps towards becoming a better learner.

Limit on your learning
Active vs. Passive Learning
Can’t study on a bad day? Can’t concentrate sometimes? Don’t know the content because you have a bad teacher/lecturer? Find it hard to learn in…
Read More
1 2

Specialist courses on studying efficiently

If you’re looking for the most targeted and comprehensive way to improve, an actual course of studying is easily the most effective. Check out our industry-leading course on studying efficiency here.

More resources

I post hundreds of videos and images around effective studying techniques on my social media almost every day, as well as holding regular live “study clinics”.

Here are my social links:

Make sure to follow these channels so you get a constant drip-feed of useful advice throughout your week. This is a great way to make your social media time slightly more productive!

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About the author
Justin Sung
Justin Sung
Justin is a medical doctor, University of Auckland graduate, published research author, certified teacher, and founder of JTT. He has assisted thousands of students into healthcare careers since 2011, making him New Zealand's individually most experienced medical entry expert. He regularly works with schools and organisations to help students and professionals learn more effectively.

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