Exam season is upon us. Everyone is trying their best to get the most out of revision time. Here are some killer study tips, backed by the latest research and tested personally, on how to learn effectively and efficiently.

1. Get the best software

You know what they say, the bad workman is bad because he has bad tools. To maximise your productivity, make sure to update all the software on your laptop and phone. Analysis shows that getting the latest version of Garageband will help you write your essay 50% faster than before. Don’t be complacent, be sure to modernise the periphery stuff like Java. Nothing but the latest VLC for the well-tuned machine that is your brain.

2. Study in the library

If you put someone in a rat hole, they’ll act like a rat. Optimising your study environment is the best way to take productivity to the next level. Arrive at the library early and open all your revision documents on your laptop. Leave the laptop there, and head back to your room for a 6–8 hour power nap. Being rested is key. Go to the CR for tea, cookies and quality chat to boost your energy levels. It’s springtime, so play some cricket or football. Sports are a great way to get those endorphins flowing. Maybe get a brief game of Settlers of Catan going. (Combine this tip with point 3.)

3. Eat right

The brain requires nutrients just like your muscles do; at dinner make sure to load up on brain food like sticky toffee pudding and toad in the hole. Head to the bar to give yourself some time to recover from the day’s learning: anywhere between 7–10 beers (depending on body mass) will help you become laser-focused on all that revision. When you are sufficiently hydrated, go back to the library to collect your laptop (see point 2). If you’re packing up at 3am, you’ve definitely had a productive day.

4. Get the right resources

For my subject, Sociology (6th edition) by Anthony Giddens is especially useful. Revised and updated throughout, it provides an authoritative overview of recent global developments and new ideas in sociology. Classic debates are also given careful coverage, with even the most complex ideas explained in an engaging way. The book is about 5 cm thick: perfect height for me to use it as a laptop stand.

5. Take effective breaks

All work and no play makes Jia a dull boy. Spend a Sunday climbing. Take in the silence of wilderness, the buzz of pulling off a risky climb, the crunch of snow underfoot, the golden glow of a cold spring evening: there is magic in balancing out the whole of your being.

Bonus points if you take a fall that would fit right into the Let Me Show You How It’s Not Done handbook. It’s not procrastination if it’s recovery, right?

There is a podcast called the Dirtbag Diaries that puts into words many of the things I feel about the outdoors. This line, for instance, has been particularly poignant in light of recent events:

I think I latch onto the activities that intimidate me because they offer the most room for growth. Each time I shove myself into one of my fears, the the distance between the person I am and the best person I can be grows shorter

At the same time, be safe while you shove yourself into your fears. Wear a helmet. Learn first-aid like Ed Wheatcroft. Thanks Ed.

These pictures are taken over a couple of days in the Peak District. I’ve also put some photos online at https://flic.kr/s/aHsksBHur3 to apply for grants over the summer. If you see them and have thoughts please give me a shout.

6. No social media

It’s a distraction!

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