Look at my horse, my horse knows how to study

I don’t have a video of you studying (that would be creepy). But I do have a video of this here horse. So let’s pretend you are the horse…and that there is the Apple of Wisdom that you must digest to pass your exam.

See how you’re being schooled by this apple? That’s you – trying to bite off more than you can chew; when you are overambitious in your study plans, it takes much more time and effort than it should and drastically reduces your productivity and focus.


00:01 “Ooooh look! A tasty, tasty apple.”

This is you, full of youthful enthusiasm, sitting down to study everything. You’ll show that maths teacher who doesn’t believe in you, you’ll show your frustrated parents just what you’re capable of, and you’ll show the world that you can study more than anyone ever has before.

00.05: First attempt.

You start well. You take a giant bite out of your studies and this is going just as you…

00.07: First failure.

Shoot. It was too much to take on at once. No matter, you still got this…

00.09: Scrounging around lost on the floor.

Wait… what was I doing again?

00.15: Second attempt.

STUDYING! Alrighty. Small set back. I can do this…

00.17 Frustration of owner.


00.24 Denial sets in.

This is tougher than you first thought it would be. You could try another strategy, like – I don’t know – cutting it up or something, but no, that would probably take waaaay more time so you might as well just stick to plan A. Swallow the damn thing whole.

00.33 Ninth attempt.

This is still exactly the way to go. Time to dig in and keep repeating the exact same method again and again.

00.35 Owner becomes more frustrated.

Refuse the advise of the outside world. Stick to plan A. You can still swallow the whole thing whole dammit.

00.49 Hits a (literal) wall.

Urghhhh this is SO MUCH MORE EFFORT than I was expecting.

01:47 Still going…

Alrighty, maybe cutting up the apple would have been a better idea but you’ve committed now, people are judging you so you’re just going to keep on stubbornly going – trying to own it and pretend like this was a brilliant idea all along.

02:07 Still goin’…

Yep. You just drooled everywhere. You’ve made a right ass of yourself, but the end is in sight.

3:13 Tries to eat camera?

3 mins and counting to complete a task that should have taken 10 seconds. Yep. Should’ve just cut it into small pieces in the first place.

What’s the lesson?


Just cut up the bloody apple up

Key Takeaway #1:

Break studying down into manageable chunks. Pick a much smaller, more manageable sub-topic and focus on completing that. Once you’ve completed it, celebrate the success (by getting yourself an apple?) and then set the next sub-topic.

Learn more about the best way to revise for exams (hint: it’s about how you cut the apple)

Key Takeaway #2:                                        

Respect the size of the task. Be realistic. Studying takes a lot more time and effort than people think. As a general rule, it’ll take you three times longer than you think to study something well. But if you learn it correctly, you won’t have to study it again and again because it’ll enter your long-term memory. Here’s a quick piece on how to get it into your long-term memory.


Key Takeaway #3:

‘Insanity Is Doing the Same Thing Over and Over Again and Expecting Different Results’ Albert Einstein

Don’t keep on using the same ineffective method! Studying Smart is all about making the most of your time and not just staring blankly at a wall. Try these study hacks for more tips on how to study less, and grade higher.


Lesson learnt?

It takes 1000 small steps to climb a mountain. Looking at the summit will make you feel dizzy and overwhelmed when you are just setting out on a big task. So break it down into lots of small, manageable steps and just focus on one at a time.

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Written by,
Founder of The Profs - the award-winning education startup. Previously an international tutor with a prestigious global client base, Richard now writes about how to tutor online and his experiences in higher education.
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Published on November 1st, 2017 by from
Any opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone. The Profs does not guarantee the accuracy of any of information on our blog and accepts no responsibility for views of the author.
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