Okay, you’re going to study for the SAT, the ACT, your AP tests, and any-test-ever-my-life-is-studying. So obviously the first thing you do is all of your other homework. Then you walk the dog, maybe get some food—basically anything except actually sitting down and studying.
What can you do to combat this gut-wrenching resistance to studying? You make it interesting.
This may sound overly optimistic like Princess Unikitty saying nothing can ever be unhappy, but the best thing you can do to motivate yourself to study is to find what makes the subject interesting.
This sounds confusing but let’s go through an example. Say, you’re in math class. You’re studying sine graphs, and you’re bored out of your mind because you’d much rather be out skateboarding, or listening to music, or going to the fair with your friends. So here’s the cool part, sine graphs are actually involved in all of those activities. When you skate in a circular pool, you’re skating in a sine pattern. The radio waves transmitting your favorite 9.33 tunes are sine waves that can be graphed. The Ferris wheel at the fair travels in a circular pattern, and the cars’ individual heights can be calculated over time with a sine graph. Suddenly, what you’ve been learning in school is all around you in real life. It’s important to know, because it helps you understand the physical world outside your textbooks. And when it’s important to know, you’re more likely to put in more work to actually learn the subject (aka studying).
Good teachers often know this simple little secret, and take time to make the information applicable to student’s lives. I once had an AP U.S. History teacher that made it a literal requirement on a project to “be interesting”. But even if you don’t have a teacher like that, you can play a game with yourself to figure out what makes a certain subject interesting. Does Big Brother from 1984 remind you of your parents taking your phone away? Does Howard Gardener’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences help you understand how to study? There is something interesting about every subject in school, otherwise they wouldn’t teach it. So forget about the idea that school isn’t cool, it is. It helps us understand the world around us.
That isn’t to say that you will find something interesting in every single school assignment. Believe me the 50th algebra problem will bore anybody, and it’s hard to get past the 345th page of Fydor Dostoevsky’s Crime & Punishment, but finding interesting concepts will help you find your passion. Which is not only helpful when writing college essays (they pretty much all ask about your passions) but in life when you’re trying to figure out what to do with it.
Finding interesting applications of what you’re studying in class helps motivate you to want to learn it, thus interesting = studying. Accept when you can’t find a topic interesting, but have conversations with other people when you can. It will make it easier to start studying, and (if you’re an interpersonal learner) help you better understand the content. Besides, when you find things interesting, it makes you a more interesting person.
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About Cassidy Mayeda
Cassidy recently graduated from San Dieguito High School Academy located in Southern California, and is looking forward to studying at Barnard College at Columbia University next fall. She loves pretty much everything from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, to classic American Literature, but above all learning new things and meeting new people. Like her older brother Zack (who also works at Magoosh!), she also enjoys drinking copious amounts of coffee.
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