5 Study Tips to Make Tough Topics Easier to Learn

When you encounter a difficult topic or subject – do you Freeze? or Procrastinate?

how to study difficult subjects

Well, there’s a study from Barbara Oakley which explains why it happens. As Barbara Oakley, PhD, explains ”our first impulse is usually to focus as hard as we can on the details of a difficult subject”.

What Students Currently Do ?

  • Laser sharp approach on details
  • Learn and Cram everything that’s written
  • Unable to make a meaning out of the written material
  • At the end of the session, get themselves confused !

This is exactly what Neuroscientists call narrow-beam approach.

What Students Should Do ?

  • Focus on Broad areas first
  • Understand how the topic explains itself
  • Consume the information in small chunks

Here are 5 Study Tips to Make Tough Topics Easier to Learn

Browse -> Divide -> Pause
Compare -> Practice

Not the internet, LOL. Keep a notepad and a pencil/pen handy while you browse through the chapter. At this moment, you should focus on Headings, Sub-Headings and any infographics (images with pictures). You just laid the track for your brain to cover the whole journey.

Divide and Rule
This is a proven way to win any battle. Isn’t it? History people! Now go through the headings and subheadings and see how they connect, what information is common among them. Formulas, Key terms, Characters or any patters you may find. You just fed your brain with material marked “handle with care”.

Pause and Recall
Take a breath and recall whatever you have noted on the notepad. After you’ve read a page or solved a problem, close the book and pause to recall the main underlying ideas. Don’t rush on to the next problem before you’ve given the concepts you’ve just learned time to sink in, and don’t confuse rereading with recalling.

Use Simple Comparisons:
When you learn a simple topic, you give it a way to connect with the other topics. That’s the time when you can create simple comparisons between the concepts (especially when you study Social Studies for Class IX or X). The connected concepts would stick and stay in your head forever without you even realizing them.

Space your studies and practice
Your brain is like a muscle that needs alternating periods of exercise and recovery to synthesize new information and ideas. With difficult subjects especially, you need to spread your studies out—studying some every day rather than cramming during a few marathon study sessions.

As a student, do you struggle with learning new or difficult subjects? Tell us how you overcome learning challenges in the comments below. Parents or Learning Coaches, share these tips with your students, join the conversation, and let us know if the tips helped!


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