Learning how to study for UPSC is similar to learning how to study a new language because not only is it a test of knowledge but also a form of chrysalis that helps an Officer emerge. With the assistance of Chris Lonsdale, a psychologist who has over 20 years of experience in research. We can attempt to refine our approaches and ensure that we receive the best input:output ratio of learning through applying his principles of learning.
Lonsdale talks about 5 Core Principles of language learning that can still be adapted to our learning for UPSC.
Focus on content related to you:
The first and most important thing to do is to go through the syllabus with a fine toothed comb and attempt to understand what it is that the syllabus contains. The content is the basis of your entire preparation. It should be well understood before you proceed with the actual studying.
Use diverse means to communicate an idea. You can attempt to teach a friend. This is beneficial because not only are you learning it through your preparation, you’re also gaining a deeper insight into a topic through communicating an idea in your own words. This will help consolidate the idea in your mind. If you cannot teach it to someone, pretend you’re giving an important lecture. This will aid you get into the teacher mindset which is useful for seeing things in a different light.
If you do not understand a topic, you can try to find a context for that concept. For example, Environmental Impact Assessment is a program whose importance can only be understood in the wider context of industrial pollution and its wide ranging impacts. While you may understand that any topic relating to the environment requires immediate redress considering the current environmental reality. You might not be able to place the Environmental Impact Assessment as a shield against pollution and damage to the environment by industries.
This component deal with the effects of exercise on learning. The benefits of exercise come directly from its ability to reduce insulin resistance, reduce inflammation, and stimulate the release of growth factors—chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells, the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and even the abundance and survival of new brain cells. Indirectly, exercise improves mood and sleep, and reduces stress and anxiety. Problems in these areas frequently cause or contribute to cognitive impairment.
You have to be in a psychologically fit state to ensure maximum learning. Mood is a factor that deeply affects the nature of learning. Learning when in the throes of negative emotion retards information retention and impedes your ability to recall information.
Relaxed and happy moods promote better retention and recall capabilities. A calm mind or a happy mood augment learning.
It is important to remember the meaning of the idea. To learn it in all connotations. The way we understand the concept or idea can make a difference between whether you’re just like everybody else or if you have what it takes to make the cut. The relevance our understanding has with regards to what we learn and the level of attention we give to the concepts and ideas vary. We must therefore invest in different and innovative ways to remember. For us, it can be the make or break.
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