5 Pieces of Advice for Studying a Subject You Hate

Unless you love a subject, studying is not the most enjoyable practice in the world. Who likes to solve math problems when your mind struggles to fit numbers together? Who wants to memorize historical facts when you are not interested in the time period? Everyone has topics they love and hate, but students still need to study for both. If you are struggling to keep up in classes that bring you no joy, here are a few study tips to make it more fun (or at least, less miserable).

Reframe your thinking

Ask yourself why you do not enjoy a particular subject. Don’t stop at answers such as, “I don’t like numbers,” “Literature won’t help me,” or “I find chemical formulas too confusing.” Those answers only address symptoms of a problem, not the root of it. Maybe you do not like math because you struggle with certain processes. Perhaps you find literature difficult because the prose is in a style that takes you extra time to read. When you can contextualize why you do not like something, you have more opportunities to amend your study habits in ways that help the material make more sense to you.

There is also the possibility that you do not like the way your instructors teach the subject. Literature, math, science, history, and other topics can and should be exciting. Not only can an enthusiastic teacher improve your enjoyment of a subject, but they can also better help you get to the bottom of why you might not understand something.

Learn to see the value in it

There is value in everything, so dig deeper into the ways it could apply. You may love video games more than solving mx+b=y right now, but math is essential to video game developers. Do not limit yourself to how it might benefit you in a professional sense later in life, either: how does it help you now, day-to-day? You may never need to draw a diagram of a molecule ever again, but learning science teaches you concrete things—such as how the world works—and more abstract things, like how to approach solving problems systematically. Literature can give you insight into linguistic tools, and it can also teach you how metaphors affect daily ideas and how to think in new ways.

Adapt for your learning style

Everyone has a different learning style. There are seven agreed upon varieties: visual (sight), aural (listening), verbal (speaking), physical (kinesthetic), logical (mathematical), social (interpersonal interactions), and solitary (self-study). The kind of learner you are is in regard to how you absorb and process information. Visual learners may do well with presentations and videos, physical learners might enjoy live-action games, and aural students probably learn best when listening to information spoken out loud.

Unfortunately, it is difficult for teachers to accommodate each kind of student. If you are an aural learner with a teacher that relies heavily on presentations, maybe you could read the questions on your homework assignments out loud, record them on a device, and then play them back. Many students endure many years of school before realizing that their learning styles may contradict what methods their teachers resort to, so spend some time assessing how you learn best. When you do not struggle to comprehend information, the chances of you enjoying a subject increase.

Try other methods

Consider giving other methods a try. One way many students attest to is teaching a subject to learn it. Reading, listening, and watching are passive activities, but teaching forces you to actively think about the material and explain it to someone else (in ways they can understand) that is holding you accountable. Teaching a subject to someone who already knows the subject matter can also correct you when you are wrong and ask the right questions to steer your thought processes.

Get extra help

A little extra help may be just what you need to understand a subject better. Your school may have student-to-student services, or you can hire a professional. If you only have small questions or cannot commit to regular meetings, platforms like Studypool allow you to post questions for a small fee and connect with qualified individuals who can answer them for you. Forming study groups with friends and classmates is also a practical way to make studying enjoyable and ask the same questions everyone else does (but may be too afraid to ask in class).

Learning how to learn is arguably one of the most important things you will ever do. Studying for a subject you hate will force you to do this, so try to think of it as an opportunity instead of a drag. How will you study for classes you do not (currently) enjoy?

Posted in Education.

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