My son is now going to class II and when me and my wife met his teacher to collect his report card, she was quite happy to hand it over it to us. She told us a variety of things regarding him, how he has improved in his conduct, how he fared in his studies and how he needs to maintain regularity in his studies. And there I got the idea to write this article.
She mentioned that wherever my son was not comfortable such as making sentences in Hindi or if he needs improvement in calculations etc, we should make a habit to be REGULAR with him so he doesn’t lose the rhythm. For him to make an improvement in his studies, we need to sit with him on a regular basis and make him practice.
I think the habit of doing anything on a regular basis makes the person a real winner. Whenever you start anything new, there is always an excitement to start and make that thing work and enjoy. However, gradually the excitement starts to fade away and over a period of time you start to lose interest and in majority of the times, you give up. The reason that most of us do that is simply because giving up is so easy. Mentally, you make your mind to not do that activity and then stop doing it. What is difficult is to continue and consistently carry on doing it.
If you look at athletes or any other top sportsman, you would always notice that they are the people who have been extremely consistent in their craft/sporting activity and it is only because of the consistency they become Champions. They relentlessly, spend time over and over again to improve their sport and its only because of the consistency, they are able to reach the top.
As per a renowned author, Malcolm Gladwell, stalwarts like Beethoven, Michelangelo, Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, Sachin Tendulkar or any other elite performer, either in sports or theatre or profession have reached the top only after spending 10,000 hours in practice. Gladwell drew this conclusion after a thorough research when he studied the habits of elite performers and realized that 10,000 hours is a must for anyone to master his/her craft.What it means is that for anyone to master a craft be anything, ranging from sports to profession or theatre, you need to consistently revising or re-doing that.
I remember my days when I used to study for my CA exams and one day my father gave me a formula to crack the exams successfully. He told me about a very famous and thoroughly researched principle of “Memory Retention and the Forgetting Curve”. Our brain houses many memories but why is that we remember some things very strongly and have a difficult time recalling others. As per a hypothesis by psychologist Hermann Ebbinghauss, forgetting happens most rapidly after learning a new thing, and it slows do
If you look at the curve, you would notice that the power of the brain to retain any new knowledge gets depleted quite quickly and in a span of days, 50% of the thing we learnt fades away from our memory. However, if the newly learned thing is revised, the retention starts to increase and remains with us for a longer period of time.
When this logic is put to use in any field of study, it derives exactly the same results. You start learning something new and unless it is revised, you wouldn’t be able to retain it. As per the Curve, when exposed to the same material repeatedly, it takes less time to pull the information from your long-term memory.
Preparation for Exams
When we start to prepare for our exams, a majority of us spend a large part of our time reading new topics and gaining understanding of the difficult subjects. For example, we will pick up Direct Tax as a subject and for few weeks we shall continue to prepare that subject and finish the course. Then we will pick up two more subjects and finish the course and after that two more subjects. This goes on and on till the time we finish all the subjects and after that we shall pick up the subject that we had finished the first (i.e. Direct tax) and revise it. Then we will pick up the second subject, revise it and move on to the other.
If we apply the logic of the Memory Retention and Forgetting Curve, what typically happens is that once you had completed the Direct Tax course, your level to retain the subject goes down and gradually it fades away from the memory. When you pick it up again for revision, say after 5-6 weeks you would have forgotten a large portion and then you have to spend time again to revisit the topic and revise it. This process takes a lot of time and we are therefore, required to spend long hours studying to maintain the same level of retention.
What if there is a process by which we ensure that when we are moving from one subject to another, we don’t lose what we learnt. What if there is a process that ensures that as and when we are learning new topics, we are also retaining the old ones and therefore, after a point of time the level of retention remains absolutely constant. If you are looking for this particular answer, read the steps below and follow them religiously without fail. I can assure you of great levels of success if you follow these steps:
1. Take a small diary that is easy carry with you and make it your Notes Diary. In your Notes Diary, you should start to write all the important points whenever you are reading and studying for any subject. For example, when you are studying for Direct Tax, very briefly mention the key and very important points that you feel are really important to remember for your exams.
2. Don’t write everything in your Notes Diary. The points that are critical and difficult should be written in the diary. The areas where you feel you are weak and if you think that any point if you remember well, would make your life easy in that subject should form part of this diary. For example, if you solved any question on Capital Gains where apart from applying the particular section of the IT Act, you were also required to apply some other concept, then you should mention that concept in your Notes Diary.
3. The Notes Diary should be maintained for each subject you are preparing for your exams. Even if any subject is completely theoretical, maintain the Notes Diary for that subject also. For theory papers, you can write down key words for the topics and sub-topics that are relevant. Just make it a habit to make a Notes Diary for each subject.
4. When making the schedule for your exam preparation, take out at least 1 hour in the morning and one hour in the evening for revision of the Notes Diary. This period is what I call as the ‘Revision Hour’.
5. The revision should be done before you start your actual studies and should be religiously done for one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening. For example, if in any particular week you have picked up Costing as the subject for preparation, then before you start your studies in the morning, pick up your Notes Diary for any subject and revise the concepts.
6. What you can also do is divide half an hour each for one subject in your Revision Hour, so that you can revise two subjects simultaneously while you are preparing for Costing.
7. Do this continuously over the period of time you are working for your exams. The Notes Diary should be prepared when you are actually studying that subject and the process of revision should take place during the examinations break. You can also have the Revision Hour even when you are undergoing articleship.
8. Remember, when you are on your exams leave, you SHOULD NOT compromise on the Revision Hour. There would be days when you may get limited time for studies and you would be tempted to avoid the Revision Hour. But, don’t let that temptation disrupt you from your schedule.
9. What this process would ensure is that your level of retention doesn’t fall and by revising again and again, every day you wouldn’t let your memory fade away with the important piece of studies. If you make this process a habit, after a point of time you would find that you remember everything and the confidence level just before exams is going to be at an all together different level.
Everyday, as part of your Affirmations (Persistence is the Key), affirm to yourself putting 2 Revision hours daily in your preparation for examinations. Let your subconscious mind be fed with this thought and then it will eventually become a habit. A habit that you would remember for the rest of your life and obviously, in a good spirit.
Wishing you all the best and true success…
Authored by Nimish Goel (www.nimishgoel.com), a qualified chartered accountant who’s passion is to coach young chartered accountants and aspiring students achieve the best in their life. Nimish used to work with EY and PwC in India and has also worked with KPMG in Europe. He now runs his own consulting company and runs a blog www.nimishgoel.com. He can be reached for any queries and issues on his blog.