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How to study a subject you don't like

Studying a subject you don't like
It's always tricky getting started studying, but especially when you have to study for a subject that you don't like at all. But don't worry, you're not alone. In this article you will learn how to deal with the problem and get some tips and tricks to make sure you can pass any exam, even for a subject you're not fond of.

Figure out why you don't like the subject

Write down the reasons why you have difficulties in a certain subject and cross out the factors which you cannot influence. For example, you may not like the teacher, or maybe you're just not interested in the topic. It could be that you consistently get bad marks in one subject and you just don't have any motivation anymore.

Get to the root of the problem

When you have figured out what it is about the subject that you don't like, and why you don't want to learn it, now you can think about how to possibly solve these problems.
  • If you find the topic boring, try to find something within it which interests you. For example, you may find it difficult to learn words for French class, but you enjoy listening to music. Try finding a song you like in French, print out the lyrics and learn these words diligently.
  • Sometimes the way the teacher teaches and your way of learning just don't go together. In this case, try to understand the learning objectives and take enough time at home so that you can repeat the topics until you understand them. Maybe also look for additional resources online, like a Youtube video explaining a topic which might make more sense to you than your teacher.
  • If you're struggling to get good grades, set more realistic goals. You can't get the best grades in every subject; everyone has their strengths and weaknesses! Set specific goals and try to achieve them. You can even create a checklist where you can tick off the goals you have achieved.

Keep your goals in mind

If you ever find yourself sitting at your desk and not wanting to start studying, it can help to remind yourself of the goals. Ask yourself why you have to do this and why it will help you in the future. Maybe you don't want to be a mathematician, but studying maths will help you get into university in the future, or prove that you are capable of problem solving.

Create a plan

In order to avoid stress and so you don't end up being under time pressure or losing track of things, it makes sense to create your own revision or study plan. Set yourself concrete and realistic goals to work towards. In this way, you can organise your time better and work more purposefully. Before you start studying, you should collect all the material on a given topic and get an overview. You then divide the material into smaller units so that you are not overwhelmed by the amount and can tick off areas that have been completed. Use colours and an appealing presentation to strengthen your motivation.

The key to creating your personal revision plan is being honest with yourself about your learning pace, progress, and motivation, because only then can you plan and learn successfully. For more information about how to create a revision plan, check out our other blogs.

Be sure to plan breaks from studying! Your brain needs breaks to recover and to organise and process new information. Open the window, listen to your favourite song, make yourself some tea or take a little walk to clear your head. Breaks like this can work wonders!

Trick yourself

If you're really having a hard time, it sometimes helps to trick yourself. Make an effort to study for just five minutes, after which you can decide whether you want to continue or do something else and try again later. Often after five minutes you realise that it's not that bad, or you'll think, "Now I've already started, I'll just finish this part."

Learning bits and pieces can also help. This way you don't get overwhelmed by a mountain of work, but set small goals until you reach the last one. For example, you can make it a point to read the first chapter of a book, memorise 30 little words, or work on the summary for 15 minutes. Afterwards you feel good because you have achieved something. The variety also helps keep you motivated.

Find the right learning method

It is also possible that you have not yet found the right learning method for you! The learning method can also vary from subject to subject, so each person has to find out for themselves how to learn most efficiently.

Have you ever heard of the the Pomodoro Technique or the SQ3R method? The Pomodoro technique is about finding a good rhythm between study and break units, whereas the SQ3R method aims to understand texts better. It's not about speed, it's about capturing the content of a text and being able to remember it for a long time. You will find helpful articles on the blog that show you what type of learner you are and which methods might suit you best.

If you are slowly losing sight of the material and need a change, there are a few tricks you can use to make learning more exciting.

If you need to learn languages, find a song and try to understand its meaning. In this way you learn a lot about grammar, tenses and the sentence structure of a language. You can also watch a film in your target language and set the subtitles. Depending on your level of comprehension, you can either put the subtitles in your native language or the language you are trying to learn. If the subtitles are in English or your native language, you will practice your listening skills. If you put the subtitles in your target language, you will practice both your reading and listening skills.

If you're writing a history, politics, or biology exam, you can look for a documentary that covers the topic. Ask your teacher if they have any recommendations.

If you have to study for a maths test, it can help to form a study group. This way you can help and motivate each other, and celebrate together when you have successfully passed the exam. Small rewards like this can help keep you going and not giving up. To read more about study groups and how to work together towards a common goal, check out our blog.
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