How To Know What Subject to Study First During A Study Session

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A common mistake among many students is studying any subject or topic they feel like when they have 2, 3, or more subjects/courses or topics to read on a particular day or for the semester.

To get the best from your study session, the importance of starting with the right subject or topic cannot be overemphasized. Assuming that today, you have 3 to 4 subjects on your personal study timetable to read; how do you go about tackling each of them? Which should you start with? A calculation subject or theory course? Should you start with the more difficult subject/topic or the simpler one?

In this article, I will be showing you how to get the best from your study session when you have many subjects or topics to digest.

Let’s now dive in fully.

Brian Tracy, in his book, Eat that Frog explained that your ‘frog’ is your biggest, most important task; the one you are most likely to put off if you don’t do something about it now. What Brian Tracy called frog is what I have called here, ‘rock’. Your rocks are your tasks waiting to be done.

Tracy went further to state, “If you have to eat two frogs, eat the ugliest one first.” In line with Tracy, if you have two, three, four or more rocks to break, start from the hardest and biggest one.

When you study, start with the biggest and hardest work – courses with higher credit load or unit points- and end with simpler courses (or courses with lower credit load).

As a student, your rocks refer to the various subjects, assignments, project, etc. that you have to start and complete. This means that if 2, 3 or more subjects, homework, projects, etc., are seeking your attention, you must begin from the most important and hardest one.

When you study your books for the term/semester or read for your examinations, start from the hardest topics. It is already a mistake if you start with simpler subjects or topics that you can easily grasp and understand, while there are more difficult subjects which will take longer time and greater effort to break down and fully digest. 

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Why You Need To Start From The Hardest Subject

Now, you may ask, “Why should I start with the simpler subject or topic?”

That is an intelligent question and here are my simple reasons or answers.

1. Your energy level is highest at the beginning of each study session

Whether you are a day or night reader, your energy level is at the peak when you are just starting to study. The moment you begin and continue reading, your energy level and enthusiasm start to drop until your brain cells tell you it is time to stop.

The harder the topic, subject or course, the higher the energy level needed to break and digest it, and your energy level is highest at the beginning. How will it look like when you pick up a more difficult topic/subject to read during your study session after you have almost used up the whole of the time and energy on less difficult ones? Of course, you will feel discouraged as you no longer have the level of passion, readiness, zeal and energy it requires. So, it is more effective to hit the hardest rock when the energy level is still high. Do you get it?

2. Breaking your biggest/hardest rock takes time

Another reason why you have to study harder topics, subjects, or courses first is that, they usually require great deal of time to master. For instance, the time frame it will take to master the drawing of the human heart cannot be the same with that for mastering that of the stomach.

This applies to other topics and subjects. If you leave a subject that you need to spend about 3 weeks to fully master till it’s only 2 weeks to examination, how can you read and master it before examination day? It becomes impossible because the brain is not a magic box; I mean it does not work magically. Doing this will lead to cramming which is usually ineffective and disappointing.

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A simple question! A block of rock and a block of clay, which will require much more energy and time to break down into pieces? Obviously, it is the block of rock. This is because rock is harder than clay; isn’t it? Similarly, harder subjects or better still, more difficult topics will need more energy and longer time to study, understand, and absorb by the brain.

For the above two reasons, spending your time and fresh energy on simple topics/subjects/courses at the beginning of your study session and doing the harder ones last is a wrong method of learning. The rule here is, “Begin with the biggest and hardest rocks first before the soft ones.”

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Just before I conclude, read this. It’s very important. The principle I just shared now is on a general note. There may be some exceptions to this rule. There may be some individuals who start with more difficult subjects or topics first before they can pay attention to the harder ones. So my advice here is that, know what works for you. 

What is your contribution to what you just read? Share it in the comment section.

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