Archive for October 8th, 2014
HD 23: Why Cramming Doesn’t Work
Posted by almuqarraboon in Self-Development on October 8, 2014
This weeks homework:
Memorize 4 new pages – Done
Review all of Surat An Noor – Done
Review all of Surat Al An’aam – Dun, dun, dun…
It’s almost 11:30PM. Class is tomorrow. I’ve been reviewing Surat al An’aam all day (with many breaks), and I have 7 pages left. The surah is 22 pages long, and I left basically all of it for today. Bad idea. I forgot the law of diminishing returns. After about 3 or 4 hours of review, I seemed to have reached my threshold for the day. I didn’t realize this though, so I kept reviewing more pages. Then I realized that I was making silly mistakes and the amount of review that was good enough for the first few pages was nowhere near as ‘enough’ for these later pages. I think my brain was tired. On top of that, I was trying to control the anxiety that I felt in my chest. Argh. I really hope the few hours I have in the morning are enough to polish off the surah inshaAllah. I really want to show my teacher that I can take on more per week, and maybe even come to her more than once a week (which would only make sense to do after she increases my workload). But this is what happens when there are so many days in between classes. Motivation dips and comes back up when class is near. Okay, so now for points to remember for next time.
1. Don’t cram – Start the homework asap and divide it so that you are doing equal amounts every day. The last day or last few hours before class should be devoted to a comprehensive review of all of that week’s homework. It shouldn’t be a time for starting homework.
2. Don’t overestimate your ability – I thought this surah would be easy for me. Well, it would be a lot easier if I started earlier, but I’m not at the level where I can start and finish it all today.
3. Quality – It’s better to start earlier not only for the sake of higher-quality review, but also so you can actually spend quality time with the surah. Last week, I didn’t cram as badly for surat al a’raaf and I enjoyed taking my time with it. I had fun finding the mutashaabihaat (within the Qur’an and within the surah) and noting down their differences with my post-its in the margins. I took my time praying with the ayaat, and reconnecting with the ones that I had a special relationship with.
4. Divide and spread – Even if you have time in your schedule (like I have a complete day off right before my class on Thursdays), it’s a bad idea to cram because your brain can only handle so much in one go. It’s easier for you to do less, over a longer amount of time. If you do an entire surah in one day, you might remember it for the exam but you’ll forget it soon after because you didn’t pin it down. Pinning it down puts it in your long-term memory.
5. Review old mistakes – Give yourself time to review the mistakes you made the last time you were tested in this surah, otherwise you will definitely make many of the same mistakes again.
6. Re-memorizing to fix hardened mistakes – I need extra time connecting pages because it has recently occurred to me that I didn’t do this properly when memorizing! I can connect the first five or six pages of a surah really well, but from there, I start having to either think really hard, or draw pictures in my mind about the meaning. I can’t afford to do that, I need to do a bunch of reps to connect the pages of all of the surahs.
7. Time to clean – I mark up my Qur’an A LOT. I never noticed how much I do that until today. I translate words and underline and circle tashkeel mistakes. My teacher adds to the markings by catching more mistakes and pointing out tajweed errors. The markings were overwhelming and before I knew it, I put the review in the backseat and started paying more attention to what I could erase. It was that whole ‘clean my room spotless before I start studying for my Final Exams because the two are very related’ phenomenon. (This feeling of being overwhelmed only happened because I was already nervous!)
8. Taking breaks – while this usually helps, it didn’t do much for me today. I took many breaks, some intentional and some unintentional (random, unexpected nap anyone?) but they were becoming less and less productive. In an effort to do something ‘different’ (see Pomodoro Technique), I ended up just finding things that were wasting my time. The only break my brain wanted was a full-night’s rest.
9. Insincerity – reviewing poorly is a sign of insincerity in hifdh. If I am reviewing just to get by on my exams from my teacher, then that won’t take as much. If, however, I am reviewing for the sake of Allah, then I will review with ihsaan and eventually be able to recite without a mushaf, and that is a different realm of review altogether.
Well, these basically all have to do with not cramming, but that’s a pretty important message so I’m okay with that. There’s probably more but I can’t think of anything more, and I want to sleep so I can wake up early for the rest of the review.