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How to Study for a Subject You Hate

By Edited Jun 23, 2016 0 0

Why Even Bother?

Sooner or later, you are going to have to learn academic subjects that you don't really enjoy.  Chances are you figured this out in high school, or even sooner.  If you go to college, this will almost certainly pop up in your first couple years.  If you're an English major, you will eventually run into a chemistry course.  If you are a Computer Science major, you'll somehow end up in a room full of classic British literature.

Therefore the reason you "have to bother" with boring subjects is that they are needed to get something you really want.  Think of them as a barrier to entry.  They're there to weed out those unworthy.  Make your quest seem as noble as you want.  Then when you've finished mentally preparing yourself, grit your teeth and start learning.

Make It Interesting

This is perhaps the most important and effective thing that you can do if you are trying to learn new material.  Of course, it's also the most difficult.  You may say to yourself "but if it was interesting, I wouldn't find it boring."  But have you really tried to make things interesting?

It's going to differ from course to course, but nearly every subject has some significant redeemable factors that make it notable to modern life.  If you are having trouble getting into biology, then start researching aspects of this science that apply to your everyday life.  Learn about how exercise effects the cells in your body and why you feel the way you do before and after a workout.  If you look more into these subjects, you will become more engrossed and learn naturally.  And when you are learning naturally, you've solved your entire problem.


But sometimes there's no way around it.  Some subjects are just plain boring.  Everyone has topics that just don't interest them, and whether it be accounting or physics or geometry, sometimes you can't make things more appealing, and just want to learn the material fast.  If that's your situation, read on.

Simplify Things Down

The next best thing that you can do while studying for boring subjects is to simplify your material down as much as you possibly can.

If it's a math class that is giving you trouble, then break down the problem then watch a video on the entire process.  Then, break down each and every step of the problem.  Even the most complex of algebraic expressions can be brought down to simple mathematical problems that you can punch into a calculator.  If you aren't at that point, then you haven't broken it down and simplified it far enough.

But what about subjects that don't follow formulas?  What happens for classes like history or psychology, where there are terms and events of significance you are expected to understand?

Once again, you need to simplify, but in a different way this time.  Go through your textbook or review papers, and find some material you need to remember.  Now get out a blank piece of paper and re-write the material.  You are not allowed to copy the text at all, and everything has to be in your own words.

This technique is helpful because instead of just blindly copying a definition out of a book, you have to actually think about what it means.  By not using the original words, you have to stop and consider what each part of the definition means.  Even if you find the subject boring, you are then at least understanding it.  And it's a lot more fun to be in a boring class you find easy then a boring class you can't begin to comprehend.

Re-Teach Yourself

Perhaps when you are in high school you had someone tell you about the effectiveness of teaching someone else.  By showing someone else how to do something, you have to think about and explain things out loud.  It makes you consider aspects of the material that you would otherwise not think about.

But let's be honest- this isn't always a viable option.  If you are still in high school, your parents want to hear about how your day went, not how to convert moles to grams and back again.  If you're in college, your roommate has their own problems to worry about, and just aren't interested in the symbolism found in Shakespeare's finest work.  And if you live alone, talking your dog or cat will just make the neighbor's concerned.

So instead, there is an alternative suggestion- write a letter to yourself.  Make it sort of like a letter to the past you.  The "you" before you enrolled in this class and came into contact with all of this boring information.  Anything that you didn't know before you started taking this material, you tell the old "you".


It's up to you whether this letter is handwritten or typed out.  Typing is a lot faster for most, but it's said that most people remember things better when they have gone through the motion of physically jotting something down on paper.  Either one will be effective, it's just a matter of determining which one helps you embrace the course material better.

Take Frequent Breaks

Believe it or not, sometimes the best way to let information sink into your brain is to step away from it.  Contrary to what the movies may show you, having 8 hour study cramming sessions the night before the exam is not good for you.

It's said that most people can only focus intently on a task for about 40 minutes.  After that point, you're productivity drops dramatically.  Since this is a really boring class we are talking about, try taking breaks every half hour or so.  You are better off having a few separate study sessions where you remained focused the entire time as opposed to an all-night routine of Red Bull and glazed eyes.

And when it's all said and done, remember that this is just a hurdle.  It's a stage of your life.  Not a particularly interesting one, but you'll get through it.  And if you do succeed and end up turning your boring subject into something fascinating, you may just end up finding your life's passion in an unlikely field.  It's happened to many others and there's no reason it can't happen to you too.



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