About the author: David Quan, one of thirty recipients worldwide of a Cambridge Trust Scholarship, was one of our state’s top performing students, earning a near-perfect ATAR and International Baccalaureate (IB) score. An Order of Australia Association Student Citizenship Awards recipient, David has tutored, coached and mentored hundreds of Primary and Secondary students over the last half-decade, especially through his active volunteering and leadership roles for school, basketball, music, public speaking, social enterprise and community service.


Advanced Education SA is pleased to partner with David before he commences his undergraduate studies at the world-renowned University of Cambridge. We hope that his fresh insights and perspective may offer all our students further inspiration to access excellence and advance their education. For private and group tuition enquiries, please visit our website at https://advancededucation.com.au/

Systematic Studying (0): Why You Should Engineer Your Own RAILWAY System
Systematic Studying (1): Not 1, Not 2, But 3!
Systematic Studying (2): The Power Of A Manipulated Home Clock
Systematic Studying (3): Three C’s That Maximize Classroom Learning


Finishing a lesson can simultaneously be a relief and a burden. Whilst you have ample time to relax and reinvigorate before the cycle repeats, maximizing learning in this gap between classes demands a level of motivation and ingenuity. The former is best nurtured from within oneself, but we nevertheless can explore some possibilities to accomplish the latter. Although much depends on the specific context of your learning, you would at least benefit from considering these ideas just in case they one day become useful!


10 Final Ideas for Consideration

1. Review and consolidate notes from classes

The chaos within the classroom setting may have hindered your ability to make connections between certain concepts. Maybe you haven’t yet grasped the theory explained in the class. Quickly reviewing your class notes – or even better, filtering and transferring aspects of your ‘bad’ copy notes into your ‘good’ copy notes – will help you to consolidate your learning.

2. Understand before completing homework

Homework is usually self-explanatory, although aspects of it may be vague to comprehend. In order not to be doing the tasks incorrectly or even worse doing the wrong task, it may be worthwhile to ensure that you fully understand what’s required. Ask a friend or email your teachers; even re-read the task sheet and check the rubric or marking criteria, if applicable. Just make sure that you know what’s expected of you because your time and attention are both scarce!

3. Use textbooks and study guides

For whatever curriculum you’re studying, textbooks and study guides are most likely available. These are valuable resources that not only contain explanations of theoretical concepts covered in the course, but also because the abstract is complemented by practice questions. So, take advantage of these!

4. Create a ‘second brain’ by taking notes

Simply hoping that important information will naturally be retained in our memories is a big mistake that people regret later on – specifically, when the clock is ticking in the exam room and they, understandably, cannot recall what was learnt a year and a half ago! So, begin with the end goal in mind: what will your future self be most grateful for? Consider getting into a habit of writing your own notes or, in Tiago Forte’s or Tom Butler-Bowdon’s words, create your “second brain”. This has the additional benefit of streamlining your productivity during exam revision.

5. Personalize your notes

You are far more likely to learn and remember if you create your own set of notes. The process of producing your notes, which involves constant contemplations of what is and isn’t important, will ensure that you slow down to absorb the learning. Consider having sticky notes, highlighters and coloured pens, which can all help make your revision later on that little bit more interesting! Be creative. Decorate and personalize your notes. Trust me, your future self will appreciate that!

6. Search for more textbooks and study guides

Your notes can only be as good as the information you have available. It may therefore be worthwhile to have other textbooks and study guides even just for an extra perspective. By doing so, you will likely realize that different books have different strengths. For example, Book A may explain topic 4 clearly but not topic 8, whereas Book B is the opposite. You should then learn topic 4 from Book A and topic 8 from Book B. Realizing this and picking and the styles that best suit your learning from each respective resource you have access to will undoubtedly strengthen your ‘good’ copy notes – and ultimate revision! 

7. Use YouTube and online resources

Nowadays, so much is available for you at your fingertips! Like many things in life, you just need to show initiative. YouTube videos, many of which created by highly passionate and experienced educators, are particularly helpful for visual learners. You can always use them to clarify concepts or learn different question styles. There may be other online resources that you would benefit from too. Just go out there and explore!

8. Scrutinize the syllabus

The syllabus, my teachers always said, is a giant cheat sheet. Indeed, it is a very underrated resource. In short, everything that you need to know must be mentioned within the syllabus. By contrast, what is not in it therefore does not require any attention. Knowing this can save you time and effort. Hence, scrutinizing the syllabus focuses your attention on exactly what can be tested or examined. The best students often have printed versions – they annotate, underline, highlight or note to fully understand their course! Why wouldn’t you do the same?

9. More! More! More!