Study Smarter, Not Harder

We’ve all heard the phrase ‘Study Smarter, Not Harder’ but what does this really mean and how can you apply it to studying for your aviation exams? These top tips below will have you on your way to studying smarter in no time.

Tip One : Know your Learning Type

In order to start studying smarter, it is really important to know what type of studying you learn and memorise the best from. There are up to seven different ‘Learning Types’, however the main four are Visual, Auditory, Kinaesthetic, and Read/Write. Knowing your Learning Type can help you to focus on forms of study that will be most beneficial to you, and which will also cut down on your study time in the long run. Note that you may be a mixture of learning types, so pick the tips for Learner Types below that most benefit you. 


Visual Learners are most benefited by learning and absorbing knowledge visually. This may be through mind maps, extra use of colour through highlighters and the use of diagrams. 


Audio Learners are most benefited by learning and absorbing knowledge through audio. This may be through recording yourself speaking your notes and then listening to that audio several times. The Voice Memo App on iPhones is perfect for on the go audio recording, learning and listening. 


Kinaesthetic Learners are most benefited by learning and absorbing knowledge through touch or in a more tactile way. Kinaesthetic Learners often benefit from speaking out loud terms or notes whilst doing a ‘mindless activity’, such as bouncing a ball or pacing. Kinaesthetic learners could also benefit from turning studying into games, such as memorising games with tactile cards or flash cards.


Read/Write Learners are most benefited by learning and absorbing knowledge through reading and writing. This may be in the form of reading internally or out loud and/or writing pieces of information down several times until they can recall it. 

Tip Two : Little and Often

It is super important to spread out your study time, start studying early and revising little and often! This is key to being able to retain large amounts of study content, and to keep you extra sharp for your exams, so that you know the material inside and out.

Tip Three : Active Recall 

For most exams, and especially for aviation exams, there is a lot of important content to remember, learn and memorise. To ensure you are able to recall your notes and study information in the exam, it is important to start practicing Active Recall early on into your study. Active Recall is essentially being able to retrieve study information or notes from your brain, without help from your actual physical study notes. There are a few ways to practice active recall : 

Flash Cards : Use your Learner Type to your advantage to get to know the material, and have a relatively good understanding of it. Once you believe you are ready, use flash cards to help solidify the material in your mind. When you are able to actively recall the answers of a flash card with no help from answers or the back of the cards, you are performing active recall! It is important to do this little and often, to keep you and your ability to actively recall sharp for your exam.

Blurting : Blurting is a type of active recall which involves taking a topic or exam type question, and ‘blurting’/writing down everything you know about that topic from your brain (no external help or looking at answers during ‘blurting’!). Blurting helps when you have a checklist of all the things you need to remember, and once you have finished a blurting session you can look back and see how many of the checklist items you were able to remember. Repeat the blurting as many times as it takes to remember all of the checklist, and then repeat this exercise little and often. 

Tip Four : Teach Somebody Else!

Teaching somebody else the content and information you are learning can help really solidify your knowledge of a topic, as well as highlighting areas you are not as confident in and may need more study/revision time on. You should try and make the teaching digestible for the person you are relaying the information too. You can do this with a partner, sibling, parent or even a teddy bear! Teaching somebody else your exam material, without help from notes, is also a form of active recall. It is important to note when you have left something out when teaching another person, or if your wording or ideas are not crystal clear. This may be a sign you need to return to revision and go over material again. 

Tip Five : Make the most out of your ‘quiet time’

Make the most out of moments where you are able to perform active recall and revise. This may be on your commute, whereby you listen to your notes on your drive to work, or to run errands. If you take the bus or the train, there are several flash card apps that can be used on the go, and taking 10-15 mins every time you are commuting to flick through your flash cards helps you to retain information longer. 

Tip Six : Take scheduled and regular breaks and prioritise you mental health and wellbeing

Although studying in large hour block chunks may work for you, it is very important to schedule breaks into your study day and to use them! Make sure you are relaxing in these breaks, whether that be by taking a walk, having a good meal or switching your brain off for an hour by watching your favourite TV show. For those who find it hard to concentrate when revising, try out the Pomodoro Technique, where you study intensely for 25 minutes and then take a 5-10 minute break. Repeat this about four times before taking a longer break.

It is important to prioritise your mental health throughout the periods where you are studying intensely. Study can get on top of the best of us, and there are people you can talk to who can help. Prioritise finding time for yourself, eating well, getting a good nights sleep and exercising regularly.

All the best with your studying ventures, and remember; Study Smarter, Not Harder!

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