Vilfredo Fritz Pareto, an Italian polymath. He was an engineer, sociologist, political scientist and economist. He is famous for his book ‘Manual of political economy’ and for pareto’s principle.
It is this Pareto’s Principle that you can apply to make your study effective. Pareto’s principle is also called “Law of the vital few”.
To put it simply “ roughly 80% of effects/results come from 20 percent of causes”. This wonderful discovery of pareto happened when he observed that in his garden 20 percent of pea pods produced 80 percent of the peas.
During his stay in Lausanne he had discovered that 20 percent of the people in Italy owned 80 percent of the land. Pareto in 1909 had published it in book stating that this principle generally can be applied to wealth and other things and that this rule could be observed in any generation of any society.
Taking further, this 80/20 rule can be generally be applied to,
And many more you can think of. Vilfredo pareto was able to discover that this using mathematics as a tool in political science and sociology.
Using 80/20 when studying,
What is 80/20 rule?
When applying to studying it is your 80 percent of result will come for 20 percent of your studying particular topics.
What does above imply?
This means that in your course there are some topics which are more important than others. This also means that areas you should focus on should not be even but weighted and not a constant, when it comes to focusing your attention and directing your efforts.
How do you go about it?
The first thing that you should do is to study the previous years papers to find what all questions are coming in the exam.
Usually, you will find some pattern. You will get to know from which topics the questions are usually coming. This essentially means that there are some topics which are more important than others. Some topics or sections from where the questions are regularly coming and other topics usually are not so popular with paper setters.
What does 80/20 have to do with studying previous year question papers?
Precisely everything, through this 80/20 rule you know that there are some topics which are of more importance than the others. This means your studying effort should not be evenly distributed but weighted accordingly. According to 80/20 rule your 80 percent of paper will come from 20 percent of the topics. (assuming these are exact or fixed estimates but a good estimate)
Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it, yes it is !
To make it simple, an example,
Supposedly there are 5 topics in a test that you have to prepare :
You should as stated above complete your assessment of previous years papers and mock tests, notice which of the topics are more prominently coming in your tests. Mark those topics, these are topics you should focus more on. For example topic 1 and topic 4 are more important as most questions are coming from these. You should focus more on them as compared to other topics.
This means that your effort is not evenly divided but distributed unevenly in your topics that you have to prepare.
So, apply 80/20 here, your test shall comprise of majority of questions coming from topic 1 and topic 4, rest 20 percent would be coming from others. Hence, your efforts should be best directed to topic 1 and topic 4 and other topics should be revised but your priority is topic 1 and topic 4.
Here it is, another smart way to study or prepare for an exam. And by the way this rule can be applied elsewhere also, just have to be creative.