Unsurprisingly, you can’t ace all of your classes if you aren’t studying effectively. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to study better; below are eight tips to help you study effectively in order to improve your grades in school.
8 Tips for Studying effectively
- Plan Out Your Study Time
- Optimize Your Study Environment
- Dealing With Distractions
- Use Flashcards
- Start Studying Before Class Starts
- Take Breaks
- Read Related Books During Breaks
- Go Over Old Notes
1) Plan Out Your Study Time
Make a schedule and stick to it. Choose a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. Make sure that all of your study materials are close at hand and that your workspace is well-lit and comfortable. Choose an effective time when you won’t feel rushed; early morning study sessions may work best for some people while night owls find it easier to stay up late.
2) Optimize Your Study Environment
If you’re trying to study effectively, look around your study environment. Does it help or hinder your ability to learn? Often, small changes can make a big difference in how well you can absorb information.
For example, keeping snacks and beverages away from your desk might sound like it would make studying less enjoyable—but if those things aren’t there, you won’t be distracted by cravings and calories (thus allowing yourself to focus better).
Make other minor adjustments around your home: It’s not uncommon for students to say they’re more productive at their local coffee shop than they are at home.
If that sounds like you, try taking notes at Starbucks (where there’s no background noise) as opposed to on your couch (where distractions abound).
3) Dealing With Distractions
Being distracted is something that affects us all, no matter how hard we try to avoid it. Distractions happen. There are some ways to cut down on distractions, though. You can use apps like SelfControl or Freedom to block yourself off from distracting websites and social media networks, but what about more traditional distractions?
For example, everyone has a best friend who likes to stop by your desk every few minutes with a question—and those interruptions can really add up. If you have a particularly chatty roommate who just won’t leave you alone for five minutes at a time, take control of your environment by either asking them politely to visit with you later in your break room or buy earplugs!
In addition to chatty roommates and social media sites, harsh lights and temperatures also make our brains concentrate less effectively. Set aside an office space where you can study without having bright lights constantly shining in your eyes or extreme heat pumping through your air conditioning unit at 100% capacity.
4) Use Flashcards
If you’re trying to learn something new, flashcards are a great way to study. Put your flashcards in your pocket, purse or backpack so that you can refer to them when you have a free moment—even if it’s just waiting in line at Starbucks.
However, don’t just pull out a card and start memorizing—doing so won’t help you retain information very well. Instead, take your time to study each side of each card carefully before flipping it over and testing yourself on what you just learned.
5) Start Studying Before Class Starts
I don’t know about you, but when I used to get to class and realized I forgot my notebook or some other piece of necessary study materials, I felt like II just threw away several hours of time. Instead, try studying your notes before you go to class so that you never have to lose valuable study time procuring them.
As an added bonus, if there’s anything confusing in your notes or textbook that you can’t understand during your pre-class session, bring it up in class with your teacher. A lot of times, they’ll be able to help clarify things on the spot!
6) Take Breaks
It’s easy to get caught up in studying and not realize you’ve been at it for hours. But after an hour or two, your brain is more focused on finishing your work than learning new material. Taking regular breaks gives your brain a chance to rest, so you can come back with a fresh mind. It can be helpful to set an alarm reminding you to take breaks every hour or two.
Some students also find that doing some physical activity, like running around outside or going for a walk, helps them study more effectively. Being active may increase blood flow and oxygen supply to your brain, giving it additional energy during study sessions.
Breaking up studying into shorter periods is another way to help yourself stay focused throughout a study session and retain information better because of it.
7) Read Related Books During Breaks
Many of us have a habit of taking short study breaks. It’s okay, but you should also take advantage of those breaks to learn something new. Make reading one of your study breaks a routine, and you’ll absorb information more effectively while also refreshing your mind before diving back into memorization.
For example, if you’re learning about history, try reading up on biology or physics after studying for an hour or two. You might be surprised at how many connections are there to be made between seemingly unrelated topics! This is one of my favorite tips because it reminded me that I don’t need to focus on just my major—I can expand my knowledge during downtime and use it in future classes and conversations!
8) Go Over Old Notes
Think back to your last big test, quiz, or essay—the one you felt like you had no idea how to study for. Chances are, you ended up coming out on top, so start by reviewing your old notes. As simple as it sounds, looking over what’s already on paper will help refresh your memory and give you some topics to focus on.
Even if you don’t fully understand everything that was covered in class right now (and don’t worry if you don’t), it will help solidify in your mind what is most important and valuable when it comes time to study properly.
The bottom line is that you want to use your time studying effectively. To do so, try not to study longer than you have to. Learning how to study effectively means finding a routine that works best for you and sticking with it. In other words, try different things and stick to what works for you. Don’t forget to give yourself something fun and rewarding to look forward to (e.g., getting a snack or playing video games) after studying for an hour or two.
Also, take advantage of peer help & collaboration services available on campus or online through academic software programs such as Blackboard, Moodle or Desire2Learn (D2L).