Simple Study Tips That Really Work
When you think of studying, do you picture yourself at the library at midnight, cramming for a test while gulping large quantities of caffeine? This is a common outcome for those who let procrastination get the better of them.
There are a lot of effective ways to study, and, believe it or not, they don’t have to be stress-inducing. Here are some ways to avoid those all-nighters and to be the most effective studier you can be.
Schedule Regular Study Sessions
Cramming the night before an exam is actually counterproductive to your learning and your health. Good time management is the key to avoiding those late-night cram sessions.
Start planning your studying at the beginning of the term. First, schedule regular study sessions dedicated to your weekly assignments. You might even add them to your calendar. Then, look ahead at your syllabus to identify exam periods or see when you have papers due, and set longer study sessions aside.
By spreading out your study sessions, building in regular “appointments” with your books, and being disciplined with the schedule you’ve built, you’ll also have more time for fun. Having a healthy work-life balance reduces your stress and is better overall for your long-term learning. Good time management ensures that you have time for it all.
—Em Wright, Psychology Student, UMass Amherst
Studying with a friend or study group is great for multiple reasons. First, scheduling sessions with another person holds you accountable. If you have a regular study buddy or study group, you’ll be less likely to skip it. Second, studying with another person can help you better understand the material. Because everyone learns differently, a study group can provide you with the opportunity to tap into many different learning styles and perspectives. This is especially valuable when studying complex topics that might not have one answer, or that require a thoughtful approach. A discussion among a group of people helps you think more critically by hearing different perspectives. Plus, it’s more fun!
To find your study partner or group, start the term by looking around at your class to see who you might already know. Compare your schedules and build in study sessions together. It might be more difficult to schedule regular study sessions with a group because of competing schedules, but finding a way to do so can be worth the work. Try to find your study partner or group early on in the term, and then schedule sessions at important times, such as a couple of weeks before an exam.
Get Your Feng Shui On
Your optimal study environment will most likely depend on your personality. Think about the places and atmospheres that help you focus the best. Here are some tips for creating the best environment for you:
Tap Those Resources
When you find yourself confused by course content, there are many resources you can tap into. The following resources may be helpful to you, whether you need to dive deeper into a subject or you’re seeking basic academic help:
Extend Study Beyond Just Reading
Your studying will most certainly start with reading, but by itself, it’s not enough. Even for those who retain information easily through reading, understanding course content requires you to be more active. Here are some ways you can make the reading process more active:
In my later years of undergrad when we were doing more case-based work it helped me to apply real-world examples. I had one professor who had been a psychiatrist for years before turning to teaching. He would share stories about his clients to go with each topic. This really helped the material stick because it got me engaged with it. Stories stick in my head better than facts, which is why this professor was so effective. If you don’t have a professor that will do that, try doing some research on your own about whatever topic it is and see if you can find real-life examples.
Good study habits go beyond the act of studying itself—good habits encourage taking care of yourself. Here are some important ways to do that:
Know Your Learning Style
Everyone takes in and retains information in distinctly different ways. Knowing your learning style can help you study better and help you communicate with your instructors if you’re having trouble understanding the course material.
The following are the four most common learning styles:
I based my [studying] methods off my learning style. Personally, I’m a very visual learner, so making charts and maps of information really works well for me. I also remember things better once I write them down. If there were going to be straight definitions on the test, making flashcards was very useful.