Unless you were trying to be the valedictorian, you probably didn’t take studying seriously in high school. After syllabus week and the real coursework sets in, you’ve come to the reality you need to get better at studying to survive college. There’s no right or wrong way to study. Everybody learns differently and you know what works best for you. Nevertheless, these six study tips will help give you a foundation to become better at studying.
Good Habits for Studying
1. Develop a Study Routine
The simplest way to get better at studying is to do it more often and consistently. This doesn’t mean you have to dedicate a time every single day without any flexibility. College isn’t and shouldn’t be all about exams. You’ll be invited to hang out with friends or if it’s been a long day and want to go to sleep early, that’s okay. Eventually, you’ll find a perfect balance.
It also works in your favor to plan and set goals. If you’re struggling in a certain class and know a test is two weeks away, set aside time to study during the day and write down how much time you need. By writing down the amount of time, you can chip away at it during the week and experts say you’re more likely to achieve your goals by writing them down.
2. Find and Use Study Resources
Certain students are shocked to learn about all the resources a university offers when it comes to studying but then again not everyone even knows where the library is. Resources such as the professors’ office hours, your tutoring or writing center, and library journal subscriptions are easy to find.
Professors will have their office hours included in the syllabus at the beginning of the year and will also try to make time for an online meeting if you reach out. This is a perfect time to ask what material is the most important and how past students have studied to successfully pass the class. Tutoring and writing centers are great because they give you an outside source to help understand information. These usually have other students helping you. It’s okay to struggle in a class and ask for help, that’s how you get better. Universities will pay for access to journals that have peer-reviewed articles needed for papers. Not everyone knows this, but the journals generally ask you to search for your college and use your login to access it or see if your school grants you access.
Always ask your academic advisor or career coach about all the resources your school provides for you.
3. Study with Friends
Not everyone enjoys studying around others, but it can be very helpful. When you don’t understand a concept, you can ask around to see if anyone else gets it. Some students pick up on different subjects or ideas quicker than others. They might also be able to explain it to you better than the textbook or professor does. The group can compare notes and even quiz one another. There also might be a person in your group that is a year older or has studying figured out, leading you into an even better place for your own study habits.
The library might not be the best place for this because you will be talking to people. However, libraries, dorms, and student apartments offer study rooms for groups. There are other spots as well as we mention in our next tip.
4. Switch up Study Spots
Your surroundings affect the way you’re studying. In 2010, The New York Times put out an article detailing how “simply alternating the room where a person studies improved retention.” It goes on to mention that students that studied the same content in two different rooms as opposed to one room, did better remembering the content.
This is a good excuse to check out different spots around campus and the town you’re living in. Study outside, enjoy nature and make a day out of it. The more fun you can add to studying, the better you’ll do. Try that new coffee shop, find a place to sit at the botanical garden, and ace that test.
5. Make Room for Study Breaks
Locking yourself in a room for hours without any distractions isn’t the best strategy for studying. It’s really important for your brain to take breaks. There have been plenty of studies done that show that people that work non-stop compared to those that take breaks, don’t work as efficiently. The scientific data shows that taking breaks improves memory, boosts energy, reduces stress, improves your health, and enhances your performance.
Scrolling through Twitter, Instagram, and Tik Tok isn’t a great way to use your breaks. Instead, here are great options for a 5-20 minute break:
- Stretch to loosen your muscles
- Draw or doodle
- Listen to music
- Whip up a healthy snack
- Practice deep breathing
Leading into our next point, if you’re to take a quick power nap, those are a good choice too.
6. Studying isn’t More Important than Sleep
It’s the night before finals week. You feel pressured to keep studying, but your eyes feel so heavy. What should you do? Go to sleep. Researchers have found that “…students who are not getting enough sleep, though, are actually going to mirror the behavior of a student who’s intoxicated”. Not sleeping enough truly affects your body and how you function.
Cramming that last hour of studying at night won’t do much for you as it’s unlikely you’ll retain much of that information. If you try to get a goodnight’s rest instead, you’ll feel better and can process through questions better even if you don’t know the exact answer. Sleeping 7-9 hours a night will help your grades, health, and your mood.
When finals week rolls around, here are eight tips to help you plan for them.
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