How to Study Efficiently

If you have a big test coming up or just want to do well in class, studying is one of the best things you can do to boost your grade. Even though going over things you already learned might seem boring, you’ll feel a lot more comfortable with the material the more you review it. We’ll start by going over some tips on forming the best study habits and move on to techniques to learn and memorize information so you do your best in class!

[Edit]Steps

[Edit]Study in 1-hour blocks.

  1. Keep your study sessions shorter so you don’t get worn out. Set aside an hour for each of your subjects so you have time to review them thoroughly. During each block, only focus on 1 subject at a time so you don’t get information mixed up between classes.[1]
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    • If you have larger assignments, like papers or projects, break them up into smaller steps that you can do within the hour.

[Edit]Plan regular breaks.

  1. Step away for a few minutes every hour so you don’t feel overworked. Since studying takes up a lot of energy and brainpower, schedule in 5–10 minutes every hour where you just relax. Check your phone, browse through social media, take a walk, or go get a snack to give yourself some space from your schoolwork. Avoid working through the breaks you’ve scheduled, or else you won’t feel as alert as you normally would.[2]
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    • Taking breaks also keeps you motivated to learn as much as you can in the time you have.[3]

[Edit]Schedule time to study every day.

  1. Try to set aside a regular time to go over notes for class. Find a time when you feel the most energetic and motivated to study so you’re able to focus a little better. If you can, try to plan the same time every day so you can get into a regular routine. Block out at least 1–2 hours of your day in a planner or on a calendar so you don’t forget to do it during the day.[4]
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    • For example, in your schedule you could write, “Read Chapter 2 for Chemistry and complete study guide,” or “Review Geometry problems in Chapter 4 for text on Friday.”
    • Stay organized and on top of all your coursework by writing it in a planner or setting reminders on your phone.
    • Make sure you leave room in your schedule to hang out with friends and relax so you don’t feel overwhelmed by your schoolwork.

[Edit]Work somewhere quiet.

  1. Find a place where you won’t have trouble concentrating on the material. Avoid studying in a room with other loud people or distractions since it’ll be tough to focus and remember the material. Instead, go into your room and shut the door, or find a quiet spot at the school library where you can sit.[5]
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    • If you live with other people, ask them to be quiet and courteous when you plan your study time.
    • Everyone has a different ideal study environment. Find places that work best for you so you can focus.[6]

[Edit]Get rid of distractions.

  1. Turn off devices so you can focus on your notes and work. It can be really tempting to check your Facebook or texts, but try to avoid it as best as you can while studying. Set your phone to “Do Not Disturb” for the whole time you’re studying so you don’t get notifications. If you normally watch shows or browse the internet while you do schoolwork, shut off your TV and computer and focus on the work in front of you.[7]
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    • If there’s background noise where you’re working, try putting in headphones and playing some calming instrumental music. Avoid music with lyrics since it’s more distracting.

[Edit]Form a study group.

  1. Working with your classmates can help keep you motivated. Ask the other students that you’re in class with if they want to review with you. During your study sessions, make sure you stay focused on learning and going over the material. Try quizzing each other on core concepts, independently solving problems before comparing answers, or going over study guides.[8]
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    • Try teaching the other people in your study group the concepts you’re learning. That way, they’ll be able to learn it easier and you commit more to memory.[9]
    • Give everyone in the group an opportunity to answer questions rather than saying them out loud right away.[10]

[Edit]Focus on hard topics first.

  1. Work on difficult concepts when you have the most energy. It might sound like a good idea to save tough subjects for later, but you won’t feel as motivated to learn about them. Instead, choose the class or subject you have the most trouble with and work on it right away when you sit down to study. Go through the concepts you have the most trouble with before going onto the easier material.[11]
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    • For example, if you’re doing really well in math but are struggling in chemistry, start reviewing chemical formulas and your science textbook before working on your math problems.

[Edit]Skim the material before you dive in.

  1. Determine important reading concepts from chapter headings and images. Before you start reading from a textbook, page through the chapter and write down the headings, look at the pictures, and read through any diagrams. Once you familiarize yourself with what the chapter is going over, ask yourself what you think the reading will cover and what you already know about it. That way, you get a better idea of the information that you need to remember as you read through it.[12]
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    • For example, if a History reading is about the Civil War, you may already know that it was fought in the United States between the North and the South. You may ask yourself, “Who are the notable figures in the Civil War?” or “How did the Civil War start?”

[Edit]Rewrite your notes in your own words.

  1. Organizing your notes helps you retain information a lot easier. Even if you took notes in class, the information may jump all over the place and not be cohesive. Go through all of the notes you’ve taken and pick out the information you think is most important. Rewrite the notes on a separate page or in a different notebook so all of the similar information is organized and easy to read.[13]
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    • Reviewing information in your own words makes you think about it a little more so you’re able to pull out the most important information.[14]
    • You should also paraphrase notes you take from reading assignments as well since copying the text word for word won’t help you remember it as well.[15]

[Edit]Go over concepts multiple times.

  1. Repeat information across study sessions to ingrain it in your mind. Going over your notes once isn’t enough to remember the information long-term. When you’re studying, repeat the concept out loud or in writing at least 3 times during your study session so you’re more likely to remember it. The next time you study, review all of the information you’ve covered before to help keep it in your memory.[16]
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    • For example, if you’re trying to remember words in Spanish, say them out loud at the start of your study session. Halfway through, try to say the words again with their translations without looking. Then at the end of your session, go over the words one more time.
    • Avoid only focusing on one concept or type of problem for your whole study session since it’s not as effective. For example, if you need to study multiplication problems, intermix them with other addition, subtraction, and division problems to work your brain even more.[17]

[Edit]Practice with flashcards.

  1. Quiz yourself during your free time to commit it to memory. Write down study questions or concepts on one side of some index cards and put the answer on the back. Whenever you have some time to kill, pull out the flashcards and look through the questions. Try to answer them from memory before checking the right answer on the back.[18]
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    • Set aside the cards that you get wrong or have trouble answering so you can go back to your notes and textbooks and review the information.
    • Try putting more time in between when you study your flashcards. For example, if you consistently answer the questions right reviewing them every day, only go over them every other day.[19]

[Edit]Take practice quizzes.

  1. Test how well you can recall information with example problems. A lot of textbooks have questions at the end of a chapter so you can test how well you know the information. You can also ask your teacher for a study guide or find quizzes online on the subject you’re learning. Try to take the quiz without looking up any answers. When you’re finished, check what you got wrong and make a point to go back and review the information more.[20]
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[Edit]Remember things with mnemonic devices.

  1. Use letters and nonsense sentences to remember long pieces of info. If you have trouble memorizing tough concepts or lists, try abbreviating or making a sentence using the first letter of every item in the list. Since you’re focusing on visual and active images instead of a basic list, you’ll have to use more brainpower and remember it a lot easier.[21]
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    • For example, you can remember the names of the Great Lakes with the acronym HOMES (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior).
    • As another example, the sentence “Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge” can help you remember the 5 notes on a treble clef (E, G, B, D, and F).

[Edit]Reward yourself when you finish.

  1. Treat yourself to something small when you reach your study goals. Give yourself something to look forward to when you finish your studies. You could have a sweet snack, go for a long walk, play video games, hang out with friends, or buy yourself a small gift. Whenever you finally nail a tough concept or ace a practice quiz, celebrate so you feel more accomplished.[22]
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[Edit]Tips

  • Everyone feels motivated to study at a different time. Find a time that you feel good about studying and try to stick with it.[23]
  • Effective studying starts with paying attention in class. Make sure you take notes and do all of the assignments your teacher gives you so don’t fall behind.[24]
  • Come into each study session with a positive attitude since it will help you feel better and retain information while you’re going over tough concepts.[25]

[Edit]Warnings

  • Avoid cramming right before a test since you won’t remember the information long-term.[26]

[Edit]References

[Edit]Quick Summary

  1. https://firstyear.mit.edu/tutoring-support/study-tips/tooling-and-studying/tooling-and-studying-effective-breaks
  2. https://firstyear.mit.edu/tutoring-support/study-tips/tooling-and-studying/tooling-and-studying-effective-breaks
  3. [v161441_b01]. 18 June 2020.
  4. https://www.csc.edu/learningcenter/study/studymethods.csc
  5. https://legacy.webster.edu/academic-resource-center/how-to-study-effectively.html
  6. [v161441_b01]. 18 June 2020.
  7. https://www.usa.edu/blog/study-techniques/
  8. [v161441_b01]. 18 June 2020.
  9. https://news.ua.edu/2018/04/dont-cram-for-the-exam-9-ways-to-study-effectively-for-finals/
  10. https://www.apa.org/ed/precollege/psychology-teacher-network/introductory-psychology/study-better
  11. https://legacy.webster.edu/academic-resource-center/how-to-study-effectively.html
  12. https://www.usa.edu/blog/study-techniques/
  13. https://psychcentral.com/lib/top-10-most-effective-study-habits#1
  14. [v161441_b01]. 18 June 2020.
  15. https://www.edutopia.org/article/5-research-backed-studying-techniques
  16. https://psychology.ucsd.edu/undergraduate-program/undergraduate-resources/academic-writing-resources/effective-studying/index.html
  17. https://www.edutopia.org/article/5-research-backed-studying-techniques
  18. https://www.csc.edu/learningcenter/study/studymethods.csc
  19. https://www.usa.edu/blog/study-techniques/
  20. https://www.apa.org/ed/precollege/psychology-teacher-network/introductory-psychology/study-better
  21. https://psychcentral.com/lib/top-10-most-effective-study-habits#1
  22. https://legacy.webster.edu/academic-resource-center/how-to-study-effectively.html
  23. https://psychcentral.com/lib/top-10-most-effective-study-habits#1
  24. https://www.csc.edu/learningcenter/study/studymethods.csc
  25. https://psychcentral.com/lib/top-10-most-effective-study-habits#1
  26. https://news.ua.edu/2018/04/dont-cram-for-the-exam-9-ways-to-study-effectively-for-finals/
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