Sometimes, studying can seem tricky. Even if you’ve gotten enough sleep, have all the materials you need, and take your scheduled breaks, it can be difficult to reach your goals. It doesn’t have to be complicated, though. Developing habits and routines that work for you is crucial. Here’s a list of solid habits to make sure you get the most out of your study sessions.
Habit #1: Find Your Learning Style
Everyone is different. This is just as true when it comes to how we retain information. We can explore the different kinds of learners another time. For a basic guide to understanding the different kinds of learning styles and profiles, check out this page.
Once you figure out which style of learning works best for you, you can decide how to study to take advantage of your strengths. This can also help you find which study aids to use and things to avoid in order to keep distractions to a minimum.
Habit #2: Tackle the Hardest Tasks First
If you have more than one task, you may be tempted to start with the easiest one, even though the most difficult assignment or subject will take the most energy. Once you’ve finished the hardest part of your work, it’ll be much easier to complete the easier work. Research has shown that starting with the toughest task can significantly improve studying effectiveness and subsequent performance.
Habit #3: Take Good Notes
It’s important to develop your note-taking skills so that your notes actually contain the important information you need to know.
Remember, not everything your teacher says needs to be in your notes. Focus on things your teacher says more than once and/or indicates are important. If your teacher takes the time to write something on the board or on the overhead, it’s probably important, so be sure to write it down. Also, topics your teacher takes several class days to cover are surely worth noting.
Be sure to include helpful details like page numbers, due dates, pointers, or anything else that might make it easier to keep track of what you’re doing.
Making lists, diagrams, or charts when appropriate can go a long way toward helping with retaining information.
Habit #4: Review Your Notes
There is never a bad time to look over your notes. Reviewing your notes daily before retiring for the evening or during free periods will help you retain what you’ve been learning.
Habit #5: Create a Study Zone
Your study zone can be anywhere you’ll be able to be productive, like your room, a coffee shop, or the library. Think about what makes each place good or bad. Do you work best when it’s totally quiet, or are you better off with some background noise? Typically, most students find it helpful to locate a consistent place to do their studying that’s not too quiet and not too noisy.
Once you have a place in mind, make sure you have everything you’ll need to study with you. You’ll need a surface big enough to spread your books, laptop, paper, and other supplies.
Don’t be afraid to establish rules when you’re in your study zone. Make sure your parents or roommates are aware of your study space and when you will be studying. This will help you avoid distractions and stay productive. Simple things like keeping your door closed and refraining from responding to phone calls or text messages can make a huge difference.
Consider identifying two or three locations you can make into a study zone. This way, if your main study area can’t be used for any reason, you have a backup.
Habit #6: Make Goals
If you just sit down with the intention of learning everything you need to know, you may be setting yourself up for failure.
Take a minute to think about the factors that will influence what your goals should be. Ask yourself which subjects need your focus now and which can wait until later or tomorrow. Once you answer these questions, you can think of achievable goals that will help you accomplish what you need.
The SMART method is a common way of coming up with good study goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.
Habit #7: Prioritize
Prioritize everything, from subjects to assignments. Every time you’re told about something that you’ll need to do, write it down immediately. That way, when you have time later, you can go through everything that you have to do and decide what’s most or least important, as well as the order you will knock them out.
One way to make prioritizing your tasks simple is to organize your study notes by using colors or labels. Whether they’re on your computer or in a notebook or binder, developing your own color-coding system can help you keep track of projects. You can also use different colored pens, highlighters, sticky notes, folders, and labels for each different project or subject.
Habit #8: Make Studying Part of Your Daily Routine
Make time for studying every day, regardless of whether or not you have a test coming up. Consistency is key, and once you get into good studying habits, it will become a routine.
When planning your study blocks, choose times when you’re at peak performance. Do you study better in the mornings or in the evenings? If you’re unsure when you work best, try studying at different times of the day to see what works best.
Remember, once you find a time that works for you and you make it part of your schedule, you can always finish early if you don’t need all the time you’ve allocated.
Lastly, expect the unexpected. Be sure to build in some flexibility. Real life will always necessitate minor changes here and there to your schedule, so be ready for it so it doesn’t throw you off your study track.
Habit #9: Consider Joining a Study Group
Study groups can help you remember what you’ve learned, especially if you’re a social learner. It gives you the opportunity to ask questions and discuss difficult concepts with your peers.
To find a group that works for you, look for people who are as (or more!) dedicated as you are. For that, you can make a group with your friends or classmates or can also join an online group at platforms similar to Studyverse. Choose one wisely, as you don’t want to study with a group that spends more time distracting each other than being productive.
It’s also good to keep the group small, as having more than five or six people in a group often creates more problems than it solves.
Habit #10: Think Positively
Just like with anything else, your attitude has a huge impact on your productivity. If you keep a positive outlook and believe you can do it, it will drive your focus, and you’ll accomplish more, retain more, and feel more confident by the time the test rolls around.