Note: This is a guest post by Amber Hensley of Online College
While you might already be ahead of the game if you are studying at all, you might as well make the most of the time you spend preparing for class and ensure that all those hours you put into reviewing notes and reading chapters actually pay off. Here are some tips that can help you learn to study better and get more out of what you’re studying so you can spend less time pouring over books and more time enjoying life at school.
1. Find some peace and quiet. Studies have shown that just 20 minutes of highly focused, quiet time can help you learn and remember more than hours of working with distractions and while multi-tasking. So, to get the most out of your study time retreat to a place where you won’t be bothered by loud music or talking and can just focus in on your work.
2. Get organized. If your papers and materials are all over, you’ll spend just as much time looking for what you need as actually reading through and absorbing material which doesn’t make for a very productive use of your time. Keep one notebook just for notes for a class and ensure that all your papers are in a place you can actually locate them. It might take more planning up front but it will pay off in the long run.
3. Take breaks. Studying intensely can really take a toll on your brain and eventually make it hard for you to think clearly at all. That isn’t much of a help when you’re trying to understand difficult concepts or learn new things. Take short breaks during your study time so you can rest your eyes and mind and come back refreshed and ready to learn.
4. Have a schedule. The problem with the way that many students study is that they wait until the last minute and begin cramming the day before a big test. This really isn’t the most effective way to learn or remember new information. While it might not be fun, spending time in the weeks leading up to a test reviewing the material will be much more beneficial and might actually help you remember the material after the test as well.
5. Consider the subject. Each subject has a particular way in which it will be easiest to learn and remember. Subjects that require memorization may be more easy to learn with flashcards and timelines while subjects like math that require problem solving might be better served with doing the practice problems in your book. Spend some time figuring out just how you learn each subject best and then use that knowledge to maximize what you get out of your study sessions.
6. Study more frequently. It isn’t the duration of your study sessions that really makes a difference, it’s the frequency. You’ll learn a lot more through repetition, so break up your study time into shorter sessions every day rather than trying to cram it all in at the last minute.
7. Write it down. For most people, writing things down helps big time when it comes time to recall things on a test or even just during study time. Take notes in class and use methods that require you to do something to actively participate in learning the material– not just reading it over and over.
8. Be realistic. You’re not going to be able to memorize an entire month’s worth of material in only one night of intense studying. You likely won’t remember a good chunk of it. Be realistic in how you break up your study sessions and tackle only the amount of material that you’ll actually be able to benefit from studying– not the whole book at once.
Photo by flgr