Do you ever feel that your studying methods aren’t yielding the desired results? Do you want to improve your performance in class and on exams? Many students find that their study habits from high school aren’t as successful in college. This is understandable given how different college is from high school. Classes are slightly larger, tests are more valuable, reading is more intense and far too much, and classes are far more demanding and longer. There’s nothing wrong with struggling; it simply indicates that you need to improve your study skills. In college, though, you can use a variety of active, productive study tactics.
This article is chock-full of advice on how to study effectively. You will be able to acquire course content more quickly and effectively if you incorporate these tips into your everyday study routine.
The Study Cycle
Preparing for class, attending class, reviewing, studying, and double-checking your material are the five basic stages of the Study Cycle. At first sight, each of these steps appears self-evident, yet students usually try to discover shortcuts and miss out on critical learning opportunities. You may decide to skip the pre-class reading because the professor will cover the same material in class; however, you will be missing out on an important opportunity to learn in different modes (reading and listening), as well as the repetition and distributed practice that both reading ahead and attending class provide. Understanding the importance of each stage of this cycle will help you avoid wasting important learning chances.
When it comes to learning, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach. If you study hard, you will be able to do more. Intensive study sessions are quick and easy to complete, allowing you to reach your objectives with minimal effort. Longer study sessions are ineffective compared to shorter, more intensive sessions.
The most effective study approach is to break it up into smaller sessions rather than having a long study session. Intensive study sessions, lasting 30 to 45 minutes and include active learning approaches. Another important technique is self-testing, which is an active study approach that increases the intensity of studying and learning efficiency. On the other hand, planning to spend hours upon hours self-testing is sure to get you distracted.
You are much more likely to maintain your focus and retain the information if you plan to quiz yourself on the course subject for 45 minutes and then take a break. Furthermore, shorter, more intense sessions are more likely to apply the pressure needed to avoid procrastination.
Silence isn’t always beneficial.
Decide on where you want to study. Likely, the silence of a library isn’t conducive to your well-being. It is critical to consider what type of noisy setting is best for you. Some background noise may help you concentrate. While some people find it advantageous to listen to classical music while studying, others find it overly distracting. The idea is that the silence of a library can be just as distracting (if not more so) than the commotion of a gym. If you wish to study at the library but find the silence bothersome, go to the first or second floors, where there is more ‘noise.’
Keep in mind that active learning is rarely done in silence.
Make a shift.
Find a couple of alternative study areas on and around campus, and change up your space if it’s no longer working for you.
When it comes to studying, figure out when and where you are most productive. It’s probable that at 10:00 p.m., your concentration isn’t as acute as it is at 10:00 a.m. Perhaps you’re more productive at a crowded coffee shop or in the study lounge of your hostel. While studying in bed, you may fall asleep.
On and off-campus, you should be able to study in a variety of settings. No matter where you are, you’ll be able to find the appropriate study area. You may find that your existing place is no longer suited after some time.
Make the most of your spare time.
Weeks labeled as “easy” should be avoided at all costs. Take advantage of the calm before the storm while you still have the chance. Weeks with fewer hours are ideal for catching up on work or launching long-term projects. Make the most of your extra time by getting ahead on your studies or starting important projects or articles. Even if you don’t have anything due, you should schedule a time to work on each lesson each week. Doing some work for each of your classes every day is best. Spending 30 minutes per class per day for a week adds up to three hours, but spreading it out over six days is more beneficial.
The practice of multitasking should be examined.
Multitasking, according to a large body of evidence, does not increase efficiency and hurts outcomes.
You must avoid distractions throughout your study sessions if you want to study smarter rather than harder. If you allow it, social media, web surfing, gaming, texting, and other forms of distraction will have a significant impact on the intensity of your study sessions. Multitasking (e.g., reacting to messages while studying) has been proven to increase the amount of time required to learn content while decreasing the quality of the learning.
If you avoid distractions, you will be able to focus entirely on your studies. Don’t use your computer if you don’t need it for homework. Use tools to help you set time restrictions for how much time you can spend in different areas throughout the day. Turn off your phone. Take a vacation from social media to reward yourself for your hard work (but make sure you plan!) More thoughts and approaches can be found in our handout on dealing with technology.
Become a teacher.
Try to convey the facts in your own words, as if you were the teacher. This can be done in a group, with a partner, or by yourself. Saying the topic aloud can assist you in determining where you are confused and where you require additional information. It will also assist you in remembering the topic. As you discuss the material, use examples and make connections between topics (just as a teacher does). It’s quite OK (and recommended) to do so while still holding your notes. You may need to explain the subject with your notes at first, but you will soon be able to do it without them.
Creating your quiz will help you think like your professor. What does your professor want you to know? Self-testing is a very effective study technique. Make a study guide and keep it with you all day so you can go through the questions and answers multiple times. Determine the questions you are unsure about, and then put yourself to the test on those. Make your responses clear and loud. This will help you recall the information and make the appropriate changes. Complete the sample problems in technical courses and explain how you arrived at the answer. Resolve the issues that are causing you issues. This type of learning stimulates your brain and has a significant influence.