How To Study Effectively

            Studying. Whether you are a high school student or on your way to getting a Ph.D. learning how to study is going to help you—although if you are getting a Ph.D., I assume you already have a pretty good grasp on this concept.

For many individuals though, this activity can be pretty daunting. Studying is a difficult task when you don’t have the proper tools to succeed. You must keep in mind that finding the perfect study method is a never-ending effort, meaning it’s not something that can be put off until the night before an exam. You should always strive to improve your study skills and to understand what works best for you—depending on your learning style and lifestyle.

            Learning to study more effectively will help you avoid worry and exasperation the next time you have to take an exam. After all, if you have time to fully review and practice the content, you are more likely to be less anxious. Mastering study habits will not only make learning simpler, but it will also help you achieve higher test results. If you are interested in doing just that here are five tips that you should adopt into your study routine.

Get Into a Good Mindspace

            The most important thing to do before going into each study session is to attain an open and positive mindset. Because most people view studying as an obligation rather than an opportunity, it’s in our basic nature to do anything we can to avoid it. To change this, don’t look at this time as a necessary task, but rather focus on the goal you are trying to achieve. An example of this would be if you’re working towards a bachelor’s degree and you focus on the end results—such as graduating and working your dream job. This allows you to feel much more motivated to complete the task at hand. Although if you wish to do this well, you must know if you are capable of shifting your current mindset.

            There are going to be times when you can’t make yourself be in this appropriate frame of mind, and it’s best to avoid studying during these moments. If you find yourself distracted by an external problem or an approaching event, studying is going to be an extremely frustrating activity. When you are in this scenario, simply just walk away and return when you feel ready.

Eliminate Distractions

            Distractions are everywhere these days, and avoiding them requires great effort. Being aware of your surroundings and making the decision to steer clear of these distractions can help you maintain a steady focus throughout your study session. A good rule to keep in mind is to only have what you need, and nothing you don’t need—and yes, this does include your phone. The constant temptation of notifications, social media, and interacting with your friends is sometimes too much to resist. This is why it is best to turn off, or silence, your phone and put it away. This also applies to the all-beloved background noise of a television show or movie. Turning off the television will make a huge difference in the ground you cover in your session.

            Another common, hard-to-avoid, distraction would be people. Unless you are in a study group or with a professor, I strongly advise for you to not be around company. Isolating yourself will help you avoid striking up unnecessary conversations that will cause your mind to wander.

Get Organized

            While in class you must take well-organized, easily comprehensive notes that you are able to utilize at a later time. This means summarizing the material presented in class and putting it into words that are easy for you to understand—in other terms do not copy the slides word for word. By doing this, the ideas that you write down will be more developed and active in your mind. If you just copy the presented notes and material, with no further mental effort, you will find yourself passively taking in the information, making it much harder for you to recall the material later on. It can also be helpful to make your notes more visually appealing. You can do this by incorporating highlighters, colored pens, and sticky notes. This will make note-taking a bit more enjoyable.

            It is also important to have a designated spot—or multiple designated spots—that are optimal for you to study in. This study location should be calm, well-lit, and have few distractions. Also, try to have a clear and open area that allows you to freely write without unnecessary clutter.

            Another technique that can help you organize proper study sessions would be incorporating a daily planner into your routine. This doesn’t have to be a physical planner—especially if you have a tendency to be forgetful. It might be more convenient to download an electronic planner. Whichever you decide, make sure to block out specific times and dates, as well as the desired goal, for each session you wish to have. This eliminates further excuses for procrastination and helps your mind focus solely on the material, rather than how long the session is going to be. This will also make the time feel shorter, now that you know it is finite.

What Type of Learner Are You?

            As I mentioned before, you should always strive to improve your study abilities to understand what works best for you—depending on your learning style. Each person has a particular way that they learn and obtain information. If you wish to learn more about yourself and how you study best take this quiz. After you get your results, the website will provide great tips on how to learn and stay engaged in ways that cater to your learning style.

Reward Yourself

            After each study session, it is a good idea to go ahead and treat yourself for all of the hard work you have put into bettering your future—it’s only right. This can be anything from a simple nap to going and hanging out with friends. Although to make this effective, try to set goals you would like to reach in each study session before you reward yourself. This can be a certain amount of material you wanted to cover, the amount of time you put into the session, or maybe even that you were able to maintain a consistent mindset throughout studying. Setting these boundaries for yourself teaches you great discipline.

            Knowing how to properly study is a talent that will serve you well, even beyond the classroom. Obtaining skills such as organization, time management, prioritization, problem-solving, and the self-discipline necessary to stay motivated are just a few great examples—many of which are transferable to multiple aspects of life. Although for now, if you do decide to take on these suggested tips, you will find yourself more that prepared to ace your next exam. Good luck and happy studying!

Abigail Hatfield

I am a first year Integrative Human Biology major at Stephens College. I am currently trying to build my confidence in my writing, and I hope publishing these essays will do just that.

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