Being good at studying is a skill that anyone can learn, and that includes you! There are good study habits and there are bad study habits, and this article is going to show you how to ditch what’s not working and focus on strategies that will work and make a difference come test day. When you’re finished, you’ll know how to study smarter, not harder. Plus, you’ll have a few tricks up your sleeve for when you need that extra boost of motivation!
Set up your study space. It’s great if you have a desk for studying, but a table will also work great. Make sure your space has good lighting and remove any clutter or distractions that might break your focus. Place the materials you need to study, like pens, highlighters, and a notebook, near the area so they’re handy.
- It’s okay to switch up your study spot if that’s more convenient for you. For instance, you might like studying at the library or a coffee shop sometimes.
- Play music while you study so it’s more fun. Create a playlist of songs that inspire you but aren’t distracting. You might try instrumental music if you get distracted easily, but it’s okay to listen to whatever you like.
Create a daily study schedule for yourself. Rather than trying to do all your studies in 1 day, plan to study a little every day. Start by choosing the time of day when you feel the most focused. Then, decide which subjects you’ll study each day. Keep your study schedule in your agenda or somewhere you can see it every day.
- Everyone has a different time of day when they feel most energized. You might find that you learn best early in the morning, but it’s also possible you might like studying right after school or before bed. Do what works best for you.
- If you participate in sports or activities, keep these in mind when planning your studies. Let’s say you have sports practice every day after school. You might decide it’s best to study for an hour each evening before bed and an hour every morning before school to accommodate your sports schedule.
Organize your study materials so it’s easy to find what you need. You probably have a lot to do, so you need to spend your time wisely. Keep all of your papers, notebooks, texts, and writing utensils in a specific place so you don’t waste precious study time looking for them. This way you can quickly pull out what you need and get started.
- For example, you might keep your pencils, pens, highlighters, and erasers in a pencil pouch in your backpack. If you also have a desk at home, you could keep a cup of them on your desktop. Try using colorful pens for notes you write for yourself so it’s more fun.
- If your instructor sends handouts and readings in digital files, save yours to a Google Drive that you can access from any device. This way you’ll always have what you need.
- You could use a hole-punch to add holes to handouts, readings, and other paper items so you can keep them in a binder. As another option, you could keep them in a folder. Pick a binder or folder that has an image you like on it! You might even decorate it.
- Keep books or notebooks in your bookbag or beside your study space.
Remove distractions so you can stay focused on your studies. You’ll have an easier time focusing if there aren’t distractions around. Ask the people around you to not disturb you while you’re studying. Additionally, turn off your TV and silence your phone so you won’t be tempted to check it.
- If there’s clutter nearby your study spot, you might want to remove it if you find it distracting.
- Try using a productivity app or website that can block social media and other distracting apps or sites during your study time.
Review your notes at the end of each school day so everything is fresh. You’ll likely need to re-read your notes a few times before they start to stick in your mind. Set aside a few minutes every day to go back over what you learned in all of your classes. It doesn’t need to be a big block of time.
- Look for a few minutes of downtime, like when you’re waiting for the bus, sitting on the ride home, or waiting for your after-school events to start.
Focus on key concepts rather than minor details. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you’re studying because there’s so much information to learn. You don’t need to memorize your notes and textbook to do well in class. Instead, study the main points that your instructor pointed out in class. Then, figure out how the minor details and examples in your notes or text help you better understand the main points.
- In English class, you could start with a story’s theme. Then, you might look for ways the author used literary devices to support that theme.
- In math class, you might focus on the formulas you’re learning and how to use them. Later, you can figure out how the specific math problems your teacher gave you help you practice.
- In History class, you might focus on the social and historical factors that lead to war rather than specific dates and people.
Read key information out loud to help commit it to memory. Reading aloud can help you remember something better, so use this strategy for important points. Go somewhere you won’t disturb anyone else. Then, slowly read your notes or the text to yourself to see if it helps you remember it.
- You might also try reading aloud when you’re having trouble understanding something.
Incorporate activities that fit your learning style. Figure out which learning style fits you most. Visual learners absorb more information when they can see it, auditory learners take in information by listening, and kinesthetic learners engage more with movement. Personalize your study sessions by using your learning style.
- If you’re a visual learner, you might highlight your notes or text. You may also try incorporating a documentary or slideshow into your studies. You might also like drawing a mind map so you can represent what you’re thinking visually.
- If you’re an auditory learner, you might try singing your notes, reading aloud, or listening to your text on audiobook.
- If you’re a kinesthetic learner, try acting out your notes or walking around while you read or listen to an audiobook. Physically manipulating flashcards or drawing a mind map might also work for you.
Look for links between what you’re learning and what you already know. Sometimes you might feel like what you’re learning in class has nothing to do with your real life, but that’s usually not true. Making connections between what you’re learning and what you already know can help deepen your understanding of the material and may help you remember it better. Try to brainstorm links between what you’re studying and something you’ve experienced.
- For instance, maybe you used math to determine the area of your walls when you were buying new paint.
- Similarly, you might think about how the characters in a story you’ve read relate to people you know in real life.
Rewrite your notes with extra information to create a study guide. Making a study guide helps you review the material and gives you something to review in future study sessions. Start by typing your notes into a blank document. Then, use your textbook and online resources to add to your existing notes. Additionally, answer questions from your textbook or ones that come to mind as you study.
- This is a good way to study because it requires you to take an extra step past reading your notes and textbook. Reading, thinking, and writing are ingredients essential for an efficient study session.
- You might prefer to hand-write your notes. Keep a set of colored pens or markers just for this. It’ll be more fun to rewrite your notes if you use special supplies.
Take a 10 to 15-minute break every hour you study. You want to use your time wisely, so you might think breaks are a bad idea. However, trying to focus on your studies for too long can cause fatigue. Instead, schedule breaks into your study sessions so you can burn off a little steam. When you come back, you’ll be refreshed and ready to pick back up where you left off.
- If you feel like you get distracted easily, you might try the Pomodoro technique instead. Set a timer for 25 minutes and try to study that entire time. Take a 2- to 3-minute break, then start the next session. Do a total of 4 study blocks, with short breaks between them. After the 4th block, either stop studying for the day or take a longer 15-minute break before you start another study block.
- Use your breaks for something that energizes you, like getting a snack or going for a short walk. Don’t turn on your TV or a video game because it might distract you.
Eat healthy snacks to energize your mind. Snacking while you study can help you stay focused and might help you study longer. Just make sure you choose healthy snacks over junk food. Keep your snacks near your study space or grab them when you take a study break. Here are some snacks that can help you stay focused while you study:
- Trail mix
- Carrots and hummus
- Dark chocolate
- Greek yogurt
- Apple slices and peanut butter
Alternate subjects so you don’t get burned out. Try not to study 1 subject for too long because you’ll probably get bored after a while. Unfortunately, this can make it harder for you to remember what you’ve studied. Instead, set time limits for how long you’ll focus on each subject, then switch to something else.
- For example, you might decide to study Math and English on Monday afternoons. If you have 2 hours to study, you might study Math for 45 minutes, take a 15-minute break, then study English for 45 minutes. You could spend the final 15 minutes doing a self-test or review.
- Do the subject that interests you least first so you’ll be more excited to switch topics.
Make flash cards for the information you need to memorize. You can use flash cards for most subjects, and they can be a great tool for testing yourself. Use flashcards to learn vocabulary, mathematical formulas, historical dates and figures, scientific facts and processes, etc. You can make your own cards or print some online. Then, flip through your cards to test your knowledge.
- Making the cards yourself is super beneficial because you’ll have to write out all of the information you’re learning when you create the cards.
- You can find pre-made flashcards about many topics on the website Quizlet.
Create a mind map to organize the information you’re learning. Mind maps can help you make connections between what you’re learning. Start by drawing a circle and writing the topic inside the circle. Then, draw spokes away from the center circle and draw circles at the end of each spoke. Inside those circles, write the main points you’ve learned about the topic so far. Keep branching off of each circle you draw with new facts and details about the topic.
- Try looking up example mind maps online to see how others have used this technique to study.
Use online tutorials if you’re struggling with the material. You might not understand every subject right away, and that’s totally okay. Luckily, you can find study guides and video tutorials online that can help you study better. Look for study help as soon as you start having trouble so you can get the help you need.
- For instance, Khan Academy has a lot of video tutorials you can watch for free. You can also find videos on YouTube.
Sleep 8-10 hours a night so you’re well-rested. Teens aged 14- to 17-years-old need at least 8 hours of sleep every night for good health.If you are sleep deprived, studying will feel like a chore. You won’t learn nearly as much information sleepy as you will after a good night’s rest.
If you’re 18 or older, you need 7-9 hours of sleep each night, while kids who are 6- to 13-years-old need 9-11 hours of sleep.
Test yourself to review what you’ve studied. At the end of each study session, set aside 15-20 minutes for a self-test of the material. Do a practice test if you can, but you can also flip through your flashcards or block off parts of your notes to see if you can remember the information. This can help you retain more of what you studied and helps you identify the material you need to study again.
- Ask a friend or family member to quiz you if you can. Have them ask you questions about the material and check your answers.
- Take a practice exam using questions from your study guide or example tests online. This will help you identify any areas you need to review again.
- If you’re wrong, go through the correct answers.
Don’t cram for tests because it likely won’t work. Like most people, you’ll need a few days for the material to really sink in, so studying a bunch the night before a test likely won’t work out. Chances are, you’ll forget most of what you study during your cram session. Instead, stick to the study schedule you made for yourself so you can learn a little at a time.
- You probably have friends who brag about how cramming works for them, but you don’t know what’s really going on behind the scenes. Ignore what other people say and do what’s best for you.
- Try planning something fun and relaxing for the night before your exam, like a bubble bath or watching your favorite movie with a friend. This way you’ll have something to look forward to that might motivate you to stick to your study schedule.
Teach the information to others to help deepen your understanding. Explaining something to someone else helps you retain the information better. Give a short lesson about what you’re currently studying to a classmate, friend, or family member. Then, ask them if they have any questions about the subject. Do your best to answer the questions.
- If you get a question you can’t answer, find out the answer so you’ll fill in that information gap.
- If you’re sharing with a classmate, take turns “teaching” each other. This way you’ll be getting double the information!
Be active during your study breaks to improve your focus. Cardio activity boosts blood flow, which helps your brain work better. Additionally, being active may help improve your memory. Try going for a walk, doing jumping jacks, or dancing to your favorite song during your study breaks.
- Pick an exercise you enjoy so your study breaks are fun.
Start or join a study group to learn from each other. Study groups help you all learn better because you can share different ideas and explain the material to each other. Ask your classmates to form a study group with you, then schedule meetups at least once a week. Do your best to stay on task so you can get the most out of your study sessions.
- Ask each study group member when they’re available so you can pick the perfect time for your study group. For example, you might arrange to meet after school in the library every Tuesday.
- If you’re all busy with after-school activities, you could schedule a study session in the library or a local coffee shop every Saturday at noon.
- It’s okay to meet more often than once a week if your schedules allow.