When we say quick, we mean quick.
Here are five fast and easy tips to help you study more effectively. Use them today to start building great habits!
1) Reward Yourself
It’s much easier to motivate yourself to do something unpleasant when you have a reward waiting for you when you’re done.
- If I finish these flashcards, I’ll give myself those M&Ms.
- If I spend Thursday night with the books, I’ll play a game online with my friends Friday afternoon.
- If I study for two hours, I’ll watch one episode (but just one!).
See how much more fun that sounds?
The best way to make sure you keep the study time and rewards in proportion is to make the requirements for the reward very specific.
If your reward is an object, set it on your desk to motivate you. If it’s an event, put it on your calendar where you can see it.
The point is to dangle the carrot in front of yourself so that you’ll keep your eye on the prize.
2) Move Around
One way to move around when you study is to physically get up and move around.
You could pace while reading or tilt your monitor so that you can see it while you do jumping jacks.
Make an excuse to get up and fetch something from another room.
Just don’t sit without moving for hours and hours. It isn’t good for your body or your brain.
Another way to move around when you study is to change the location where you are studying.
If you usually hole up in your bedroom, try spreading out your study materials on the dining table.
See if a friend wants to meet up after school.
Or better yet, sit outside in the sunlight!
Coffee shops and public libraries are great study spots, too.
Studying in a different location will keep things interesting and, surprisingly, help you remember information better.
3) Take a Break
Nobody can study for seven hours straight without taking a break. In fact, trying is just a waste of time because your brain literally can’t retain information past its saturation point.
Studying to a timer is one of the most genius and effective strategies out there.
Try one of these patterns:
- Study for 45 minutes, break for 15 minutes
- Study for 25 minutes, break for 5 minutes
These are inspired by the “Pomodoro technique,” which pretty much means to schedule work time and break time in a regular cycle.
By strictly following the timer, you give yourself a built-in break from concentrating and return to studying with a clearer, more focused mind.
Make your breaks physically active, and you’ll be moving around, too!
Does stress affect studying?
While stress is an unavoidable aspect of life, it can negatively impact your ability to learn and retain information. Short-term stress has been linked to diminished communication in the areas of the brain used for collecting and storing memories.
Taking breaks from school work and studying can reduce stress, therefore improving your brain’s ability to retain information.
The body is about 60% water.
The brain is even more than that—about 73% water.
If you want your brain to work well, give it plenty of water.
Oh, and by water, we mean water.
While coffee or an energy drink might help you stay awake, water has been linked to improving brain performance. One study claims that thirst can serve as a distraction, taking attention away from the task at hand.
A great guideline to take care of your body and brain when studying is to drink a cup of water for every cup of caffeinated beverages. This 1:1 ratio will keep you from becoming dehydrated.
5) Make Time for Sleep
In order to perform at its best, your brain needs to rest. Lack of sleep can affect your memory, thus negatively impacting your test scores.
Does sleep affect test scores?
Some scientific studies suggest that going to sleep at a reasonable hour on a regular basis can significantly impact your test scores.
In a study surveying 621 college freshmen, researchers found that students who slept at least seven hours a night during an exam period performed 10 percent better than students who stayed up late.
Is it better to stay up and study or sleep?
Research indicates that you’ll perform better if you go to bed at a decent time the night before a test and wake up earlier the next day to study. For example, you should go to bed at midnight instead of 1:00 a.m. and wake up at 7:00 a.m. to review your notes.
6) Be Disciplined
Studying is probably not the most exciting way to spend your time. But because you know what’s best for you, you’ll do it anyway. Here are some tactics you can use to stay diligent about your study time.
Don’t try to study and watch television. Don’t try to study and hang out with non-studying friends.
These are unnecessary distractions that will make your study time less efficient (and take longer).
It’s a good idea to abstain from anything that will take your attention away from the subject you are studying. Sometimes that means changing your location to avoid overhearing conversations happening around you or temporarily turning off phone notifications.
By eliminating distractions, you’re more likely to absorb the information you’re studying, and as a result, you’ll perform better on your tests.
Waiting to open your textbook the day before a test is never a good idea. You are far more likely to remember the test answers if you’ve spent weeks reviewing the material.
The test doesn’t wait for you, so you shouldn’t wait for the test.
Studying a little at a time over a longer period is scientifically better than cramming. Staying up late the night before an exam to study make you feel tired or groggy while taking the test.
Everyone has different learning styles or methods of memorization that are most effective. It’s important to find which studying methods are most effective for you.
For example, there are four different types of learners: visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinesthetic. For visual learners, drawing diagrams or infographics may be most effective. For kinesthetic learners, it may be best to create a series of exercises to help you remember. The point is, there are a variety of learning methods to choose from, and it’s important to explore which methods work best for you.
With the school year just around the corner, now is the time to think deeply about how you can get off on the right foot. Start by analyzing your study habits. We hope you’ve found some tips here that you can incorporate into your study strategy.