6 Strategies to Help You Study Effectively
Most students know how tedious and stressful it can be to study for exams. On top of that, spending hours reviewing and memorizing notes can be very frustrating. Sometimes it feels like you’ve been studying for hours and haven’t even finished one page… or haven’t even opened the book! But don’t stress, here are a few simple strategies you can use to learn and retain more material in less time.
These strategies not only help you avoid wasting time on an unproductive study session but also make studying more enjoyable and productive. Although they’re all simple, they’re easier said than done. Nevertheless, with time and practice, these tips can make studying more enjoyable and productive.
Find a quiet environment
Where should you study? Although many people do it at home, that can a distracting and noisy place to study. The ideal study environment is quiet and free of distractions. Because noise can be the hardest distraction to avoid, many students head to the library. And although interruptions can be dangerous and distracting, we’ll discuss below how planning breaks as needed can actually help you study better.
Finding a good environment can ensure an effective study session. Although you can’t control everything about your environment, the ideal study space has minimal background noise, natural light, a comfortable chair, and a clutter-free table.
When studying for exams, it’s just as important to take breaks as it is to study. Staying focused and concentrating is difficult, and the brain fatigues after about 40 minutes. Therefore, we recommend planning 5 to 10 minute breaks every 15 to 40 minutes. Well-planned breaks help you clear your mind and stay focused.
The same principle applies to the subject you’re studying. Studying the same subject for more than 40 minutes is noticeably less effective. Switching subjects every 20 to 40 minutes makes studying more enjoyable and helps you have the motivation to study.
When studying for exams, it’s very important to create goals and keep working until you reach them. That being said, it’s just as important that they are reasonable, short-term goals. It’s very easy to lose focus if you set long-term goals. On the other hand, you don’t want short-term goals that you can finish in just a couple minutes. Basically, every student needs to think of realistic goals based on their abilities.
Although some memorization techniques are a bit unorthodox, they can be very effective. An example is mnemonic devices, as used by the lead in the TV series “Sherlock” who can imagine and can remember an entire palace with rooms full of objects.
In this technique, also called the method of loci or memory palace, you imagine a house or palace and relate the knowledge you’re studying to items in each room. Other mnemonic devices involve using the material you’re studying to create songs and rhymes or associating the words with images or sensations. Although they may be unconventional, you should try all of them and choose what works best for you.
Asking yourself questions keeps you engaged and is also useful for checking what you know. On top of that, self exams are useful for consolidating knowledge by reviewing what you’ve learned and pointing out anything you need to restudy. Next, we’ll discover the benefits of studying in groups.
Join a study group
Studying with others makes your study time more effective for a few different reasons. Obviously, you can’t always study in a group, but meeting up every once in a while helps you see your shortcomings. Studying in a group allows you to see other student’s interpretation of the material and well as show you your strong and weak points.
It can also create a bit of competition, which can help you stay motivated. On top of that, anyone who’s a bit behind can benefit from the knowledge of more advanced students in the group. On the other hand, advanced students need to keep challenging themselves and be careful not to plateau.
Learning how to learn is a very useful like skill. Putting these studying strategies in practice can help you retain more information from studying. Use these 6 strategies and adapt them to your personal situation and you’ll see that your study sessions will gradually become more productive and enjoyable.