How do I study? This question has been asked by nearly every student and helps many people memorize and apply what they learn. The biggest challenge they face, and the reason they have to ask this question, is that there is no set way to study. They have to figure out what works best for them. However, there are some constants that have been proven to work for studying and shared by multiple esteemed universities. This is the top ten best study tips—along with how to destress.
1) Review and Test Yourself Regularly. It is recommended to sort the information that you are studying into categories of how often you need to review them, from every day to every 14 days. Reviewing notes and studying in other ways helps with better recall of the information. Some recommended ways to review are writing tests for yourself, finding common mistakes that you make, and having other people quiz you. You can find more information about efficient studying from Simon Fraser University.
2) Study on a schedule, don’t wait to feel motivated to study. If you set aside time every day or something along those lines to study, you will feel more prepared to study and eventually it will become a habit. If you have the problem of not having enough time, then try writing your notes on flashcards. According to Chadron State College, “use them during “dead time,” such as standing in a check-out line, waiting in a doctor or dentist’s office, riding a bus, or waiting at the Laundromat.”
3) Don’t cram. Spread your schedule out so that you can study over the course of days or weeks. It is better for memory to study before bed as well, however, pulling an all-nighter is not recommended. This is because the brain is able to truly retain information in your sleep, and obtain new information when you are awake. Relating back to point 2, if you schedule yourself to study every day before bed—it will truly increase your retention of the information.
4) Use retrieval practice. Rather than flip over a flashcard when you think you know the answer, write down what you think the answer is and then check it. This will help with the muscle memory of writing it down, as well as knowing that you are confident in the answer.
5) Take good notes. You don’t necessarily have to take a lot of notes, but usually it is good to write down everything so that there is no confusion about what you wrote when you review it later. Also, try putting the information in your own words to help you understand it as you have to.
6) Dedicate an area to your studying. If you get in the mindset that you study and only study in that place, then it will be easier to concentrate on studying when you go there. This is the same reason why when you go into the kitchen you feel like you should be eating food.
7) Try to limit interruptions. Make sure that everything you need for studying is there when you are studying, and if you need a snack, bring it to where you are studying beforehand to prevent you from abruptly interrupting studying by walking to the kitchen.
8) To improve the efficiency of your studying, try the SQ3R (SQRRR) technique. This essentially gives you a checklist and helps with focus. It begins by surveying, skimming the important information of what you are trying to learn. Then formulate questions about the material and read to find the answers when you study. Lastly, recite and review the material to repeat it and ensure that you understand what you learned.
9) Try teaching others with The Feynman Technique. This is the process of explaining the material simply and reviewing it as though you had to teach it to someone else. On this note, if there is someone that you can study the material with, it would be very effective to teach each other the material, so that both of you can retain it better.
10) If you are more of a visual learner, try Mind-mapping. It begins by writing the main topic in the center of a piece of paper. Then write related terms and concepts that stem out from that word. As it expands, write more detailed things. This technique is very similar to how the brain stores information, and is usually quite effective.
Studying usually requires a lot of time, and each class will require studying, so how do you keep that seemingly immense workload from creating unnecessary amounts of stress in your life? College students Ben Fox and Amanda Oravec shared their advice on the test-prep website Kaptest. One way to reduce stress is to “engage in a physical activity … getting your body moving helps you literally sweat off tension.” If you don’t want to exercise, “writing when you are stressed” has been proven to help reduce tension. In addition, doing hobbies or something you enjoy can help reduce stress. Oravec shared that, “I normally take a time out and do something completely different from the subject I’m studying … I’m a stress baker.” The important takeaway is that everyone needs to take time away from what they are studying, and if you don’t feel like you can study anymore, don’t. Instead, take some time away and return when you feel ready.
Regardless of how you study, keep in mind that there is only so much you can study before having to stop. The most important thing is to be efficient in how you study, and when you have accomplished all you set out to do, you’ve finished.