5 Best Ways to Study

Sometimes the hardest part of studying is making the most of your study time. Do you ever feel like you study forever and ever and you're not even sure if you remember anything or have been productive? Me too. We have all heard people tell us college kids to ditch the all-nighters, get rest, exercise and take study breaks. These are all important and do improve your studying, but I wanted something more. I wanted to know what exactly I should be doing while I am studying and how to study in order to be more efficient and successful, so I did some research. I found an article listing many ways to improve your studying and I picked the five ways that seemed the most important to me and easiest to implement into your real life study sessions.


1) Know when to study so you will remember it

In 1885, scientists discovered that the first time you hear a lecture or study something new, you have the best chance of remembering 80% of what you have just learned if you review the material within 24 hours (The Best Colleges, 2018). This was scientifically proven in 1885 and it still holds true today! It also doesn’t seem that hard to do. Put it in your schedule to review the material you learned in lecture the day after. Make it a routine or give yourself a small reward after each time you do it. This will improve your memory of the material and make preparing for midterms and finals not as overwhelming.


2) Use active recall

Often times when we are studying, we forget to test if we really know it. Or, we put this part off because it’s the hardest part of studying. A psych professor at the Washington University in St. Louis identified how it is important to use active recall (close the book and test what you know) because reading and rereading can lead people to think they know more than they do (The Best Colleges, 2018). Force yourself to do this when you are studying; it's hard, but worth it in the end.


3) Create & test yourself

Creativity is also important in studying. Making study maps, diagrams or whatever it may be forces you to apply the material or tie certain topics together. It is easy to lose the “big picture” when studying as you can get caught up studying the details of the subject. You can also use your creativity to make a test and test yourself. Making your own practice test can combine creativity and active recall. Testing yourself is extremely important in studying and creating your own test is a great way to do it. Don’t get overwhelmed by this either! Your tests don’t have to be huge. They can be short, open-ended questions that test the material you are not confident in.

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4) Teach what you have learned

This is honestly one of the best ways to study. Research has shown people who have better memory recall abilities when they learned material that they know they would have to teach later (The Best Colleges, 2018). This is because in order to teach you have to organize the material and identify the key take-away’s from the material. Maybe do this with a friend! You teach your study buddy what you are confident in and they do the same for you. Or, call your mom or dad on the phone and talk to them about what you are learning. You could even do it with your dog or cat (lol), it might feel weird, but could be super helpful! 

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5) Think about your thinking

What does this even mean? A key part of successful studying and learning is being able to evaluate your strengths and your weaknesses. Thinking about your thinking is also called metacognition, which is the awareness to one’s own thought processes. It plays an important role in studying when you evaluate your study and thinking skills. Is what you are doing working for you? This one is kind of abstract and weird to apply, but is quite important. 

Image Courtesy of Mental Floss


With these five study methods, try them out the next time you have midterms or finals and see how much you can improve your studying habits! Don't forget to share these with your friends as well, so you can all get the A's that you deserve!