How to Become a Better, Smarter Studier

Discover and create a productive study space

Although this may not come as a surprise, the environment in which you surround yourself plays a major role in how well you will focus and retain information. A significant attribute to consider for your ideal study place is a place with minimal distractions. For example, I have found that studying with classmates or friends is not always the most successful method of retaining information even though it may be nearly unavoidable at times. According to WebMb, it can also be useful to position yourself in such a way that you cannot see anything or anyone, such as sitting in a cubicle or in front of a blank wall. It is also critical to remove distractions from your work zone such as upbeat music or intriguing conversations. Instead, consider finding an utterly silent place and/or listening to instrumental music while studying. Lastly, consider turning off or leaving your phone or any form of social media behind. 

Challenge yourself to learn in various ways 

Even though life would be so much easier if you could just go to class and retain everything the teacher said, studying is typically a process of finding multiple methods of memorizing and recalling information. I find that I learn and retain information by using a few key techniques. I try my best to read all the information I need to know, write it all out, and watch as many educational videos that pertain to the topic as possible. This provides me with various platforms of understanding the material and also enough time to discover what topics I may be struggling to grasp. My methods of studying, however, may not be everyone’s recipe for success. Other modes of studying to consider are verbal encoding, memory devices, or creating visuals (i.e. charts, graphs, flowcharts). By having a plethora of studying methods, you will provide yourself with various ways to comprehend the facts and finding what works best for you.  

Pace yourself 

Despite the fact that it may seem normal for college students to slip into habits, such as procrastinating or pulling all-nighters, studying is most effective when done over an extended period of time. It is important to pace yourself and give yourself sufficient time to learn new materials. Per Stanford University, cramming can overwork the brain, which can create confusion, stress, and exhaustion. Although it may be difficult and even at times impossible, try your best to study for classes over a period of time. Even if this means reviewing your notes before each class for 20 minutes, you will become more familiar with the information at hand and new information with be easier to grasp. I have noticed that I am most able to study on a consistent basis when I manage my time well and utilize my planner to set aside time which is exclusively dedicated to studying. 

Pay attention in class

Although not quite a studying tip, being present in class can actually minimize your study time altogether. Professors tend to break down or make sense of complex topics in class, so when actively listening you can ask relevant questions and receive clarification on tricky concepts. Concentrating in class can also help one develop a greater notion of what to study and tune in on for tests; this, in turn, will make you a more efficient studier. If possible, you should also motivate yourself to take hand-written notes rather than on your computer to refrain from any diversions. 

Last but not least… reward yourself!

Studying can be a drag; there is always something more fun to do than to be stuck in a library cubicle. After completing an exam or major deadline, be sure to congratulate yourself and remember that you tried your absolute best! Above this, try treating yourself to something you have been dreaming of. For me, this can be something as simple as gathering a group of friends together to catch up over dinner.