In college, or even middle school or high school, one thing that we inevitably have to do is study. Studying for exams and quizzes, doing research for a paper or project, and even those long textbook readings will always be something that we have to do. But the question is, how? What are some “smarter” and more effective ways to study? This was always a concern of mine; I wanted to have better study habits, but I didn’t know how to get them or what they were… These five study tips are a summary of Dr. Marty Lobdell’s “Study Less Study Smart” lecture. In the beginning, I had my doubts and tried it thinking that it was the last resort, but my grades have proved that they were, in fact, effective study tips. And hopefully, they’ll be effective for you all too. Happy studying!
1. Break studying into sessions. I’ve heard this time and time again. Sitting at your desk for three hours straight looking at your textbook is not studying. Instead, break your studying time into smaller sessions. One session can be about 25-30 minutes each, and you can add a five-minute break in between each session. From own experience, I’ve found that the longest time that I can focus is 25 minutes, so that’s how long my study sessions are. But yours can be longer or shorter, depending on your attention span.
2. Create a designated study area. I don’t mind studying at the desk in my room, but my sister always studies at our dinner table in the dining room. She says that she focuses best when she studies there. Like her, designate an area where you can study best. It could be at the library, a nearby coffee shop or even your living room couch. (But avoid studying at your bed. You’ll be tempted to get too comfortable, and fall asleep.)
3. Study actively. As I mentioned, reading a textbook blankly for three hours isn’t studying. Instead, make flashcards or take notes, something that will keep your brain moving.
4. Summarize or teach what you learn. After you read a section in the textbook or take a batch of notes, try to summarize it in your own words and explain it to someone. You have to know accurately what you’re trying to teach in order to explain it to someone. It could be a stuffed animal, younger sibling or even the pillow on your bed. Try explaining as if you’re teaching a lesson, and return to your notes and look over the parts that you weren’t able to explain well.
5. Use mnemonics for studying facts. When I was in middle school and we were learning the order of operations, “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally” (PEMDAS) helped me a lot studying for quizzes. Similar to that, try creating your own mnemonics when studying facts, especially for science and history courses. It can be silly and make no sense at all, but if it helps you to get the facts down, then it’s working for you.