The school year is just getting started, so for many, the “real studying” hasn’t quite begun. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared, and many studying techniques require preparation. Here are the top studying tips and techniques to set yourself up for success this year.
This is an obvious one, but it can be easier said than done. The world is FULL of distractions, from pets barking to phones buzzing to “background noise” TV shows. It’s up to students to ensure they are doing what they can to minimize distractions like:
- Put phones on “Do Not Disturb” mode.
- Don’t listen to music with lyrics.
- If you need background nose, consider a white noise machine vs. the television.
Additionally, try to eliminate multitasking. It’s been proven time and time again that multitasking is actually detrimental to results and efficiency. Therefore, ensure you are focused on one task at a time.
Get Adequate Sleep
Another seemingly obvious tip, but difficult to say the least. College students are infamous for pulling “all-nighters” to study for an exam. However, this is not only a cramming technique (see below), but sleep is imperative to a healthy brain. Without adequate sleep, your brain function suffers, so even if you did get all the way through the materials, your brain can’t help because it’s too tired!
You’ve probably heard this before, but cramming can be a tempting technique for students, especially if there’s a lot going on (practice, plays, events, etc.). However, cramming is not an effective studying technique. While it can add the information to short-term memory, it doesn’t help the brain retain it for long, and the context, which can be critical to finding the correct answer, usually isn’t there.
Additionally, long hours of studying tend to lead to a lack of concentration and retention. Experts recommend spacing out shorter study sessions over several days/weeks for the best results. You can spend a short time studying for each class every day so as not to get overwhelmed or bored of a subject. These short bursts of studying can last for 30-45 minutes and are also known as intensive studying.
Actively Engage With the Material
When it comes to retaining information, many of us don’t do well with just rereading books. Additionally, you may miss important info by just rereading your notes. It’s recommended to actively engage in the material by reviewing the high-level topic and asking questions. Then, use your notes and the textbook to answer those questions.
Make comments on your notes where you may have missed details or notate an example of something you’re learning about. By elaborating on your notes (i.e., Ask why things are a certain way. How did they come about? Why do they matter?), it helps you think about them in a different way and further retain the information.
Identify areas you’re accelerating at and where you need help. You can do this through a multitude of methods, including testing yourself. You can make flash cards, print off study guides, or create a pre-test for yourself from notes if you know what will be covered in the exam.
There are many methods used for studying, and some work better than others for different subjects. However, the below techniques offer great starting points if you’re unsure of where to begin. They are similar, but you can use whichever one works best for you.
- Survey: Skim through the material, focusing on the emphasized pieces (i.e., headings, bold print, diagrams, etc.).
- Question: Form questions related to what you’ve skimmed.
- Read: Read the text and answer your questions.
- Recite: Reiterate the answers and take notes on them.
- Review: Reread the text and your notes aloud.
- Preview: Skim the material. Read titles, headings, and other highlighted text.
- Question: Consider questions that pertain to the material.
- Read: As you read the material, look for the answers to your questions.
- Reflect: Ensure you’ve answered all the questions and any new ones that came up.
- Recite: Narrate the things you just read aloud.
- Review: Look over the material again.
- Title: Read the title.
- Headings: Look through the headings.
- Introduction: Skim the intro.
- Every first sentence in a section: Look at how each section begins.
- Visuals and vocabulary: Look at the pictures and the words in bold print.
- End questions: Review the questions at the end of the chapter.
- Summary: Read the overview of the text.
Spacing Technique Suggested Schedule
- Day 1: Learn the material in class.
- Day 2: Revisit and review.
- Day 3: Revisit and review.
- After one week: Revisit and review.
- After two weeks: Revisit and review.
The age-old tale of “you need to put good in to get good out” still reigns true. You can improve your studying by giving your body certain foods and nutrients that boost your brain’s ability to focus and recall details. Here are some nutrients to start adding to your study snacks.
- Zeaxanthin & Lutein
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin B6
- Folate (Vitamin B9)
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin E
Studying is a marathon, not a sprint. Perhaps the most important study tip is to be kind and patient with yourself. Use these techniques to help get you on the right path and make this school year the best yet! Learn about two daily supplements (for adults and kids) that can help boost brain power and protect the eyes from increased screen time this school year.