Studying is kind of like brushing our teeth. Few of us really love doing it, but we recognize its importance and the impact it will have in the long run, so we make it a part of our routine.
Sometimes our routines become so — well, routine — that they lose their effectiveness over time. We forget how to do them properly because we go into autopilot and try to do a bunch of other things at the same time.
Here are a few study tips to make sure you’re getting the most out of your study efforts while in college.
1. Find a study space
It can be tempting study in bed or on a comfortable couch, but it would be better to find a place your mind doesn’t immediately associate with another activity, like sleeping or watching TV. Whether you prefer to study in the library, on campus or at home, find a quiet spot you can designate as your study area.
2. Get creative with your study time
Do you have some free time in between classes or on the way home from school? Use it to review notes while the materials are still fresh in your mind. You’ll notice a difference in your grades when you make it a habit to constantly review what you’ve been taught.
3. Clarification is your friend
Ask your teacher for clarification if you need it. Chances are, at least one other person in class has the same question. If you’re not comfortable asking a question in front of the whole class, consider visiting your teacher during his or her office hours. Understanding concepts is crucial to effectively studying.
4. Get organized
Keep a planner handy and schedule a time each day as study time. Doing this will help you visually organize your time and make you much less likely to waste it.
5. Join a study group
Instructors will sometimes offer study sessions leading up to exams. Take advantage of any opportunities your teachers provide for getting together outside of class and reviewing course materials. If that’s not an option, get together with a group of students from class and form your own study group.
6. Don’t procrastinate, starting now
Maybe you work well under pressure, but cramming for a test the night before isn’t going to help you remember the information in any long term capacity. By making study sessions part of your everyday routine, you won’t have to worry about pulling all-nighters or reading an entire textbook in two hours.
7. Go distraction-free
Your study time is going to be much more effective if you use it strictly for studying. This means not checking your phone, watching TV or playing on your computer while you’re supposed to be studying. A break here or there is fine; just don’t try to integrate breaks throughout the whole study session (e.g., a break every 5 minutes), or you probably won’t get much done.
8. Rewrite your notes
By rewriting (or retyping) your notes, you are forcing yourself to comprehend the material in a new way. Rewording notes helps solidify concepts in your mind.
9. Ask for feedback
Sometimes instructors will only write a grade at the top of an assignment or exam. This might leave you wondering what else you could have done to get a higher grade. Ask your teachers for feedback regarding any grades you receive for assignments or tests on which you expected to perform better. Being keenly aware of what you know and what you don’t know will help you make the most of your study time.