The skill of studying is essential for students to master. Doing so keeps your grades up, increases your learning, and helps prepare you for the rigors of college courses.
It will also improve your academic performance so you can qualify for some merit-based scholarships (but not all – it’s a common myth about scholarships that you need straight A’s to qualify. In fact, several scholarships are a cinch to apply for, like those offered by WiseGeek and Bold).
Studying for classes is always a bit of a challenge. But now, with schooling moving more online, it’s become even more critical to learn study hacks as you continue your education. Get started with these 4 proven study habits of top college students.
The first tip to becoming a pro in your studies is to learn how to plan for and prioritize them. Block out time every day to work on readings or assignments in each class. Distributing your work throughout the week (as opposed to cramming last minute) will improve your knowledge retention.
And be sure to schedule time for fun in your week, too. It will help you wind down and avoid wearing out your mind from academic work. In fact, extracurricular activities have been shown to improve grades, attitude toward school, and educational goals, as well as a host of other benefits.
Set up a study space that is peaceful and organized. Have a designated “home-base” for schoolwork, like a desk, a favorite chair, or a spot at the table. Keep it free of clutter and distractions. And make sure you have everything you might need during a study session – water, headphones for music, a planner or notebook, and healthy snacks to keep you going.
In addition to having an established study spot, remember that sometimes if you’re struggling to focus, it can be helpful to get up and move your workstation somewhere new. Try a different area of the house, or even step outside to work on your balcony, patio, or at the park. Depending on the state of the pandemic spread in your area, you might also consider changing your scenery to a library, coffee shop, or the halls of your campus.
You’ll find it’s much easier to concentrate if you come to your homework session with the right energy. Try scheduling an energy-boosting activity right before study time. Do an exercise routine, meditate, eat a snack, get some coffee, or even squeeze a nap in. You’ll be much more efficient in your work if you start off on the right foot with vigor and attention.
As you study, keep that energy up with music (if it helps you), healthy brain food, and working on one task at a time. Reduce your distractions by installing an app on your phone or computer to monitor your screen time or social media use. If you need to, you can even set your phone to “do not disturb,” so you won’t be bothered by notifications while you study.
As you learn new concepts from the lectures and the readings, employ active study techniques. These are essentially tactics to get the information deeper in your brain than just hearing it or reading it once.
These might be taking notes on the things you learn, reciting important facts, taking pre-tests, or quizzing yourself on key points. You could also study with a group, teach a friend, or use flashcards to memorize dates, formulas, and other concepts.
Whatever your approach, find the strategies that work best for you, and use them regularly. These tips are most effective when they become study habits. Don’t let weekends or holidays cause you to lose your mental progress. Keep your mind active during school breaks so the learning never stops. And not only will you improve your academic performance on paper – you’ll also find more enjoyment on your academic journey.