How to Develop Effective and Efficient Study Skills

When you sit down to study, how do you transfer that massive amount of information from the books and notes in front of you to a reliable spot in your mind? You need to develop good study habits. At first, it’ll take a good deal of conscious effort to change your studying ways, but after a while, it’ll become second nature, and studying will be easier to do.

Preparing to Study

Manage your time. Make a weekly schedule and devote a certain amount of time per day to studying. This will also improve your grades. That amount will vary depending on whether you’re in high school or college, and also varies by field of study. Make sure you stick to your schedule as much as possible but don’t be afraid to go off of plan sometimes to study more for the most recent upcoming exam. Make sure this study plan is realistic and not impossible. Don’t forget to schedule in everything, from eating, dressing, and commuting, to labs and scheduled classes.

  • You need to balance school, work, and extra-curricular activities. If you are really struggling with your classes, you may want to give up the afterschool job or an extra-curricular activity until your grades come up. You need to prioritize your time. Remember: your education is the most important thing.
  • For college classes, you should base the hours you study per class on how difficult the class is and how many credit hours the class is worth. For example, if you have a 3 hour physics class that is really hard, you want to study 9 hours a week (3 hrs x 3 for hard difficulty). If you have a literature course that is worth 3 hours and is kinda hard, you may want to study 6 hours a week (3 hrs x 2 for medium difficulty).

Pace yourself. Find the best speed for you to study and adjust accordingly. Some concepts or classes will come to you more naturally, so you can study those more quickly. Other things may take you twice as long. Take the time you need and study at the pace you feel comfortable.

  • If you study more slowly, remember that you will need more time to study.

Get enough sleep. Make enough time in your schedule to get enough sleep. Get a good night’s sleep every night and you’ll be making the best of your study time. This is important as you lead up to the test, and especially important right before you take the test. Studies have shown that sleep positively impacts test taking by improving memory and attentiveness. Staying up all night studying may sound like a good idea, but skip the all-night cram session. If you study throughout the weeks, you won’t need to cram anyway. Getting a good night’s sleep will help you perform better.

  • If you end up a little sleep deprived despite your best efforts, take a short nap before studying. Limit your nap to 15-30 minutes. After you wake, do some physical activity (like you would do during a break) right before you start.

Clear your mind of anything that doesn’t have to do with the topic you’re studying. If you’ve got a lot on your mind, take a moment to write yourself some notes about what you’re thinking about and how you feel before you start studying. This will help to clear your mind and focus all your thoughts on your work.

Eliminate electronic distractions. One of the worst distractions for studying is electronic devices. They are hooked up to social media, you receive texts through your phone, and your laptop is hooked to the internet. Silence your cell phone or keep it in your bag so it’s not there to distract you if someone calls or texts you. If you can, don’t open your laptop or connect it to the internet.

  • If you are easily distracted by social networking sites such as YouTube, Facebook, or others, download one of the available applications to instantly block some of the distracting sites on your computer. When you are done with your work, you can unblock access to all the sites as before.

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