Although there are plenty of resources and materials readily available to make the study process more effective, a lot of students still find learning to be a challenging endeavor. Whether they have to study for an exam, improve their skills in certain areas or simply absorb new information, many students can’t seem to get the results they are hoping for.
If you’re one of those students, you might be wondering what you’re doing wrong. What if we told you it’s not about putting more effort into it, but about finding the best methods and techniques that will make learning easier, more effective, and a bit more enjoyable as well? Yes, it’s possible to study better with less effort, if you focus on developing better study habits.
Here are some things you should consider if you want to make the most of your time and step up your study game.
Choose a proper study environment
Studying in a quiet library is definitely not the same as studying in a café or in your bedroom. While some people might find the peace and tranquility of a library helpful, others will feel more comfortable studying in a place they’re familiar with.
We all have different preferences when it comes to the learning environment, so it’s important to find a space that will motivate you and not get in the way of the study process. If you don’t have a favorite spot for studying, you can create one yourself. Choose a place that is quiet, comfortable and make sure there’s nothing around that could distract you. You can also add decorations or items that can help boost your motivation.
If you study for eight hours today and then you study for another eight hours the next week, you’ll never be able to retain all the information you want. That also applies to the classic all-nighters students usually pull before an exam. You might feel like you’re learning a lot, but you’ll probably forget most of the information you absorb in these long sessions after a short time.
Our brain processes information much better when we study in shorter chunks of time. Instead of trying to learn as much as possible in one never-ending session, it’s better to plan shorter sessions and study every day. Being consistent and practicing regularly will help you move the information you absorb from your short-term memory into your long-term memory.
Take regular breaks
It’s important to avoid distractions and stay focused on your study material during your study sessions, but it’s just as important to know when to stop and take a break. We all have our limits, so if you feel like you’re close to reaching yours, don’t push yourself to the brink of exhaustion. That won’t help you become a better student. On the contrary, it will only make you waste your precious time, and you’ll feel tired and frustrated.
What you should do is take regular breaks when you feel that fatigue is starting to set in. Get up, move around, grab a snack or take a breath of fresh air, and when you’re feeling better continue with your study.
Create a learning schedule
It’s easy to procrastinate or be a little disorganized when you don’t have a clear plan to help you stay on track. Creating a learning schedule can work wonders for your productivity and keep you focused on what you have to do. Place your calendar somewhere where you can see it all the time, just to make sure you won’t forget about your study sessions. This will help you plan your time more effectively, so you won’t be tempted to leave things for later. It will also make it easier for you to break tasks down into more manageable chunks in order to make the whole process a bit less daunting.
Use the right tools
Nowadays, you’ll find plenty of resources and tools that can make life as a student infinitely easier. Whether you want to improve your time management skills, create detailed schedules, write reports and rearrange PDF pages, or take notes the smart way, there’s certainly an app or a tool that can help you. And the best thing about it is that a lot of these tools are completely free, so you can start using them right away. Just remember to check if the programs you choose will work on your devices, so you don’t get any unpleasant surprises down the road.
Know your learning style
Just as important as picking the right learning environment, it is also important to know the different learning styles such as using visuals, audio, or other formats. Some students learn better by using visuals, others find it more helpful to listen to audio instructions, and so on. You should find out what makes you retain information easier and adopt a learning style that works best for you. Try different learning techniques until you find the ones that bring you the best results.
Remember there are no hard rules to learning. You can develop your own style, using different methods and tools. You might be an audio learner and learn best by reading your study material. Or you might discover that including colors and infographics in your study sessions helps you more than anything else.
There’s a good reason people say practice makes perfect. When you practice the same thing over and over again, you’ll perfect your knowledge and skills. It’s important to go back over the things you’ve learned during your study sessions to solidify the knowledge you’ve gained and make sure you’ll retain the information.
The easiest and most efficient way to ensure that you have learned your material, is to review and revise them through quizzes and tests. You don’t have to do it on your own though. You can ask a friend to test you in order to more readily identify your strong and weak points.