Studying and time management can be hard. Whether you are a student or continuing your education, these study tips may help you become a better student, increase your retention of information, and make learning
1. Know your learning style
Everyone takes in information in different ways: some people learn by watching others, some learn best by working with their hands. Knowing how you prefer to take in information can help you study better because you can learn to adapt the information coming at you to the way you learn best. Taking a learning style preference quiz
such as the VARK can help you figure out what works for you. In addition, the VARK website includes some tips and tricks for implementing practical strategies based on your learning style.
2. Use Mnemonics
Mnemonics are just a fancy
way of saying memory techniques. Using mnemonics can help you remember information more accurately and quickly. There is a wealth of mnemonic techniques you can utilize without having to learn a new skill such as turning the information you are learning into a song, an acronym or rhyme, image or phrase. More complex mnemonics take a little more time to learn how to implement, but the payoff is worth the effort. For more information on memory techniques, see the resource section at the bottom of this post.
3. Prioritize your tasks
With the amount of information, assignments and due dates students are faced with it can be overwhelming as to what to do tackle first. Using a system for prioritizing can help you figure out where to start. For example, color coding your agenda or to-do list using a traffic-light system can help you get more organized. Grab those colored pencils, pens or crayons and put a green dot beside or underline anything that is easy or low-priority, yellow/amber for anything that is mid-level priority/difficulty level, and red for urgent tasks.
4. Scheduling & Re-scheduling
Scheduling in your study time, when you will work on assignments, leisure time, and all the other things can help you keep on track with your work. Selecting a specific time creates a natural cue for you to do the thing you said you were going to do. Since “later” is not on your clock, it does not get to be the time you select because there will be no cue for you to do the thing you are supposed to do.
Make sure you put your schedule somewhere you can see it and are most likely to use it. If you never look in your phone calendar or just swipe those pesky reminders away then maybe a paper agenda would be better for you. If you always lose paper but have your phone: maybe a phone calendar would be better. If you need additional cues, use visual items such as a post-it note.
If you cannot complete your scheduled task or appointment re-schedule it for yourself! (again “later” is not a time so doesn’t count as re-scheduling).
5. Make your space comfortable
If your study space isn’t functional or comfortable then you won’t want to hang out there to do your work. Is your chair comfortable? Is it too loud or too quiet? How is the lighting? Is there a lot of distraction or mess? Is everything you need there? Taking care of these little things can make your workspace more enjoyable and make you more likely to use it. In addition, having a study space that is separate from your leisure spaces can help create a healthy separation of work and home life.
Sandwiches may not have anything to do with studying, but the concept of sandwiching does. The basic concept of sandwiching is starting with something easy or enjoyable, then switching to something more difficult or boring and then ending with something easy/enjoyable. If you are always starting and ending on a good note, then it is easier to start and come back to tasks. For example, you could start and end each study session by just reading through your flash cards. Then perhaps tackle some of that essay you haven’t started in the middle, then end by reading flash cards again.
7. Use Technology
Technology can be your friend and make things a lot easier. Spreeder is a great app that speed-reads words to you so you can get through those papers quicker. Read & write gold is another application that can read aloud to you, create voice notes, and help you with your grammar, and more. Dictation software such as Dragon can help you write your essay just by speaking! There are a ton of tools out there to help you be a more efficient student, use them! Websites such as cram.com and quizlet.com are great sources for flashcards that people have already created: less work for you!
8. Study smarter, not harder!
Often students will start their academic career by reading every word they have been told to read. But after a while students tend to figure out that they don’t need to read EVERYTHING: just the important stuff. For example, the first sentence of a paragraph usually summarizes what the paragraph is going to be about. Read the first sentence and then make a decision if you need to read the paragraph for more info on that subject. The whole paper can also usually be tackled in the same way: sometimes you don’t need to know what every formula is or the details of every single method or table in the paper. Most important sections commonly include the introduction, abstract, conclusion and discussion. Focus on those first then dive into the other sections if you need to.
Learning to read faster can also help you study much quicker. Take a free speed reading course to get more tips an tricks that will cut down on your study time and get you to the pub quicker.
9. Stop studying so hard
Our brains have a limited capacity to take in information, so trying to grind out a 4-hour study session may not be doing you any favors. Taking small breaks in between your study sessions can help you keep on track and refresh your brain. A 5-15 minute break won’t interfere with your study time as much as you may think, in fact it may make it more productive by getting you re-focused, increase your motivation, and let your brain settle with the information it already learned.
10. Take care of yourself
Often during busy exam times taking care of basic needs such as eating, sleeping, exercising and socializing take a back burner for other priorities. Eating regularly is essential as your body needs fuel in order to learn. Exercising will help you relieve stress and be more focused. Sleeping is essential for just about everything, so try not to skimp on that either. While it may sound counter productive to include social time in this list, socialization and engagement with others releases dopamine into our bodies, which makes us feel good. If you feel good, you may be more likely to study and come through your exams with a good grade, and your sanity intact. R
Resources for More Information
Mnemonics and Memory Improvement
Changing Minds This website has good explanations of a variety of memory methods and techniques.
Academic Tips This website includes an extensive guide to a variety of memory techniques and mnemonics.
CoSchedule Blog Memory Techniques For those who like visual and audio materials, this website includes video and audio of some common memory techniques.
Speed Reading Resources
Spreeder Free speed reading tool. Copy and paste large chunks of text then speed read it.
Read Speeder A free course that walks you through some step-by-step speed reading activities.
Speed Reading Course A 5 part free speed reading course on YouTube with some great retention and memory improvement techniques too.