7 Tips for Better Study Skills
Give yourself breaks
It sounds counter-intuitive, but giving yourself breaks while studying is actually very helpful. You need to rest your mind. If you study for 60-90 minutes, be sure to take a 10-15-minute break. What do you do with your time? Eat a snack. Stretch out your muscles. Dance around your room! Just do something that will keep you active but will also give your brain a break from whatever you’re studying.
Set study goals
Before you sit down to start studying, it’s always a good idea to set goals. How many chapters/topics do you want to go through? Is there something confusing you should spend more time on? Make a list of things you need to study and mark off what you finish so you can see what you’ve done and what you have left. It can also be helpful to color-code topics.
Always think positive during your study time. If there is something you have trouble understanding, don’t think “ugh, I’m so stupid: Why aren’t I getting this?” That will make your whole experience negative and make studying unpleasant. Instead, just think “This is hard, but I know I can get this” and start to think of ways you can help yourself learn. Break down what you don’t understand. Use other sources that might present the topic in an easier way and make detailed notes of what works.
In this age of the internet and social media, it is very easy to get distracted. Turn your phone off and put it away. Try using a website blocking app (such as FocalFilter, SelfControl, StayFocusd, etc) that will block certain websites for a set amount of time. This means that even if you try to go on a website while you’re studying, the page will be blocked and you won’t have access to it.
Test yourself periodically
Make sure you’re actually retaining what you’re reading and not just staring at the words. If your textbook has review questions at the end of a chapter, go over them. You can even write down questions throughout your studying and review them when you’re done. Look at vocabulary words and try defining them before looking them up. If you’re doing math or science, try writing down the equations from memory.
Can’t stay focused while working alone? Work with partners
If working alone isn’t your thing, work with friends. If you have a question, you’ll have classmates right there to help you. And you can help them with their questions. But be careful! Make sure you are all staying on topic, not just hanging out.
Start your studying in advance, do not cram the night before
We say it time and time again: Spacing out your studying will help you retain the information in your long-term memory. Cramming the material and only works for your short-term memory. Study in advance to go back over things you don’t understand instead of just looking at it the night before. It’s much more important that you get a good night’s sleep so you are well prepared and rested in the morning.
Written by Carolyn T., Novastar Prep Writing Tutor