Study Smarter Not Harder: Effective Study Techniques Students Should Try

Learning is a natural adaptive process we go through almost every day. For students, it’s a conscious effort to do this by studying. However, some find it difficult to retain information from studying. Ir causes them to underperform during class activities and exams. It even becomes harder for more mature or college students. Professors are not as hands-on and keen on every individual’s progress. The classes are moving at a much faster pace, with more complicated concepts to learn. And the stakes of exams are much more than in high school.

With the current global pandemic, chances are classes are still online. This leaves you with more time to study on your own. You might find yourself reading for hours and nothing is clicking. This signals a problem with your studying habits. Luckily, there are effective strategies that will save you both time and stress. Hence, here are some study techniques you can try.

Don’t just reread notes

Reading does not always equate to studying. You can go over the same paragraph more than once and still forget the idea. Re-reading your notes is a tool for studying, but the key to retaining information is active engagement. It essentially refers to understanding the context of what you’re trying to learn. Some ideas to achieve this are the following:

  • formulating your own tests
  • teaching the concept as if you are the instructor
  • forming examples that you can relate to
  • using diagrams and visual aids

Space out your study time

Spaced practice or distributed studying is a method of learning that happens at different points in time. For instance, you will review a concept once every three days. So if you apply this to your curriculum, it is more effective to study each subject for a short time every day than reviewing for a single class in one sitting. Long review sessions tend to cause a lack of focus, thus diminishing retention as well. So, you can work on your Algebra for an hour then do Philosophy in the next hour. It also means you need to have discipline over your schedule. Allot a realistic amount of time for each task.

Ask for help when needed

Sometimes, even when you’ve done your best, you can get stuck. When you are struggling, don’t be embarrassed to ask for help. Discuss with your classmates or talk to your instructors about needed clarifications. Teachers will always leave a channel and preferred time of communication so you should use that. If you merely want more practice, you can still engage in extra courses to further your learning. Here is an article listing out websites that can help you in your online learning classes. It can also be helpful to aptitude exam takers, such as the SAT and GRE. If you’re interested in taking prep courses, My GRE Exam preparation provides detailed reviews of popular prep courses you can take.

Picking the right environment

Your setting is a vital factor in your studying. Find a spot where you can concentrate. It differs from one person to another. You might prefer to study in a quiet spot, or somewhere with a tolerable white noise. Perhaps you are more comfortable studying alone. You might like the company of other people. It’s also ideal to find multiple spots where you can study so that when your first option is not available, you have other places to pick.

Working (and reworking) on examples

If you’re working on technical courses such as math or statistics, working on problems helps you understand concepts better. Solving problems is usually more effective than reading texts in technical courses. If you have a test or class activity, try to rework your way around the problems. Jot down practice items shown in class and break apart the process on your own later on. It will help you fully understand the steps and pinpoint which parts are not clear to you yet. This method is much more effective than memorizing all the formulas and hoping something will fit during an exam.

Taking care of yourself

Tending to the needs of your body will help you study more effectively. Keep yourself well-rested by having enough sleep. Take breaks and reward yourself when you achieve a personal goal. And most importantly, try not to push yourself into distress and burnout. Doing schoolwork in this pandemic can be very challenging, so cut yourself some slack.


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