11 Scientifically Proven Tips for More Effective Studying
Updated: Jun 1
1. Set a Schedule
“Oh, I’ll get to it after I finish this” isn’t a valid study strategy. Rather, you have to be intentional about planning set study sessions.
On your calendar, mark out chunks of time that you can devote to your studies. You should aim to schedule some study time each day after class as keeping up with the classes and revising what was taught is how you get the information to stick in your mind.
2. Silence Your Cell Phone
Interruptions from your phone are notorious for breaking your concentration. If you pull away to check a notification, you’ll have to refocus your brain before diving back into your studies.
Consider turning off your phone’s sounds or putting your device into do not disturb mode before you start. You can also download apps to temporarily block your access to social media.
If you’re still tempted to check your device, simply power it off until you’re finished studying.
3. Pick a Good Place to Study
There’s a delicate balance when it comes to the best study spot: You need a place that’s comfortable without being so relaxing that you end up falling asleep. For some people, that means working at a desk. Others do better on the couch or at the kitchen table. Your bed, on the other hand, may be too comfy.
Surrounding yourself with peace and quiet helps you focus. Make sure your study space allows you to fully concentrate on your preparation.
4. Snack on Brain Food
A growling stomach can pull your mind from your studies, so feel free to snack as you work. Keep your snacks within arm’s reach, so you don’t have to leave your books to find food.
Fuel your next study session with some of the following items:
Grapes or apple slices or other seasonal fruits
Go for snacks that will power your brain and keep you alert. Steer clear of items that are high in sugar, fat and processed carbs as you are likely to experience a slump in your energy after consuming them.
5. Highlight Key Concepts
Looking for the most important information as you read helps you stay engaged with the material. This can help keep your mind from wandering as you read.
As you find important details, mark them with a highlighter, or underline them. It can also be effective to jot notes along the edges of the text. Write on removable sticky notes to really get your mind and body involved.
When you’re preparing for a test, begin your studies by reviewing your highlighted sections and the notes you wrote down.
6. Summarize Important Details
One good way to get information to stick in your brain is to tell it again in your own words. Writing out a summary can be especially effective. You can organize your summaries in paragraph form or in outline form.
Keep in mind that you shouldn’t include every bit of information in a summary. Stick to the key points.
Consider using different colors on your paper. Research shows that information presented in color is more memorable than things written in plain type. You could use colored pens or go over your words with highlighters.
After writing about what you read, reinforce the information yet again by reading aloud what you wrote on your paper.
7. Absorb Information in Smaller Chunks
Think about how you memorize a phone number: You divide the 10-digit number into three smaller groups. It’s easier to get these three chunks to stick in your mind than it is to remember the whole thing as a single string of information.
You can use this strategy when studying by breaking a list down into smaller parts. Work on memorizing each part as its own group.
8. Be the Teacher
To teach information to others, you first have to understand it yourself. Therefore, when you’re trying to learn something new, challenge yourself to consider how you’d teach it to someone else. Wrestling with this concept will help you gain a better understanding of the topic.
In fact, you can even recruit a friend, a family member or a study group member to listen to your mini-lesson. Reciting your presentation aloud to someone else will help the details stick in your mind, and your audience may be able to point out gaps in your knowledge.
9. Know When to Call It a Day
Yes, you really can get too much of a good thing. Although your studies are important, they shouldn’t be the only thing in your life. It’s also important to have a social life, get plenty of exercise, and take care of your other responsibilities.
Studies show that too much time with your nose in the books can elevate your stress level, which can have a negative effect on your performance and your personal relationships.
Too much studying may also keep you from getting enough exercise. This could lower your bone density or increase your percentage of body fat.
10. Take Regular Breaks
Study sessions will be more productive if you allow yourself to take planned breaks. Consider a schedule of 50 minutes spent working followed by a 10-minute break.
Your downtime provides a good chance to stand up and stretch your legs. You can also use this as an opportunity to check your phone. When your 10 minutes are up, however, it’s time to get back to work.
At the end of a long study session, try to allow yourself a longer break — half an hour, perhaps — before you move on to other responsibilities.
11. Change Study Locations Often
Studying the same information in multiple places helps the details stick in your mind better.
It’s best to switch between several different study spots instead of always hitting the books in the same place.
Happy studying :)