Study Smarter, Not Harder: 11 Study Tips to Upgrade Your Study Game
Study Tips will help you make study habits and methods important for all students, especially during challenging times like the COVID-19 pandemic. With many students now facing remote learning and less supervision, developing good study routines, and learning proper techniques for how to study is more important than ever. Thankfully, science provides research-backed strategies to study more productively. By implementing these tips on how to study, you can retain information better and boost academic performance.
With many students now facing remote learning and less supervision, developing good study routines is more important than ever. However, most students have never been taught efficient study methods. Science offers solutions. Psychological research over decades has revealed the study tips and habits that work best. While some basics help all students, other tactics are better suited to certain subjects. By adapting these science-based tips to your needs, you can become a smarter, more effective learner.
Table Of Content
- Space Out Your Studying
- Practice Regularly
- Avoid Mere Rereading
- Test Yourself
- Learn from Mistakes
- Interleave Your Study Topics
- Utilize Visual Aids
- Seek Concrete Examples
- Delve Deeper into the Material
- Plan Your Study Sessions
- Prioritize Self-Care
1. Space Out Your Studying
Cramming the night before an exam is a common instinct. However, research shows it’s more productive to space out study tips.
Spacing out study sessions over multiple days or weeks is one of the most effective study methods according to scientific research, leading to better long-term retention compared to cramming. In one study, students who spaced lessons over four days learned vocabulary words better than those who crammed the day before a test. Your memory works like a leaking bucket. Cramming tries to top off a full bucket, so not many sticks. Spacing sessions allow some forgetting, so the bucket empties a bit. That creates room to relearn and add more.
Spreading out study Tips prevents fatigue too. Cramming is exhausting. But consistent, spaced practice keeps you fresh and engaged.
So don’t just cram - space out study sessions over days or weeks. This takes some planning but leads to deeper learning and retention.
2. Practice Regularly
Like athletes and musicians, students need consistent practice to improve their skills. Research shows spacing practice over time is key for retaining information.
In one study, students who took practice tests over several weeks scored more than a full letter grade higher on the final exam. Regular practice exams boost learning and long-term memory.
Brief practice tests with short breaks in between are also beneficial. Repeated recall strengthens neural pathways, reinforcing the knowledge. To study smart, students should treat learning like any other class by scheduling regular practice and self-testing sessions to reinforce their knowledge over time.
Treat studying like a habit. Set aside regular time to review study material, test yourself, and strengthen your understanding.
3. Avoid Mere Rereading
It’s common to reread textbooks and notes repeatedly to prepare for exams. However, research shows this passive review is largely ineffective. In one study, students who read a text once performed just as well on a test as those who read it twice. Rereading provides a false sense of familiarity with the material.
However, it does not enhance real learning and retention. Passively rereading material often feels like studying but is not a very smart or effective study strategy according to cognitive research.
Active engagement - like self-testing or answering questions - is far better. Without retrieving knowledge yourself, you never really know if you grasp the concepts.
So don’t just passively reread the material. Put the book down and actively recall the key facts and ideas yourself. This boosts true understanding, not just recognition.
4. Test Yourself
Testing yourself on the material, known as retrieval practice, is a powerful study strategy supported by much research. The act of recalling information strengthens neural connections, reinforcing your knowledge. This active learning sticks better than a passive review. Retrieval practice through self-testing is one of the smartest study techniques students can use according to science, leading to better long-term retention than simply rereading material.
Self-quizzing with flashcards is an easy way to implement retrieval practice. Create flashcards for key terms, concepts, and formulas. Then test yourself periodically to strengthen your grasp and long-term memory.
When creating self-test questions, think like your teacher. Go beyond definitions to higher-level applications, comparisons, and analysis. Challenging retrieval helps you mimic exam conditions. Friends can even text or call each other with quiz questions. The social aspect makes it more fun too!
5. Learn from Mistakes
Retrieval practice inevitably leads to mistakes. But errors are learning opportunities, key to identifying weak areas to improve. Checking answers turns mistakes into valuable lessons.
Research shows the specific problems you get wrong are more important than overall time spent testing. Pinpoint those mistakes, understand where your knowledge is lacking, and focus your study efforts there. Making mistakes is a normal part of the learning process, so students should not be discouraged when employing active study methods like self-testing that reveal gaps in knowledge.
Brain science shows failure strengthens learning. Mistakes indicate where deeper neural pathways are needed. By confronting errors, you solidify your grasp of concepts and developmental models. The smartest students view mistakes made during practice tests as opportunities to improve rather than signs of failure. So embrace mistakes in practice tests! Identifying weaknesses prepares you for exam challenges.
6. Interleave Your Study Topics
Interleaving involves mixing up your study topics and practice questions. This contrasts with studying one thing intensively before moving on. Interleaving has proven benefits for long-term learning.
When topics are interleaved, the contrasts help you distinguish concepts and see relationships between them. Varied practice engages you more too.
In a study of math students, those who interleaved different types of volume problems scored higher on exams. The variation improved their mental models and ability to apply principles. So when self-testing, mix it up! Shift between terminology, historical trends, calculation methods, theories, and more. This engages your brain and builds flexible understanding.
7. Utilize Visual Aids
Visual tools like diagrams, charts, and illustrations are powerful study aids. They help build vivid mental models and provide concrete examples. Even making your simple doodles can boost retention.
In one study, students who added visual notes to lecture outlines performed better on tests than those relying on text alone. Visuals support all learners but especially benefit those who are less skilled at making mental models from writing. Infographics, diagrams, and other visual study methods are extremely useful for building mental models and aiding recall, especially for topics involving abstract concepts or spatial relationships.
Graphs transform abstract numbers into easily grasped trends. Diagrams show spatial relationships and clarify complex systems. Visual metaphors help anchor challenging concepts. So pay close attention to the graphics in your textbooks and class materials. Add your quick sketches too!
8. Seek Concrete Examples
Abstract ideas can be hard to grasp, but concrete examples make them clearer and more memorable. A tangible sample gives your brain an image to associate with the concept.
In a study on learning about acids, students given examples like lemons and vinegar recalled the concepts more easily. The examples cemented the connection between sourness and acids.
Math and science classes often teach principles in theoretical terms first. Augment these abstract lessons with specific examples you generate. Make the ideas real by linking them to objects, scenarios, and applications familiar in your daily life. These concrete anchor points will aid your retention tremendously.
9. Delve Deeper into the Material
Strong study requires active questioning and analysis, known as elaboration. Dig into the “how” and “why” underlying facts and concepts. This integration cements knowledge by connecting it to existing mental frameworks.
In a study asking students to remember facts about different men’s actions, elaboration made a huge difference. Students who answered questions about why each man acted remembered the details far better than those who just memorized the statements.
Push past surface details to interact with material more deeply. Question assumptions, think of examples, and make connections to prior knowledge. If it seems abstract, probe with questions to ground it in a practical sense. Teach concepts to someone else. The deeper mental effort pays off in stronger learning.
10. Plan Your Study Sessions
Many students know techniques like spacing, testing, and elaboration are effective. Yet few make detailed plans to implement them. Even with good intentions, studying often becomes an afterthought.
Research shows planning how to study strategies is essential to follow through. Establish a consistent routine with set times and locations. Treat studying like any other class by scheduling it into your calendar. Stick to the agenda and make learning a priority amidst other demands.
Allow breaks during study blocks to refresh your focus. Brief exercise, snacking, and phone checks recharge mental energy.
Planning is the first step. Execution takes self-discipline. But regular study habits quickly become normal with a bit of routine.
11. Prioritize Self-Care
Don’t underestimate the importance of sleep, nutrition, and wellness for academic success. Your brain needs rest and energy to perform optimally. Make time for sleep, healthy food, and exercise around your study schedule. Even short breaks during study sessions to move around restore mental focus.
Stick to routines as much as possible but avoid stress if some plans must change. Do your best to adapt to the ongoing uncertainties of the pandemic. Be kind to yourself when motivation lags. Staying balanced and positive keeps you on track when challenges arise.
With some science-based modifications, you can study smarter, not just harder. Start by spacing sessions instead of cramming. Test yourself regularly to cement concepts. Interleave topics to see connections.
Create visual study aids. Most importantly, actively engage with the material at a deeper level through questioning and elaboration. By learning and applying research-backed tips on how to study smarter, students can take control of their education and excel academically, even during challenging times. Learning new study habits takes patience. Try adding one new technique every few weeks. Over time, these strategies become second nature. Adapt them to your needs and academic goals.
How to Study Smarter - FAQs
How can I motivate myself to study when I don't feel like it?
Set specific goals for study sessions, schedule rewards after completing tasks, study with friends to stay accountable, and remember your reasons for learning. Having set routines also helps build motivation over time.
What are the best study techniques for STEM classes like math and science?
Practice solving different types of problems, draw diagrams and visual models, do hands-on experiments, explain concepts aloud to others, and try to relate concepts to everyday examples.
How much should I study each day to be successful in school?
Quality is more important than quantity. Plan 50-90 minutes of active studying per class, broken into short blocks. Regular short sessions are better than marathon cramming.
How do I balance studying with extracurricular activities and social life?
Use calendars to schedule fixed study times first, then plan activities. Study in smaller blocks rather than marathon sessions. Prioritize tasks and occasionally say no to lower priorities.
What food and drinks help boost energy and concentration when studying?
Water, green tea, nuts, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protein sources like eggs and yoghurt help avoid energy crashes while studying. Limit sugary and fried foods which can reduce focus.
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