By: Darcie Lusk on October 27th, 2020
Best Study Tips for Students
Studying is an essential skill when it comes to academic success, but studying doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Whether you are a student struggling to find a study strategy that works for you or a parent looking to help your student improve their study habits, there are specific approaches you can apply to develop better study skills and get results. In this post, I will be sharing study tips that will help students succeed in school and in their future life experiences.
Order and Organization
Order and organization are the foundation of successful study habits. Without them, effective studying is almost impossible! So before looking for a study improvement plan, make sure you have routines and tools in place to stay organized in school.
Be sure to incorporate some essential supplies to perform well.
Planners – Use planners and calendars to keep track of assignment deadlines and test dates. Write everything down to ensure nothing is overlooked or forgotten.
Folders, Binders, and Notebooks – Have a designated folder, binder, and/or notebook labeled for each subject to keep all relevant information together. Having the information for each class organized will make your study time more productive.
Pencils Cases or Desk Caddies – Keep necessary supplies like pens, pencils, erasers, and highlighters together in a pencil case or desk caddy. Having these necessities at your fingertips will make schoolwork go more smoothly.
Research and experience verify a direct connection between disorganization and poor school performance, so make sure you are organized first. Then, consider implementing the following ideas to make study sessions as effective as possible.
Select Your Surroundings
Few of us consider the impact of our surroundings on our ability to study well. Yet, research indicates that surroundings have a significant effect on academic performance. Before beginning a study session, consider a few environmental factors.
Where and when do you concentrate best?
Flexible seating has been recognized as a valuable part of helping students stay engaged, so it makes sense to consider where to study for the best results. If a desk or table and chair seating arrangement encourage focus, use them! But if those traditional locations result in fidgeting and distraction, consider some other options. If a more comfortable chair, a couch, a spot on the floor, standing at a tall table, or pacing back and forth actually create more concentration, use them instead. Some students even find that a variety of seating options works best, especially during longer study sessions.
Choosing a location that suits you in other ways is important, too. Consider the lighting, the temperature, and the background noise when deciding where to study. All of these factors can play a role in increasing or decreasing our ability to focus.
Timing can be everything when it comes to studying, so choosing when to study can be just as important as choosing where. Studies show that humans vary when it comes to their most productive time of the day, so before you begin studying, think about when you are the most focused.
- Right after exercise? Or a healthy snack?
If possible, plan to study when you tend to be the most alert and productive. Add the study time to your planner or calendar and commit to it. Find someone to hold you accountable for keeping your scheduled “study appointment.” The results will be worth it!
Wherever and whenever you study best, be sure to eliminate distractions. Keep devices in another room or give them to a family member while you study. Clear the area of other distractions, too. Even clutter can be diverting! A neat, organized space will be more conducive to concentration.
Attitude and Accountability
If studying has been a consistent struggle, it is no wonder some students dread even the thought of studying and often avoid it altogether.
According to Psychology Today’s Elizabeth Lombardo, altering our attitude about any dreaded task, including studying, is the first step in making progress. Changing our thoughts, words, and expectations can make an enormous difference in the effectiveness of our study time.
Thoughts: Instead of dreading study time, think of how to make the task of studying more appealing. Turning study into a game or breaking the study session into short amounts of time can remove some of the angst.
Words: Replace expressions such as “I have to study” with statements like “I choose to study.” Making studying our choice helps us realize we are doing something that benefits us in the long term.
Expectations: Setting positive expectations for our study time is another way to increase success. Set specific, achievable study goals, expect to reach them, and reward yourself for your efforts.
Accountability is another powerful tool to actually achieving better study habits. According to the American Society for Training and Development, people are “65% more likely to meet a goal after committing to another person” and 95% more likely to succeed if they implement regular meetings with that person. Students wanting to improve study skills should involve a family member or friend to hold them accountable. Identify someone that can help you develop a plan and stick to it.
When developing your plan, be sure to do the following:
- Start small. Don’t try to tackle everything at once! Break large tasks into manageable pieces.
- Set honest and realistic goals.
- Schedule and commit to intermediate deadlines.
- Prioritize your purpose. Think about how studying will help you ultimately achieve long-term goals, like graduation, post-secondary plans, or even character development.
Having someone hold you accountable to the plan you create will be a huge benefit to your success.
Tips and Techniques
Valuable study sessions also factor in how we study best. Consider what works for you.
Do you prefer to study independently? Study with others? Or a mix of both? Determine which of these arrangements suits you and the topic best when planning a study session.
Are you a visual learner? Flashcards and class notes will benefit your study time.
Are you an auditory learner? Try recording yourself saying the information so you can listen to it as you review.
Are you a kinesthetic learner? Incorporate movement and games into your study session to make it the most productive.
Since studying can seem like a vague directive, incorporating some specific techniques can provide structure to a study session, improving efficiency and results.
Applying these memory principles can make studying more effective:
Repetition – Repetition is the foundation of memory. Look for various ways to repeat information when you study.
Exaggeration – Things that are exaggerated are easier for us to remember. Use your imagination to create fun, silly ways to remember information.
Chunking – Chunking information into small groups makes the concepts more manageable for our memories.
Association – We tend to remember things that are associated with something that is already familiar to us. Think of connections to familiar items or experiences when studying information.
Pictures – Visual information is easier to remember because it is less abstract. Use pictures and visuals to help reinforce concepts.
Incorporating various study methods can improve results:
Recall – The struggle of making yourself remember something (without looking) actually helps you remember it better. Can you explain what you have just read or studied? If not, review the material and try again.
Stories – The human mind is wired to remember stories. Put details or facts into a story to help make them more memorable.
Small Groups – Organize facts or details into small groups, anywhere from three to seven items at a time. The small groups are more manageable for the memory.
Link Ideas – When trying to remember items in a certain sequence, try linking them together. Use exaggeration to link the ideas. It will actually be easier to remember that way.
Songs, Rhymes, and Alliteration – Make up new words to familiar tunes to help learn ideas.
Memory Palace – Visualize a familiar place and a series of locations within that place. Think of one thing you are trying to remember at each location within your Memory Palace. For example, you could use locations in your home to help remember vocabulary words or events in history.
Record and Playback – Record what you are trying to learn and then listen to it over and over again.
Walk and Talk – The light exercise of walking stimulates blood flow to the brain, which in turn increases concentration and focus. Try walking through the house or yard while studying. Study out loud while walking. The multiple activities and senses incorporated will help you remember what you are studying.
Pomodoro Technique – Use a timer to ward off procrastination or feeling overwhelmed. Set the timer for less than 25 minutes and commit to really focusing on the subject for that period of time. Then take a break!
Students can further increase their success by taking advantage of all of their resources.
Online tools like flashcards, quiz programs, and learning games can enhance study time and provide variety.
Connecting with teachers through Office Hours, Homework Help, or tutoring sessions gives you opportunities to ask questions or clarify difficult concepts.
For students taking classes online, viewing class recordings is a great way to review and be sure no information was missed.
Planning study groups with classmates, either online or in person, is another great way to make studying effective and improve performance.
And, of course, be sure to reach out for help when you find yourself struggling! Asking questions demonstrates a willingness to learn and a desire to achieve.
I hope you found these study tips helpful. Remember to stay positive and try various methods to determine what works best for you. Establishing organizational skills and learning how to study efficiently and effectively will help you be successful in school and in your future.
If you'd like to learn more about PA Virtual, you can request more information here.
About the Author: Darcie Lusk is a current parent and Parent Ambassador Regional Coordinator at PA Virtual.
Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash