Just imagine how easy studying would be if you could flip a switch and have all that knowledge automatically transferred into your brain. Every student would be a huge success! Unfortunately, it isn’t that easy. The fact is, every person is different and has a different way of learning that is unique to them.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from taking a close look at tried-and-true techniques that have helped others in the past. Science has a lot to say about how to successfully acquire knowledge. It’s still up to you to do the work and make it stick, but we’re here to help.
Are you a high schooler earning their diploma to get into your favorite college? Or a recent college graduate using a CSCS study guide to jumpstart their career? Or an established professional looking to switch fields from banking to real estate? Don’t worry, these seven tips and tricks to efficiently improve your studying are effective no matter what phase of your education you’re in.
1. Spread It Out
If you think you do better cramming all your studying into one massive session, odds are you’re wrong. A better option is to plan ahead and schedule times to study in short bursts every day. While the total amount of time committed might add up to be the same, it isn’t about the amount of time spent studying… It’s how you use that time. You’re more likely to retain information and keep your concentration in shorter blocks of time.
2. Manage Your Schedule
Planning out your time can give you a helpful sense of control when everything else feels like it’s falling apart. Set aside a night each week to plan the next week’s schedule. Make notes about what you want to accomplish. Check that you have time to get it all done, and revise if necessary. Set benchmarks for your progress. Knowing how to plan your schedule is a tool you’ll use throughout your life.
3. Focus On One Thing At A Time
We all like to think multitasking is our friend, but it could be standing in between you and successful studying. Multitasking would have us believe we can spread our attention around without consequences. The fact is, we lose both time and efficiency whenever we switch tasks. The “tasks” themselves are often simply distractions. Turn off your alerts, stay off of social media, and stay focused.
4. The Sound Of Silence
Silence, or lack thereof, is an important consideration for your studying. Some people crave silence, while others need background noise. Some prefer to study while listening to music, others do not. This is a very personalized part of the studying experience. Whatever your preference, try to be considerate of others. If talking out loud during your studying is something that helps, choose an environment where it won’t distract others.
5. Location, Location, Location
Similar to what kind of sounds do and do not help you study, the environment around you can help or hinder you. It’s ideal to have more than one place that helps you concentrate; you might find that you study some topics or types of problems in one location better than you do in another. You might also find that it varies by time of day. Make sure you have some options so that your study environment matches your needs.
6. When Is It Okay To Cram?
Wait, aren’t you supposed to avoid cramming? In most cases, yes. But it can be beneficial to cram if it’s in very short intervals. You’ll get more out of cramming over the course of 30 minutes than you will over 3 hours. You can also do a session of studying followed by a session of self-testing, too. Having shorter blocks of time can help you feel less overwhelmed and help you overcome procrastination, as well.
7. Study To Teach
“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough,” if you like ironically abbreviated quotes from Albert Einstein. One of the hands-down best ways to make sure you understand the material is to study it as though you need to teach it. How would you best learn it? Teach it that way to yourself, using examples you can relate to. What would you put on a test? If you can break it down and be concise with a complicated topic, you’re most of the way there.
Study Your Studying
If you’ve struggled with studying in the past, you owe it to yourself to find what works best for your learning style. Everyone has different needs for what helps them excel; it might take some time to figure out what works best for you. Allow yourself the flexibility to try out a few of these tips and tricks so that you’re ready to go when you need them.