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Study Habits of the Successful Student

By Elena Ruff
  • 12th August 2019
  • Lauren Bachelder

Some of the most important learning happens outside of the classroom when you study. It’s your chance to tailor the lessons to your learning style and interests. But studying is neither easy nor inherently fun.

Here are six tips and tricks to help make the most of your studying:

  1. Learn about YOUR learning style
    Everyone is different when it comes to how they process and retain information. What works really well for one person might not work at all for another. There are three main learning styles: 1) visual, 2) auditory, and 3) kinesthetic. To learn more about the learning styles and find which one you favor, take this learning style quiz. Figure out which style works for you and which methods of studying (like flashcards, pneumonic devices, or games) help you remember the most information in the shortest amount of time. Remember: the amount of time you spend studying does not determine how much information you will retain. When you find the kinds of studying that make sense for your learning style, you will be able to study and retain more information in a shorter amount of time. Study smarter, not harder.
  2. Create incentives.
    Let’s face it, studying is not the most fun thing in the world to do, especially if it’s for a subject that you’re not particularly interested in. So, in order to motivate yourself to study, come up with a reward system. For example, sometimes I will let myself watch one episode of a show on Netflix after I finish studying a few chapters. Pick something that you see as a reward, but be sure that the reward is proportional to the work done. If you go through notes for 15 minutes, the reward shouldn’t be something like an hour of video games!
  3. Budget your time
    It can be really tempting to say to yourself, “I have a week before that test, so I don’t need to start studying yet.” More often than not, that time flies by, and you’re left cramming the night before the test. Cramming is more stressful and is never as effective at storing information in long-term memory. The time it takes for a person to study thoroughly can vary. Some people might need to study only a couple of hours for a test, but for others, it might take much longer. For the first test, study more than you think you need. Pick a certain amount of time you want to study, and then spread that time out over several days before the test. Schedule specific times to focus and really study, and you will be more likely to stick to your plan. Also, be sure to include regular breaks so you don’t get overwhelmed!
  4. Have an accountability partner
    When we tell someone else that we are going to do something, we are more likely to follow through. This person can be a parent, peer, tutor, or whoever you think will be a good motivator for you. If you study in groups, then it can be really effective to be each other’s accountability partners! Combine this with the incentive tip and when all of you have accomplished your study goal, you all get a reward! This means that you are all more motivated to finish your own goals, but also better motivators for each other.
  5. Teach the information to someone else
    Quizzing yourself on the material can be a great way to study, but you can convince yourself that you know the information better than you actually do. Like when you practice with flashcards, you might peek at the answer and think, “I would definitely know that if I saw it on the test.” If you teach the material to someone else, you have to be somewhat of an expert on the information. If there isn’t anyone around for you to teach, you can talk it out to your pet or even an inanimate object. This won’t be as effective, because a person can ask you questions to be sure you really know the information, but it still helps!
  6. Make it fun!
    Combine studying with something you really enjoy doing! Relate the material to a sport or hobby that you like. If you love music, set the information to your favorite song, which will not only make it more fun, but also more memorable. If you love to play basketball, try to relate the information to the different positions on a team or to the plays. Make the material relevant. Tutors can be an excellent resource, especially if they have similar interests! To find a great tutor who can help you study effectively, make an account now at ubermatch.apollotutors.org!