Studying doesn’t have to be as tedious of a task as you may think. Getting into the right habits can make all the difference between a dreadful chore and an enjoyable, helpful tool for success. Any student—whether you attend classes online or at a traditional school—can avoid cramming for tests and pulling all-nighters with these study tips:
Have a Designated Study Space
Staying focused when you’re at home is sometimes easier said than done. Distractions can challenge your focus, especially if you’re in a setting with a lot of noise—like a television or people who aren’t also studying.
Find somewhere that you’re comfortable and free from disturbances. Some options could be the:
- Coffee Shop
- Your Backyard
You could even create a nook area in your bedroom that’s specifically for studying—just make sure all possible distractions are out of sight and out of mind. It will also be helpful to avoid lying down on a bed or couch. You’ll focus better while sitting straight up in your seat.Put the Phone Away
Random dings, buzzes and tweets from your cell phone can derail your concentration, especially since they are hard to ignore. Make sure your cell phone is off, on “do not disturb” or in another room so you can fully concentrate on your study materials.
Fuel Your Mind
You’ll be more alert and motivated if your stomach isn’t empty! Make sure you eat a good meal before you dive into the books or snack while you study so you can avoid tummy grumbles, headaches and a lack of focus that hunger may cause. Also, don’t forget to drink plenty of water so you stay hydrated and alert.
Keeping track of your time for study sessions and lesson completions will help you stay on top of your courses. You can use apps on your computer or phone—like iCalendar or Wunderlist—or pick up a planner that you can customize to include your to-do lists and coursework. Making lists every day will help you come up with a plan and stick with it!
In competency-based schools like VLACS, there aren’t necessarily hard deadlines you’ll need to follow. However, to help you keep track of your responsibilities, you can create your own deadlines and log them in your apps or planner.
Take Handwritten Notes
Just reading chapters in a textbook might not be enough to help you retain the knowledge you need to ace a test. Jotting down notes like important facts, statistics and key takeaways will help you retain the information you’ve just read even more.
There are tons of studies that explain the benefits of taking handwritten notes, including one from the Association for Psychological Science that shows handwritten notetaking can improve long-term comprehension.
Turn Your Notes into Flashcards
Creating flashcards helps you remember words or concepts from scratch. They are also a helpful practice for self-study, since they allow you to test yourself, meaning you don’t need to rely on someone else to quiz you.
Flashcards are also handy for helping you gauge your progress. If there are some cards that you breeze through easily, you’ll be able to set those aside and focus more on the cards you have a harder time with.
Split Up Your Work
Don’t overwhelm yourself! Separating your study materials into more manageable parts will make it easier for you to master the entire task. You should try to avoid focusing on one subject for an extended period of time. It can help if you alternate between course materials.
Don’t forget to take breaks every so often. Go for a walk, grab a snack or just enjoy the fresh air for a bit. This “mental downtime” will give your brain a much-needed break after all of that studying.
Set aside time—whether daily or weekly—to review your notes. The routine check-in of course topics while they are still fresh in your mind act like a mini study session that will help you when it comes time to take a test or turn in an assignment.
During your review, you’ll also be able to identify areas where you may need additional help. It’s important that you’re proactive about contacting your teacher in this instance. They’ll be able to provide additional resources and guidance to help you master the topic.
Testing yourself to see how well you know the material will help you find your weak spots so you can strengthen those areas sooner. You can do this by asking your teacher for practice tests, or creating your own! Some textbooks will also include sample tests at the back of the book.
Identify How You Learn Best
Some students learn best by creating flash cards, other students have an easier time studying by re-writing their notes several times. When you find the best study technique that’s right for you, make sure you stick with it.
The setting and study strategies you choose are completely up to you! Just find somewhere that helps you get in the right flow to accomplish your study goals and you’ll be on the right track towards succeeding in your classes.
Remember: if there are materials that you’re not understanding, no matter how much you study, ask your instructor for additional help. They want you to succeed!