Study Skills: Improving Your Study Habits

Ways to study well.

Studying is something any student must do. Some do it more effectively than others, and some wish they could be more effective. Read on for some studying tips.

*Choose an environment that helps you concentrate. For some, this means complete silence and being alone. For others, it means music or even TV in the background, or maybe having others around to study with. Figure out what works best for you and keep yourself in that type of environment as much as possible.

*Study when you're really awake. If you study when you're sleepy, or worse, sleep-deprived, you won't learn as much. Sleep-deprived individuals miss important details and have much lower overall comprehension. That means an all-nighter before your finals will not only NOT help you learn more, it might also help you get a lower grade because you're too tired at test time!

*Take breaks when you study. One marathon session isn't going to help you remember; there's too much information. Take a break every half or so, whenever you are tired and losing focus. Get up, walk around, grab a snack, talk to some friends. Then, with a clear head, go back to your studying.

*Make notes for yourself. When you see something in the book you're likely to forget, write about it. Write down the idea, or term and definition. Go back later on and check it, see if you remember. If you don't, highlight it and keep checking it. Keep a list of all the terms you're having trouble with for handy reference.

*Relate concepts. If you have a tricky concept, write it down and think about it. Then, write a paragraph about it, relating it to the other concepts in the section. This will help you to really think about it, instead of just reading what's presented in the book, as well as to understand how it works with the rest of the section.



*Study early. When you have a major test coming up, start studying at least a week in advance. Break your studying into small parts, saving the night before the test for a quick review of everything.

*Highlight very little. Only highlight major words or concepts. The vast majority of the text should be un-highlighted, so that the highlighted portions really stick out to you. You can even color-code: use yellow for major terms, and orange for major ideas. Some research suggests that choosing a particular color can help you understand better. Some people learn better if they see text with an orange background, or a blue background, as opposed to a white one. If this is the case, choose this color highlighter to help you with the difficult stuff!

*Study later in the day. Especially if you're a college student who's practically nocturnal, studying later in the day can help you out (but not so late you're too tired to focus). Studies show you tend to remember things better if you study them right before bedtime, and then dream about them. Capitalize on this by studying only a few hours before bedtime, and reviewing your notes just minutes before you hit the sack.

*Keep your stuff organized. Know where your books, notes, pens, pencils, anything you'll need is at all times. When it's time to study, you don't want to have to hunt stuff up. It'll get you frazzled and destroy your concentration. If you're sure you know where stuff is, then you're fine!

*Don't overstudy. If you know the material inside out, stop. If you keep studying, you'll start to second-guess yourself and psych yourself out. Take a break and don't think about it for awhile. You'll quickly learn how much time you really need to study for any particular class; don't try to do more than you need.

*Study in an organized way. Don't jump from subject to subject randomly. Finish up one subject before you move onto the next, and keep what you're learning separate so that it doesn't get all jumbled in your mind. Moving from math (after a break) to language arts, rather than doing a little math, then checking your language arts notes, then doing more math, etc. is a good idea. Then, you don't feel so frazzled and uncertain as to what you're doing!

If you follow these tips, you will do better in no time!

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