“Oh, I’ll get to it soon” isn’t a valid study strategy. Rather, you have to be intentional about planning set study sessions. On your calendar, mark out chunks of time that you can devote to your studies. You should aim to schedule some study time each day, but other commitments may necessitate that some sessions are longer than others. Harder classes require more study time. So, too, do classes that are worth several credits. For each credit hour that you’re taking, consider devoting one to three hours to studying each week.
Do you digest content quickly, or do you need time to let the material sink in? Only you know what pace is best for you.
There’s no right (or wrong) study pace. So, don’t try matching someone else’s speed.
Instead, through trial and error, find what works for you. Just remember that slower studying will require that you devote more time to your schoolwork.
Exhaustion helps no one perform their best. Your body needs rest; getting enough sleep is crucial for memory function. This is one reason that scheduling study time is so important: It reduces the temptation to stay up all night cramming for a big test. Instead, you should aim for seven or more hours of sleep the night before an exam. Limit pre-studying naps to 15 or 20 minutes at a time. Upon waking, do a few stretches or light exercises to prepare your body and brain for work.
Interruptions from your phone are notorious for breaking your concentration. If you pull away to check a notification, you’ll have to refocus your brain before diving back into your studies. Consider turning off your phone’s sounds or putting your device into do not disturb mode before you start. You can also download apps to temporarily block your access to social media. If you’re still tempted to check your device, simply power it off until you’re finished studying.
Research shows that stress makes it harder to learn and to retain information. Stress-busting ideas include:
There’s a delicate balance when it comes to the best study spot: You need a place that’s comfortable without being so relaxing that you end up falling asleep. For some people, that means working at a desk. Others do better on the couch or at the kitchen table. Your bed, on the other hand, may be too comfy. Surrounding yourself with peace and quiet helps you focus. If your kids are being loud or there’s construction going on outside your window, you might need to relocate to an upstairs bedroom, a quiet cafe or your local library.
Noise-canceling headphones can also help limit distractions. It’s better to listen to quiet music than loud tunes. Some people do best with instrumental music playing in the background. Songs with lyrics may pull your attention away from your textbooks. However, some folks can handle listening to songs with words, so you may want to experiment and see what works for you. Just remember that there’s no pressure to listen to any music. If you do your best work in silence, then feel free to turn your music player off.
If song lyrics are distracting, just imagine what an attention sucker the television can be! Serious studying requires that you turn off the TV. The same goes for listening to radio deejays. Hearing voices in the background takes your brainpower off of your studies.
Turning off the television, talk radio and your favorite pop song doesn’t mean that you have to study in total silence. Soft background sounds are a great alternative. Some people enjoy listening to nature sounds, such as ocean waves or cracks of thunder. Others prefer the whir of a fan.
A growling stomach can pull your mind from your studies, so feel free to snack as you work. Keep your snacks within arm’s reach, so you don’t have to leave your books to find food. Fuel your next study session with some of the following items: