5 Tips for Effective Studying

You have 100 pages of textbook to read, three essays, and two exams to study for. It’s going to take hours to finish everything! Make sure that you’re not burning yourself out and begin to improve your habits with these five study tips. 

  1. Spacing it Out

julias-blogTo put it directly, cramming doesn’t work. It’s especially hard to retain information if you’ve been up all night reviewing information for the first time. Our minds learn by repetition, so spacing out study sessions is most likely to bring you success.

In psychology, this is called the spacing effect. The spacing effect highlights the way in which our minds will recall the information of, let’s say, four different study sessions if the review is spread out over four days, instead of four times in a row on the same day right before an exam. The longer facts have to repeat in your mind, the more likely they are to appear in your long term memory. There, you can access them for the test, and maybe even much later in time!

  1. Color Coding

Color coding can help you remember terms and facts. When studying, write information on notecards or a piece of paper with a certain color pen, pencil or marker. Doing so will lead your mind to associate the color with the term. To practice this method, choose the amount of colors depending on the amount of terms or facts you need to memorize. You will need more colors for more information. When you study, your brain will connect a word or phrase with a color, let’s say blue. During the test, if you are trying to come up with the definition, just ask yourself: what was that blue phrase? You have a better chance of recalling the information this way.

  1. Time Management

You forgot about that one essay until the night before it was due. How could this have happened? It was even written down in your notebook. There was just so much homework to be done, how could you have kept track of it all? Make all night homework sessions a thing of the past by writing out a checklist of assignments that need to be completed and checking them off as you turn them in. All of your assignments are as clear as day on a list, so you can’t forget that next essay. Once you can see all that you have to do, you can plan your time accordingly. Those two hours before math class? Time to review or write that paper. Thirty minutes in between classes? Time to break open the textbook and begin reading. Once you check off a few assignments, you are able to see how much free time you actually have, and how much time you need to finish everything.

  1. Rewarding Yourself

Studying is a time consuming task. It takes several sessions to retain information, and homework can take hours to complete. If you have been studying diligently for many hours, reward yourself with a break. Eat your favorite snack or check your Facebook news feed. Don’t overwhelm yourself in work. It needs to be completed, but your mental health is important too. Just remember that your break is a break, not a point to be done for the day if you still have deadlines to meet.

  1. Notes and Summaries

When doing readings, it is important to make sure that you have learned something. Reading the book is of no help if you haven’t gotten anything from it. To avoid this situation, make a note of important terms, concepts or phrases after every couple of pages. This way, you have something to add to class discussions and do not have to wrack your brain for a little slice of information to contribute. Aside from notes, try writing down a summary after the reading. That way, you are able to recognize what is important and what the point to take away from it is. Summaries are also a good source to study from. Don’t have two hours to reread the textbook? Look through what you’ve written to find key points and phrases that may be present on the test.  


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