After spending hours doing nothing else, school work is probably the last thing that you want to think about, but if you want to be as successful as you can, your work won't end with last period. You'll need to make time for homework for sure, and when that's said and done, there's usually a quiz or test to study for.
It's easy to put off studying and just do your homework (or not do your homework). However, if you create a study system that works for you, you just might find that it's not as time-consuming as you might have thought, and your grades might become achievements rather than just numbers or letters on a paper.
Here are ten tips to get you started on your studying path:
1. Focus on one task at a time
If you’re worrying about your math homework while studying for a science test, you’re never going to be able to fully concentrate on science. Try putting away all of your school work that you’re not working on in the moment.
You should also try to do your work or study without trying to multitask by listening to music, watching TV, etc. Studies have shown that multitasking, as we imagine it, is actually impossible. Instead of being able to focus on multiple things at once as you might believe, we are actually only able to quickly switch back and forth between multiple tasks, thereby drastically decreasing the amount of time you focus on each task.
2. Create a schedule
Set aside specific times to study and do homework. For harder classes or classes that require more work, set aside more time. When you create your study and homework schedule, though, make sure that you also include plenty of time to relax or else you’ll burn out and start putting aside school responsibilities, social experiences, or both.
3. Find a routine place to study
When you’re studying in the same place consistently, your ability to concentrate will improve, as there will be nothing new or novel about the space to distract you. Memorization of information is likely to be better as well. I’ve found that when trying to remember a certain phrase that a teacher uses, I can remember it better when I also remember how she said it or what she was doing at the time. In the same way, if you’re trying to memorize a vocabulary word while looking at, or doing, something in particular, you might be able to remember that moment during your test. The more specifically you can remember that moment, the more you’ll remember the vocab word.
4. Reward yourself
If you accomplish a difficult task or finish studying a section of information that was particularly time-consuming, give yourself a break and do something that you enjoy or may have put off to do your work. This way, you’ll be more likely to put just as much effort into studying next time knowing that there can be a payoff (other than good grades).
5. Study slow and steady
There’s no doubt that cramming for a test can work in a pinch, but it’s unlikely that you’ll retain any of that information beyond the time of the test, and you probably won’t remember everything that you need to for the test anyway. Instead of cramming, try studying a little bit at a time. Break notes or readings down into sections or chapters and go over one section a few times before moving onto the next. When you feel like you’re reading and not comprehending, or you’re thinking about other things, stop. Take a break and try again in a few minutes when you’re able to focus again.
6. Study alone
It’s tempting to study with friends, and you might think that your friends will help motivate you to concentrate. This might be true for some, but, often times, your friends will just provide another distraction regardless of whether they’re making any sound. It’s difficult to stay focused when you have proof that you could be doing something else sitting right in front of you.
7. Narrow your focus
If you try to remember every tiny detail that you’ve written down or that you see in a textbook, you’ll never remember what you’ll actually need to know. Try to identify the crucial information so that you don’t spend time studying for a test you aren’t taking. This might be the larger concepts of a chapter, usually found in the form of subheadings of a textbook, and the pertinent information related to them. It could even be vocab words or just topics that the teacher went over in class. Ask your teacher to make a study guide or give you some information about what type of information might be on the test. If you don’t have any luck there, start asking your classmates what they think is the most important information.
8. Test yourself
Once you finish reading over your study materials, make sure that you remember what you’ve read. Try testing yourself, looking at concepts or questions to study and trying to remember their answers without looking. You should do this multiple times for each section or chapter that you’ve broken your notes, book, or other materials into.
9. Study frequently
If you have weekly or biweekly quizzes for a class, it’s a must to study consistently, but if you only have one or two big tests all year for a class, it’s even more imperative that you don’t wait until the last minute to get ready. If you do, all of the material from the entire year or semester will be waiting for you to try to tackle, and you probably won’t be able to hack it. To avoid facing a wall of information that you can’t possibly learn in a day, or even a week, make sure that you study every few days to get a refresher on older topics.
10. Skip grammatical correctness
When you’re writing your notes to study later, don’t worry about transcribing information word for word or getting every bit of punctuation where it should be. Paraphrasing, or writing notes in your own words, will help you retain information better than if you’re studying textbook definitions and answers, and using short-hand will work even better. Think of your notes as bullet points rather than sentences, and you’ll be much better off when it comes time to memorize.
What techniques do you use to stay focused while studying?