Learning is a lifelong endeavor and one that we can all hopefully learn to enjoy. One way to boost learning is through effective study techniques and habits. Once you learn how to study effectively, learning will get significantly easier, both in the classroom and out.
There are several study habits that are pivotal to know in order to study effectively. These techniques could be the deciding factor as to whether you pass or fail or, more importantly, learn. These 6 techniques will help you learn how to study effectively.
1. Take Notes
In order to study, a person is required to understand what he or she is learning. A great way of understanding/learning is by making notes of the content you are reading or hearing.
Note-taking may include making linear notes, diagrams, charts, flash cards, etc. These are all crucial when it comes to retrieval practice, which trains you to recall the correct information in the long-term.
The key to taking notes when learning how to study effectively is limiting your notes to the most important and complex information, and making it all as simple as possible. Trying to write down everything you hear is a recipe for disaster, as you will simply become overwhelmed when looking back at what you’ve written for spaced practice.
An exceptional note-making style is using summaries. Summaries are a written record of all the important points in a short and concise version. They’re an excellent study technique for when an exam is fast approaching. However, if this doesn’t work for the subject matter, or if you’re more creative, try mapping instead.
Studying is meant to enable you to apply your learned knowledge to real life situations, so if you want to learn how to study effectively, focus on practice.
The best way to study is by practicing with realistic examples and questions. As one TED article points out, “Practice is the repetition of an action with the goal of improvement, and it helps us perform with more ease, speed, and confidence”.
For example, if you have a big interview coming up, how will you prepare for it? You’ll likely study types of questions typically asked in interviews. The most effective next step would be finding a friend to do a mock-interview with you. One article points out that “a mock interview helps you learn how to answer difficult questions, develop interview strategies, improve your communication skills, and reduce your stress before an actual job interview”.
Placing yourself in these kinds of practice testing situations will help you recreate the emotions you’ll likely feel in the actual situation, so you won’t be taken off guard when the time comes.
3. Improve Your Study Area
Often enough, we study in a place that we feel comfortable in, but this has both pros and cons. Make sure that the room you’re studying in is not too cold or too warm. A cold room will make you feel uneasy, whereas an overly warm room will make you feel lethargic and sleepy.
Ensure that it’s not in an area with a lot of traffic that will work to distract you. If there is a lot of distracting background noise, consider putting on some relaxing music to drown it out.
Furthermore, ensure that your study space is free of clutter. Research shows that clutter significantly increases chances of procrastination. Other studies have suggested that having excess clutter can increase stress and levels of cortisol. Therefore, if you really want a productive study hour, make sure your workspace is clean first.
4. Eliminate Distractions
You may need to decipher between a distraction and an interruption when learning how to study effectively. A distraction can come in the form of open social media pages or a crying child, whereas an interruption can be anything from a phone ringing to an unexpected visitor showing up.
While interruptions are nearly impossible to control, it is possible to eliminate the majority of distractions for certain periods of time. Choose a time when you’re alone or it’s quiet enough for you to study. It takes a lot of concentration to study properly, and there’s no guarantee that you can focus again once your train of thought is disturbed.
If you have to use your computer to study, close out of all social media pages. If you have small children, ask your partner to keep them occupied in the meantime. There is often a solution for the distractions that each of us have to deal with in life, so get creative with your study techniques.
5. Set Goals
In order to make progress with your study techniques when learning how to study effectively, it’s great if you set mini goals or objectives for yourself. Set out an allocated amount of work you want to complete for a day and make sure you do it.
Every time you accomplish a mini goal, reward yourself with some free time. This will assure that you’re properly motivated and certainly won’t suffer from a burn out from over-studying.
You can learn more about setting good goals here:
Deadlines can be hugely helpful in motivating us to get things done. One study suggests that “as we approach a deadline, or get near to completing a task, this has the effect of reducing ‘opportunity costs’ – essentially, the lure of all the other things you could be doing instead”.
If you know you have a big exam coming up in a day or two, make a deadline for yourself as a study technique. For example, tell yourself: “I will read these three chapters before 10 pm tonight.” You can even set a reward for when you complete your goal on time.
You can read more on creating effective deadlines in this article.
6. Follow a Healthy Routine
When learning how to study effectively and utilize various learning techniques, a healthy routine is important to your success. Your body needs to brace itself for intense studying, which is why you should get at least eight hours of sleep, keeping in mind that the amount of time you sleep before midnight counts the most.
Have a proper diet, including not living off energy drinks or takeout. A proper diet consists of 3 to 5 meals a day with average portions. If you need energy, opt for whole grains instead of processed grains to ensure your body is able to slowly process the food, offering consistent energy for the study session ahead.
The greatest obstacle to face is having a balanced lifestyle, as studying is very time and energy consuming, which is why an overall healthy lifestyle is highly recommended.
Whether you’re using studying methods for a big interview, a final exam, or a certification, learning how to study effectively is crucial to your success. Follow the tips above to ensure that the time you spend studying is time used well.
More Tips on Studying Effectively
- How To Study Effectively: 7 Simple Tips
- How to Focus and Concentrate Better to Boost Productivity
- 8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More
Featured photo credit: Windows via unsplash.com
|||^||Oxford Learning: HOW TO TAKE STUDY NOTES: 5 EFFECTIVE NOTE TAKING METHODS|
|||^||Chloe Burroughs: How to Choose the Best Note Taking Method|
|||^||TED-ed Blog: 4 simple tips on how to practice effectively|
|||^||The Balance Careers: An Overview of Mock Interviews|
|||^||Herzing University: 6 Tips to Create the Perfect Study Environment|
|||^||Current Psychology: Procrastinators and Clutter: An Ecological View of Living with Excessive “Stuff”|
|||^||BBC Worklife: How to make deadlines motivating, not stressful|