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How To Revamp Your Study Habits For Better Grades

How To Revamp Your Study Habits For Better Grades

    More and more people are going back to school to take courses to get further qualifications these days. These like-minded people want to improve themselves for better futures. These mature students, along with current students in college or university, may find it a real challenge to keep up with all the studying required to do well in their courses. Indeed, this is very much related to productivity issues of getting enough done.

    When I started in university many years ago, it was a bit of a culture shock. One of the most extreme differences on campus compared to high school was that the professors didn’t really seem to care whether I showed up for classes or not. In some classes, many students were even falling asleep.

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    I enjoyed this freedom of showing up for classes whenever I wanted. But the rude awakening soon came when I got my first set of grades. My marks sank to ‘C’ averages and I was even at risk of failing a course or two.

    Better study habits

    My study habits were poor and last minute cramming for tests or exams made university life quite stressful. Some things had to change as I faced the possibility of dropping out of university without a degree. If you are either a current or returning student, I’m sure that you don’t want to be in this type of situation either.

    Fortunately, I stumbled onto a study skills strategy that saved me. This method virtually eliminates the need to cram for exams. I started using this strategy to completely change my study habits and it made a huge difference for me.

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    This study strategy is ideal especially for courses that involve final exams that cover all material that was introduced during a semester or entire year. Here is what this strategy involves.

    1. For each of your courses, schedule a regular study session each week.
    2. Stick to this study session schedule faithfully like a job.
    3. During each study session, review everything that you have covered in your course so far from day one to present.
    4. Continue reviewing all content each week even if you don’t have an upcoming test or exam.

    Although there will be more material to cover each week for each course as you move along the semester, covering earlier material will become faster as you become more familiar with them each week. You might not have to increase that much time to each study session as the year goes by.

    The beauty of this study habits strategy is that by the time final exams roll around, you will be quite familiar with most of the course content because you have been reviewing it each week.

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    Using this strategy will allow you to go into your final exams with much more confidence than ever before. The only new material is the most recent since older content will be well absorbed into your head from all those weeks of regular study.

    No more cramming for exams

    This study strategy worked wonders for me as it took me from a ‘C’ average student to ‘B+/A-‘ average by graduation. This not only allowed me to finish my degree successfully, it got me into MBA school where I needed to have even better study habits in place.

    So there it is – my top study skills strategy that basically involves weekly review of everything that you’ve covered in your courses to date. So no more cramming for exams needed!

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    (Photo credit: Close-up photograph of a perfect grade via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on June 18, 2019

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    From Making Reminders to Building Habits

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to Make a Reminder Works for You

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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