Study sessions will be more productive if you allow yourself to take planned breaks. Consider a schedule of 50 minutes spent working followed by a 10-minute break. Your downtime provides a good chance to stand up and stretch your legs. You can also use this as an opportunity to check your phone or respond to emails. When your 10 minutes are up, however, it’s time to get back to work. At the end of a long study session, try to allow yourself a longer break — half an hour, perhaps — before you move on to other responsibilities.
The things that your teacher talks about in class are most likely topics that he or she feels are quite important to your studies. So, it’s a good idea to become a thorough note-taker. The following tips can help you become an efficient, effective note-taker:
Would you believe that exercise has the potential to grow your brain? Scientists have shown this to be true! In fact, exercise is most effective at generating new brain cells when it’s immediately followed by learning new information. There are short-term benefits to exercising before studying as well. Physical activity helps wake you up so you feel alert and ready when you sit down with your books.
If your notes are incomplete — for example, you wrote down dates with no additional information — take time after class to fill in the missing details. You may also want to swap notes with a classmate so you can catch things that you missed during the lecture.
Challenge yourself to see what you can remember. Quizzing yourself is like practicing for the test, and it’s one of the most effective methods of memory retention. If it’s hard to remember the information at first, don’t worry; the struggle makes it more likely that you’ll remember it in the end.
Let’s face it: There are some subjects that you like more than others. If you want to do things the smart way, save your least challenging tasks for the end of your studies. Get the hardest things done first. If you save the toughest tasks for last, you’ll have them hanging over your head for the whole study session. That can cost you unnecessary mental energy. Furthermore, if you end with your favorite assignments, it will give you a more positive feeling about your academic pursuits. You’ll be more likely to approach your next study session with a good attitude.
Studying doesn’t always have to be an individual activity. Benefits of a study group include:
Cramming the night before a big test usually involves trying to memorize information long enough to be able to regurgitate it the next morning. Although that might help you get a decent grade or your test, it won’t help you really learn the material. Within a day or two, you’ll have forgotten most of what you studied. You’ll have missed the goal of your classes: mastery of the subject matter. Instead, commit yourself to long-term learning by studying throughout the semester.
Of course, you may need to put in extra time before a big test, but you shouldn’t put this off until the night before. Instead, in the week leading up to the exam, block off a daily time segment for test preparation. Regular studying will help you really learn the material.
One week out from a big test, study for an hour per night. If you have two big tests coming up, increase your daily study time, and divide it between the two subjects. The day before the exam, spend as much time as possible studying — all day, even.