5 Tips to Study Smarter

Carolina Jacobs

Mar 1, 2023

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According to the American Psychological Association (APA), research shows that rereading texts or spending hours concentrating on one subject are not effective studying strategies. And you probably already know that last-minute cramming is something to avoid completely, as it doesn’t help you engage with the material enough to actually learn it. Whether studying for your state tests, bachelor’s degree or MBA, we’ve got you covered. In this post, you’ll learn five helpful tips to study smarter so you can get the most out of your studying sessions.

1. Eliminate All Distractions

Reducing or completely eliminating distractions is a good first step to take when starting your study session. You want to study in a quiet, distraction-free environment, as this helps you focus better. 

One of the biggest distractions that gets in the way of studying effectively is your smartphone. Thankfully, new smartphones have settings to pause notifications and enter a Focus mode, where only emergency calls or messages come through. Consider setting up a Study Focus mode on your phone to ensure app notifications and texts from friends and family don’t distract you while you study. 

2. Annotate Everything

As mentioned above, reading and rereading class notes, books or online materials is not an effective way to study. While you may absorb some information by doing this, it may not help improve your long term memory. Instead, try annotating as a new way of studying. 

Annotating involves taking detailed notes about your readings, including your first impressions, thoughts that come to mind or other important information. When you annotate, you’re able to better engage with and understand the material you’re studying compared to reading it. Like studying, annotating takes time and practice, so go easy on yourself if you’re just beginning to annotate your materials.

3. Create and Take Practice Tests

What better way to find out what you know and don’t know by creating your own practice test? Taking a practice test helps you gauge where you’re at with your learning so you can fill in the gaps. You can build your own practice test or quiz yourself, or you can look online to see if any resources offer practice tests, like Quizlet. 

If you come across any challenging topics or questions, be sure to include them in your test. You can take and retake your test to measure how well you’re studying to learn the material.

4. Use the Pomodoro Method

One of the best time management methods students and professionals can use to make better use of their time is the Pomodoro Technique. Here is how the method works:

  • Decide which topics you want to study for and for how long.
  • Set a timer for 25 minutes. Eliminate distractions and commit to studying for the full 25 minutes.
  • After 25 minutes is up, take a short, 5-minute break. Consider standing up and stretching, going for a quick walk or even do a short meditation.
  • Repeat the process four times, and then take a 25-30 minute break after four “Pomodoros.”

There are many tools online to help you use the Pomodoro Technique. For example, Google Chrome has a Pomodoro extension that can run the timers for you so you can focus on getting all of your materials ready for a deep study session.

5. Space Out Study Sessions

Finally, a helpful tip to study smarter is to space out your study sessions. Spaced practice, sometimes called distributed practice, is known to improve your long term memory of certain subjects, according to UC San Diego’s Department of Psychology. Try to schedule a few study sessions spaced out throughout the two to three weeks leading up to an exam or quiz. 

When you space out your study sessions, you’ll be able to learn the information better and retain it for a longer period of time. This will help you perform well on exams and get good grades.

Study Smart, Not Harder With These Helpful Tips

One of the most important elements of reaching academic success in middle school, high school, college and beyond is studying. However, many students find that studying is not just something they have to do to learn class material, but it’s a skill they need to develop over time. Consider following these tips to improve your study habits and perform well in school.

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