Studying can get stressful. Forcing yourself to learn, understand and memorize large amounts of new information is not an easy task. Bad habits can make studying much more difficult and frustrating as you waste countless late hours cramming for a test. You can spend less time studying and work more effectively by adopting good study habits.
Avoid cramming. Cramming refers to an intense study session the night before an exam where you try to absorb as much information as possible. Cramming can negatively affect your recall ability as the brain has a difficult time retaining any information gathered during a cram session as early as the next morning. Instead of cramming, space out your study sessions over the course of a semester.
Eliminate distractions in the environment. The more your brain has to focus on while studying, the less it cano concentrate on understanding and retaining information. Turn off unneeded electronic devices, such as TVs, computers and music. While low-key, quiet music can act as a type of white noise to help drown out other distracting sounds, loud or complex music can hinder your study process.
Take breaks. Your brain needs time to rest and digest the information it has received. Every 45 minutes or so, take a 15-minute break. Get up and move around, get some water or take a short walk. Avoid any complex or distracting tasks, such as watching TV. Studying in a 45-minute block with a 15-minute break can benefit you more than studying for hours on end.
Highlight important facts and passages to actively absorb the information being studied. Reading can become a passive exercise, and the brain may start glossing over the information. Use a highlighter to mark sections of vital information that you must retain. Not only will this enable you to go back over important facts and read them again, but those facts are now easy to find when you read the material in the future.
Take notes on flash cards. Writing information down is an even stronger way of absorbing and retaining information than highlighting. Use a stack of 3 by 5-inch flash cards and write down quick blurbs of information. The act of writing notes strengthens your brain's ability to retain the information, and you can use the cards later as a study guide. Repeat the words out loud to further stress the importance of the information.
Get plenty of sleep after studying. Sleep helps your mind absorb new information and form long-term memories. Getting a full night’s sleep after a study session is far more effective in helping you learn and retain new information than sacrificing sleep for more study time.
- ['Highlighter', 'Flash Cards']
- Science Daily; Why Sleep Is Needed to Form Memories; February 2009
- University of Buffalo; How to Study; William J. Rapaport
- Layman's Guide to Psychology; The Psychology of Learning: Craming and Why It Doesn’t Work!; October 2009
- CNN Health: Music May Harm Your Studying, Study Says
- Missouri Western State University; The Effects of Highlighting on Long-Term Memory; Rachel J. Bailey
- Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images