How to Study Smarter to Get Better Grades in School or College

When studying with another, be sure you have similar study goals.
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After spending time studying for tests, many students are puzzled when they do not get better grades. Perhaps it's not the amount of time spent studying, but rather how they study. Getting better grades involves dedicating time and space for studying, discovering how you learn best and studying for understanding. In other words, to get better grades, don’t just study -- study smarter.

1 Schedule Time

Schedule time for studying so you don’t find yourself cramming the night before a test. Cramming may get you through the test, but consistent studying throughout a course helps you learn the material for the long run. Choose a regular time for study every day of the week to make studying a habit and a priority. If time allows, review your class notes before each class period and schedule weekly reviews. Most students have other commitments outside of school and studying. Creating a schedule of these commitments -- family, extracurricular and social -- helps you choose a dedicated time for study to help you stay on top of your assignments.

2 Choose a Location

Where you choose to study can impact the effectiveness of your study time. Choose a quiet, well-lit location that is comfortable -- but not too comfortable. If sitting at a desk isn't your style, find a comfortable chair, but avoid the temptation to study in your bed where you're likely to succumb to sleep. To optimize your study time, choose a spot free from the distractions of noisy siblings or roommates, TV or loud music. Turn off or mute your phone so you won't be tempted to check or respond to messages. Some find it helpful to keep a pad of paper handy to jot down distracting thoughts to deal with at a later time. Take breaks while studying to help keep your mind on track, particularly when trying to understand difficult material.

3 Learning Styles

Not all students learn the same way. To make the most of your study time it is beneficial to know your personal learning style. For some students, taking notes, writing and rewriting important information is helpful. For others, taping lectures and listening to the presentations again works. Some need to be seated at a desk while others prefer to stand up and move around. Some learn by doing and may need to make a visual representation of difficult material. As you study, you will soon discover what works for you. Whatever study method you choose, the end goal is understanding the material, not merely memorizing facts.

4 Reading For Meaning

Though study methods vary in effectiveness, the SQ3R method helps you study smarter with five techniques that encourage reading for understanding: Survey -- Before reading, survey the chapter. Read the title, chapter summary, headings, graphics, pictures, captions and boldfaced or italicized words that you can look up in the glossary. Question -- Read any chapter questions so you'll know what you need to learn, and develop questions of your own before and during reading. Read -- Take a section at a time and look for answers to your questions as you go. Recite -- After reading, say out loud what the section is about and what you learned. Answer your questions, and if you're unable to restate what the chapter is about, read it again. Review -- Review what you learned by answering any chapter questions or questions your teacher provided.

Michele Norfleet is a freelance writer who writes on travel, home and garden and education topics. She has coauthored a handbook for teachers on school-wide discipline and has contributed tips for special-needs students in the basal curriculum for RCL Benziger. Norfleet holds a master's degree from Southern Illinois University and has experience as a special-needs teacher and speech pathologist.