8 ways to study smarter

Want to overcome exam stress and maximize academic performance? There’s no sure formula that works for everyone, but there are some basic principles you can adapt to fit your classes, schedule and learning style.

  1. Schedule your study sessions. It’s easier to motivate yourself to study if you already have it on your schedule for a specific time.
  2. Take breaks. Giving your brain a rest every 30 minutes to 1 hour is better for learning than studying for hours with no breaks. Try setting a timer to study for 30 minutes, then take a 5-minute break and repeat.
  3. Make flash cards. Flashcards are often more effective study aids than highlighting, underlining, rereading or using mnemonic devices. Flashcards incorporate multiple learning styles, including visual, verbal and motor. Make sure to use your flashcards for review after making them!
  4. Set a specific study goal. Feeling overwhelmed? Set a specific goal before you start studying. For example, instead of saying “I’m going to study for biology lab tonight,” commit to reviewing your lab reports and quizzes or doing practice tests.
  5. Create practice tests. Creating practice tests is a great way to thoroughly learn concepts. This strategy also helps memory recall, which can reduce test anxiety.
  6. Practice by teaching others. Explaining material you just learned to others can improve your understanding the material. Just be sure to avoid getting off topic when studying in groups.
  7. Find a quiet study space. Try studying in an environment similar to the classroom where you’ll be taking your test.
  8. Remove distractions. Yes, that means turning off your phone and closing your internet browser. Removing distractions can significantly boost your focus. Listening to music can be distracting, and some studies suggest it may be less effective than studying in silence. If music helps you relax, try listening to it before and after your study session.

Everyone learns differently, so try out a few of these tips and see what works best for you. If you want to learn more about study skills, consider signing up for an educational workshop.