Knowing how to study is just as important as knowing what to study. The trick is to learn how to study “smarter,” not “harder.” Follow these Top Ten Tips to learn how to improve study skills.
1. Develop a study environment that works for you. Select a quiet area to dedicate to serious study. Learn to associate this place with uninterrupted study and success. Don’t float around from place to place during study time.
2. Avoid distractions in your study environment. Keep your cell phone off and remove anyone or anything that will compete for your concentration. Get help from others to support the sanctity of your study time.
3. Unlearn poor study skills. For example, studying with the television or music as background may be something that you have grown accustomed to; however, sound competes with concentration.
4. Study on an uncluttered desk or table with good lighting and a fixed, ergonomically correct, straight-back chair. The study environment should be business-like, not overly comfortable.
5. Have study materials on or next to your study area so that you don’t have to interrupt study time to locate these items. Keep sharpened pencils, pens, paper, CD-Rs, and books convenient to your study area.
6. Develop a study order before you begin a study session. Study your hardest subject first when you are fresh. Concentrate your best time on this subject. Do simple or easy study or work at the end of your study time, when less concentration is needed.
7. Plan when to take study breaks before you begin. Study breaks should be short (5 minutes), regular (every 30 minutes), and away from your study area. Do something different than your study activity. Make sure to stretch during study breaks. Make sure to get up and move around.
8. Establish simple rewards in advance to enjoy during a study break. For example, if a snack is calling your name, delay gratification until a planned study break.
9. Use metacognitive cues as you study. Establish an interactive dialog with your study materials. Ask questions; make comments and predictions of written text. Key into what is important to remember. Be an active, rather than a passive, learner.
10. Write down main ideas, key concepts, possible test questions, questions to ask as you study. Compose a quick reflective summary of your study session in a study journal. What was most important to remember from the study session and why?