10 Tips To Help You Study

By Timothy Hayes on March 1, 2015

These last few weeks, I’ve been featuring different ways to study and do better scholastically. Here I hope to culminate this run in a short list of 10 tips to help you study harder, better, faster, stronger.

(photo credited to Khan Academy)

1. The internet is your friend. Students everywhere applaud the resources of Wikipedia or Google, but many don’t know how to use the internet to their full advantage. The web has dozens of sites like Khan Academy, where you can get tutoring and help for any of dozens of topics and fields.

If you need quick tutoring for a foreign language, check out LiveMocha for help from peers on your speaking. If you’d like more resources, check out my previous article here.

2. Write better notes, not lots of notes. While some applications demand more regardless of the quality, note taking is not one of those. Scientific studies throughout academia have shown that it is not the number of notes you take, but rather how you take them.

The best possible way to take notes is a question/answer format so that you engage the material with your mind. If you understand, you retain more of the material. If you’d like to read more about this, see my article on note taking.

3. Ditch the laptop. While the internet might help you get the tutoring you need when you’re struggling with a subject, the tech is ultimately not needed to do well in school. Your laptop is not an ideal tool to get your thoughts into notes or back into your head.

Studies show that notes taken on a laptop are not as efficient at encoding memories. On top of that, it doesn’t help when you’ve got the familiar ping of a Facebook notification every few minutes.

4. Try mind palaces and item association. “Sherlock” fans will be familiar with this but for those who aren’t, a mind palace is an imaginary place in your head where you can store your memories. It works as a mansion with infinite rooms and in each room is a memory.

Another cool trick to get your brain to remember something better is called Person-Action-Object method. So every time you think of the messenger RNA taking genetic information from the nucleus to an organelle in the cell, imagine Stephen Hawking running to a nuclear power station to deliver blueprints.

Does that make sense on its own? Not at all, but when encoded with memory, it helps to safeguard that idea. The more irrational or funny the better. For more information on retention and your brain, see my article here.

5. Play some games. If you study for extended periods of time, your brain will begin to lose its ability to concentrate.

(image courtesy of chacha.com)

Concentration varies between different people, but experts have agreed taking a break every 30 to 40 minutes can help you recover. So shut the books, turn on the console, and shoot some zombies. These games are actually proven to have positive effects on players, ranging from decreased depression to increased concentration. Check out my article here for more.

6. Listen to music. Turn up them Beats and get funky, cause we gotta get down to get them grades up. Kidding aside, researchers have shown that music before a significant task, and sometimes during, can be beneficial. Called the “Mozart Effect,” this concept has been observed in many age groups and the music does not need to be classical.

However, it’s not that simple. For more on that check out fellow Uloop writer Elana Goodwin’s article “Do or Don’t: Studying While Listening to Music.

7. Take notes in the book. If you’ve ever taken a literature class, you know the benefit of taking your notes right where the material’s located. By inserting your thoughts onto the paper, you are injecting your voice into the conversation of your learning.

Like I mentioned above, engaging with the material helps you to retain it. If you see something that makes you wonder, write a note, put a sticky on it, ask the professor in class, and write down their answer. These will serve you well when you go back to them. If you need more about notes and books, check out my article on it here.

8. Study in a group. You can’t know everything. Sorry to burst any bubbles, but really, you just can’t. Consequently, it helps to have a few more brains to pick up the information.

(image from becuo.com)

This is the primary reason you should study with friends. They can just give you anything you missed and you can do likewise. Swapping understanding of the material also helps you all further your understanding individually. My article detailing all of that is here.

9. Get things together. Paper notes are best according to the study I mentioned above, but messy. Find time to go over everything and get it in order. If you’ve got due dates get a calendar together to remind yourself of everything. Get your papers all set, square away your notes, go over everything, and you can stay on top of things.

10. Sit down and do it. Seriously. Stop scrolling through Tumblr. Turn off your phone. Tell your friend you need to study. If you don’t make time to regularly go over the material, you will drown in it. Most college professors agree that students are expected to learn an ever increasing amount of information in a very short span.

If you’re getting stuck on something from week three, by week seven you’re going to be totally lost. Set up a time and a calendar for more studying. That might mean Friday night. That might be your day off. You are a student. Study like one.

For more information on good study habits, check out our Uloop Director of News, Megan Weyrauch’s, article “Raise Your Grades This Semester with Some Tips from Cengage Learning.

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