How can you improve your study skills? Do you want to learn to focus better, or learn how to reduce exam stress? Try out these ten tips on how to study more effectively and successfully.
1. Plan ahead
Before you even get started with your studies, it’s a good idea to make a plan in order to avoid getting stressed and running out of time. By making a plan, you can better organise your time and work in a more strategic and efficient way.
2. Study space
A clean and tidy place to study will improve your concentration. Put away any distractions and make sure your study space is well lit. Have a glass or a bottle of water next to you and make sure you drink enough to stay hydrated.
3. Learning methods
There are many different learning methods which can help you remember content effectively. These include writing notes, creating mind-maps, visualising, reviewing with flashcards and many more. You must remember that everyone learns in different ways so you should do some research and try some of these methods to find out which suits you the best. Read our blogs on the Pomodoro Technique
and the SQ3R Method
to get an idea of some different learning methods which could help you learn how to study more effectively.
4. An overview
Before you start studying, you should collect all of the information you have on a given topic and make an overview. You can divide the information into smaller sections so you aren’t overwhelmed. Then, you can tick off sections as you complete them. Think about your presentation and make sure to use colours as this is more eye-catching and it will help to motivate you.
5. Relaxation and balance
To make sure you don’t get stressed and to stay focused, you should take both short and long breaks while studying. Nobody can spend all of their time studying or working. Rest and rejuvenation is important when studying because you need enough brain power to be able to retain the material. Make sure that you plan small breaks of 5 to 10 minutes to get some fresh air and move your body. Don't forget to also take long breaks from studying - maybe an hour or even a whole day. Try to do something healthy or productive in your longer breaks - eat a nutritious meal, exercise, hang out with friends or just generally enjoy your free time.
In addition to breaks, sleep is vital to ensure that your revision is effective. While you sleep, your brain processes everything you have experienced during the day; it makes connections and consolidates what you have learnt. Also, after a good night's sleep, you are rested, fit and ready to learn more.
7. Background music or silence?
Some people need absolute silence when studying, while others can concentrate well in a coffee shop or a place with background noise. Others believe they can focus better when studying and listening to music. However, the music you listen to needs to be at the right tempo; it should not be too fast or too slow. Classical music, lo-fi and specific music made for concentration is best suited to studying. The important thing is that the music doesn't distract you.
Try to break up your studying by using different methods to remember things. For example, don’t just learn vocabulary with flashcards. Use post-it notes to label various items around your house (if you are studying a language) or make a short list of the most difficult words to hang on your bathroom mirror so you can read them while brushing your teeth.
9. Mnemonic devices
Mnemonic devices can be real lifesavers when you need to memorise complicated information quickly. Mnemonic devices can be initialisms, acronyms, songs, rhymes or anything which helps you to remember something. You can find some mnemonics on the internet, but not on every topic. It’s best to be creative and come up with your own mnemonic because the ones you invent yourself are the most memorable. For example:
Richard of York gave battle in vain - To remember the order and colours of the rainbow (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet)
FANBOYS - To remember the seven coordinating conjunctions (For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, So)
10. Repetition and consolidation
Repetition is a key part of studying. After reading something once, it’s impossible for you to take in all of the information and for you to retain it all. You should always revisit topics on different days. You should also try to be an active learner and not just read something, but say it out loud, allow yourself to be quizzed, or try explaining it to your parents or friends to see if you’ve really understood it.