For many of us studying is on the top of our to-do lists but compared to other things it’s not always the most fun. So how can we study better and more efficiently, minimizing the time we spend hitting the books and more time doing the things we love? Below are a few studying hacks to help you make the most of your time.
Study sweet spot
Most students wonder how much time they should spend studying. The truth is (as annoying as it might be) that it depends on you and your needs. However, a basic rule is that you should try to study each subject at least twice per week – even if there is not an assignment due or an upcoming test. This helps you to study effectively, because effective studying happens over the course of time, not just the night before an exam.
So, how do you study?
Some people think studying means a quick skim through your class readings and reviewing their notes. Although this is useful, there are proven methods that can help you study more efficiently. Here are several methods that you can try out:
Retrieval practice involves learning something. Waiting a bit. Then trying to recall, or retrieve, the information again. Doing this trains your brain to be able to recall an answer without having to look through your textbook or notes. Great retrieval practices include using flashcards, practice tests, and making up your own questions and quizzing yourself. What’s cool about using this method (especially with flashcards) is that you can do this kind of studying in little bits – maybe on the bus to or from school, while you have some free time in class, or even during lunch.
Spaced practice can also help you be a better, more efficient student. How it works: For two days after you learn about a topic, briefly review the material. Then, after one week, revisit the material, and again after another week. You may even want to review the material again one month later. This type of studying will help keep the material fresh in your mind and ensure that you don’t forget about it even while new information is building on top of it. Plus, spaced practice is proven to help students retain more info long-term than a marathon cramming session right before an exam.
The first step in this method is to “survey” or glance through only the key information such as headings, pictures, or charts. The next step is to “question” the information you just glanced through. This means asking yourself what you think the chapter might be about. Then “read, recite, and review” the information. To do this, first, carefully read all the material. If you find yourself dazing off, go back and read it again. Next, recite. This is where you recall the main points that were presented throughout the section you read. You can do this by writing them down. Lastly, review. This is going back over the information that you recited. You can do this by going over notes you took during “reciting.”
Further Studying Help
Using time-tested study methods doesn’t only benefit you and your learning, but it also cuts down on the time you spend hitting the books. However, these methods may work for some, but they won’t work for everyone. Below are some links to help you find additional study methods.
At the end of the day if you are still struggling, try talking with a teacher or school counselor. Some of us struggle with figuring out how we learn best. That’s ok. Trial and error is part of the process, and there are people who can help.
For more info on this topic, check out these resources:
- University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences – 10 Effective Study Techniques to Try This Year
- University of Florida – How To Study
- American Psychological Association – Study Smart
Author: Summer Wildbill is a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla based in Pendleton, OR. She is a rising high school senior who dreams of being a journalist.