If you dread studying and consistently feel unprepared, you’re not alone. Effective study habits aren’t intuitive for everyone, but good study habits can be learned and developed. Start with these three practices and see how your study habits can change for the better.
Change Your Mindset
Your mindset is a powerful force and how you view studying can have a major impact on your studying habits.
Get into the habit of giving yourself positive affirmations when you study like reminding yourself of how skilled you are on a particular topic. Avoid catastrophic thinking and convincing yourself ahead of time that you’re going to do poorly on a test. You’re more likely to succeed if you think positively and enjoy yourself.
Create positive associations with studying so you’re more likely to continue doing it. Reward yourself when you have maintained your study schedule or reached a goal. Celebrate with a night out with friends, your favorite meal, going for a walk, or whatever else motivates you to stay clear and focused.
It’s also ok to avoid studying when you aren’t in the right mindset. There’s only so much you can force your mind to do and if you’re preoccupied with other things going on in your life then you’re not likely to retain much. Give yourself a break so you can optimize the time you do study when you are feeling good and focused.
Schedule Study Time
One of the best practices is to carve out a scheduled study time and stick to it. Imagine time blocks just like you have classes scheduled. By scheduling this particular time regularly, you can start studying weeks in advance and always rely on having that time available to you. You’ll learn more of the material and it will stick with you longer.
But for this to work, your study time must be uncompromising! Don’t cancel a study session because you’d rather be doing something else, even if you feel like there isn’t anything to study. Aim to get yourself in the habit of studying in 30 or 60-minute blocks each day. Ultimately, the amount you study matters less than the habit of studying regularly.
If it helps you maintain the schedule, try spending 15 minutes before each class reviewing material. It’s really up to you and whatever works for you. Schedule this time when you’re least likely to find a distraction or something else to do. If you study better at night, then plan your study time then or vice versa if you’re a morning person. You’ll surprise yourself at how prepared you are for a test without that 10-hour study marathon the day before.
If you have a hard time sticking to your schedule, try a study group where you have others to keep you accountable and a set time every day or week to crack open those books between classes.
Find Your Spot
Your environment has a big impact on how well you study, so it’s best to find a place early on that is conducive to focus and concentration. The best spot will vary from person-to-person, but it’s best to avoid any place that has distractions. Look for a quiet place where you can concentrate like a nearby coffee shop, the library, or a quiet hallway.
Wherever it is for you, once you find that spot, stick with it and study there regularly. It’s helpful to study in the same place every time because it creates a routine and trains your brain to focus when you’re in that location.
Yes, the “study struggle” is real but you can evaluate your study habits and incorporate these three strategies to make the best out of your study habits.