Updated: Apr 29, 2022
by Haley Buchan
1. Start Early
One habit that ALL successful students have in common is that they avoid the procrastination trap. By starting studying early, you can break your studying up into smaller chunks to make it less daunting.
Studies also show that our brains are better able to absorb information when we break it up and make it more digestible. Not only is cramming stressful, but it’s also just not effective! Our brains can’t retain all the information we try to squeeze in at the last minute. Having shorter and more regular study sessions has been shown to lead to academic success.
2. Create a Distraction-Free Zone
Some distractions (like cell phones and the TV) are obvious, but everyone has something different that distracts them when they’re trying to study. Try to identify what helps you get in the “zone” and what draws your attention away from the task at hand. For example, some students study better with quiet background music whereas others lose their train of thought when they have music playing. Let’s face it: studying isn’t necessarily the most fun thing to do, so the less distracted you are the better as you can study more effectively in a shorter period of time!
3. Plan Your Study Session Before You Start
It’s important to have a game plan going into a study session in order to be as productive as possible. Setting specific goals for each study session sets you up for success. Maybe your goal is to do a certain number of review problems or to memorize a list of vocabulary words. Regardless of what your goals are, set them at the start of your session and be sure to stick to them!
4. Take Time to Make Effective Study Tools
Depending on your studying style, you will find different study tools to be more effective. Maybe you prefer making study guides with different colored pens for different subheadings or maybe you prefer flashcards or Quizlet. Take time to try out all the different tools and notetaking skills available to you so that you can identify what works best for you. Remember, this might also vary based on the subject you’re studying. For example, I prefer flashcards for language classes and color-coded notes for history.
5. Review, Review, Review
The advantage of starting studying early is that you should have plenty of time to review before the test! Take time to go through your class notes and study tools every day, even just for a minute. Studies show that this consistent review is MUCH more effective than cramming right before the exam!
Haley Buchan is an economics and math major and French minor at Georgetown University.