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10 Tips for Better Study Habits This Semester


Starbucks coffee and a laptop
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Midterm season is here already, and whether you have one or five tests looming over your head, it’s time to hit the books and get prepped. You may think you perfected your study habits in eighth grade, but unless you’re pulling off 99’s every time, everyone could use a little brushing up on their study habits.

Here are the 10 best study tips I’ve picked up over four years of cramming in college:

1. Get Organized

Thick encyclopedias with colorful hardcovers
[Photo Credit]

This may just be the super-organized Capricorn in me, but having a study plan before I even lift the cover of a book is often my first step to successful studying.

To start with your study plan, gather all the information you have: when the exam is, how long it will be, what resources you can bring with you, and of course, what material will be covered. Set yourself a timetable for when you can study, and break up the material you need to review into manageable chunks you can tackle at once. Save time in the last day or two before your exam to go over everything together and make sure there’s nothing you missed.

Having a plan makes it easier to start each study session, and allows you to plan when to end it, so you’re not pouring yourself over your notebook for 12 hours at a time. Creating a study plan is the best way to ensure that everything you need to review gets covered, and keeps you from feeling overwhelmed during the process.

2. Get Together

I study best alone, as I think most of us do. Spending time studying alone is pretty much essential to making sure you go over everything you need to cover, and feeling comfortable with the material in your own way. That said, I highly recommend booking in even just an hour or two of study time for a group session.

Book with highlighting
[Photo Credit]

Getting together with two or three classmates helps you study in a whole different way. You can use this time to brush up on concepts you didn’t quite understand, that other classmates might have down pat. Plus, explaining something you understand to another student is a great way to organize your thoughts and will help you articulate them during the exam.

The bonus is the social aspect of a study group, which makes it feel at least a little less tedious than your solo sessions. One caveat: don’t take everything your classmates say for certain – if what they say counters what your notes or textbook says, just brush it off and go with your gut.

3. Get Creative

There are a million different techniques for studying. Some will work for you, others won’t, but you’ll never know until you try them out.

Midterms are the perfect time to experiment with different study techniques that you can use for the rest of the year. Just because you’ve always used one method doesn’t mean another method won’t add to your study experience. Talk to other students to see what they do, talk to your profs to see if there’s a technique that’s especially useful for the material.

Whether it’s flashcards, re-writing notes, reading outloud, or making a game out of the information, spend a bit of time trying something new. It may turn out to be the one way to finally memorize that last bit of data that saves your butt on the test.

Want More?

Here are seven more tips to ensure a successful study session this midterm season:

  • Talk to your professors about what’s required for the exam. This is the time when having a good rapport with profs really comes in handy, as they’ll be more likely to guide you in the right direction.
  • Start early. Sure, you may have passed an exam before after staying up all night cramming the night before, but the stress and toll it takes on your mind isn’t worth it. Give yourself plenty of time, at least two or three days, up to two weeks, to make sure you have time to cover everything.
  • Take a break once in awhile. Even just an hour here or there to veg out in front of the TV or go for a long-overdue jog will help you stay sharp and focused when you return to the material, and gives your mind a break to absorb all the information.
  • Break the silence with a little soft music. As long as you don’t find it distracting, music can actually help encourage your brain to stay alert. I like classical, myself, but anything that doesn’t distract you should do the trick.
  • Think outside the textbook and go to your library for extra resources. Sometimes another book can explain a concept in a way that works for you and can make the difference between understanding and memorizing.
  • Stay nourished by eating snacks and drinking lots of water. It’s important for your brain as well as your body, and helps you to stay focused and productive.
  • Don’t panic. If you take every precaution and do your best, it’ll be very difficult to fail. Before the test, take a deep breath and know that you’ve done everything you can to prepare, and you’ll set yourself up for success.

What Do You Think?

What are your best study tips? What’s your favorite weird/creative study technique? Leave a comment and let us know, and good luck on all your midterm exams!

Posted on on October 10, 2010 / Filed Under: College Life / Tags: , , , ,

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13 Responses to “10 Tips for Better Study Habits This Semester”

  1. 1
    October 10th, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    This definitely came perfectly in time because I have a huge project due somewhat time next week; I haven’t started and I usually would procrastinate until the DAY BEFORE but now I’m going to go work on it instead of surfing the net.


  2. 2
    October 10th, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    Really great, informed post. I love that this was written a few days before my midterm too! Thanks!

  3. 3
    October 10th, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    ahhh midterms! Great tips though, hopefully I will remember to use these :) Great post!

  4. 4
    October 10th, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    I definitely agree with all these. I just had a huge Psych exam last week and the way I normally study is really similar to all these tips..I managed to pull out an A, so it was definitely worth it. I think the most important ones are to start studying early (2 weeks before the exam) and keeping yourself organized. Getting together to study really helps me too, though only for an hour or two.

  5. 5
    October 10th, 2010 at 8:43 pm

    I agree with all these, especially the point about studying alone. If I study with my friends we end up gossiping for an hour and get nothing accomplished.

  6. 6
    October 11th, 2010 at 2:01 am

    I really recommend studying out loud. You might sound like a crazy person, but this technique is effective and helps you grasp concepts much more clearly. Especially when you “teach” it to yourself as if you were teaching someone else out load you will make connections you probably wouldn’t have before.
    Great post!

  7. 7
    October 11th, 2010 at 9:58 am

    Asking professors about what will be on the exam can be a pretty touchy issue. I’ve seen a lot of professors shoot down or at the very least get pretty annoyed when it is asked during class. However, most are in a more forgiving mood if you talk with them about the material during office hours.

    Your first tip has been the most effective one for me. Being organized makes studying a much less frenzied task.

  8. 8
    October 11th, 2010 at 10:54 am

    Thank you sooooooooo much!!!!!
    I love how whenever I drop by CF, I will find an article that totally relates to me at that point of time! It’s girls are always looking over me with all these fantastic articles to help get me through the period!

  9. 9
    November 14th, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    Really good tips but I would also add a really important one: SLEEP. It kind of goes along with starting early. Don’t leave everything til the last night and pull an all nighter, you are just setting yourself up for failure. Sleep is sooo important to help you think clearly!

  10. 10
    September 26th, 2014 at 8:28 pm

    All the stuff above that is listed is so very true. I my self need to do it more often my self.

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