Students often find themselves studying days and days on end, revising for assessments, preparing for exams, etc. And while this is all good – go get the grades you deserve – all of this effort is wasted with bad study habits.
While studying is good, it’s also really important to study smart too.
Many students adopt the common mentality to cram. Cramming the day before an exam is bad enough, but when you don’t stick to a strategy to optimise the way you study, it can really hurt your chances of performing to your best potential.
It’s super important to start implementing good study habits early on in the academic year, while you’re still organised and still motivated. Waiting until the workload builds up and the assignments get tougher will make changing your study habits more and more of a challenge.
The most successful students always have good study habits that help them to excel. Students often associate the best performers with the smartest brains, when in reality, the effective study skills play a huge part in your academic success.
I’ve compiled a small but handy list on study habits that you should seriously think about implementing into the way you study. They’ll change it. For real. Here are my top tips for you to read if you want to develop effective study habits:
Oh, hey! You there! Before we get any further, make sure you join my email list for news, updates, exclusive freebies and more!
1. Dedicate a place to your study.
This could be at the desk in your bedroom, or your kitchen table, or even your local library! Anywhere you are comfortable in and work the best in. Once you have that designated place, stick to it! If your study space is personal, like your desk, decorate it and make it a more homely, with photos or candles or gentle background music – anything to motivate you to study.
Try to avoid places with a lot of interruptions too. While studying at home may be the most ideal place for some people, that simply isn’t the case for others. Noisy younger siblings (or older!) and the constant bombardment of household responsibilities can be a huge turn off when you want to get your head down and study. As a result, you’ll find somewhere else to study. Instead of heading towards your local coffee shop, which could also be a huge distraction zone, walk to your local library instead. It’ll (probably) have much fewer distractions, maybe even none, and you’d be getting the most out of your study in a nice, quiet space.
2. Learn to plan your time with each study session.
A good habit to get into is to plan your time. This could be with a timetable where everything you have to do is already structured and set out for you each week, or with a to-do list.
To-do lists are a great option because you’re technically setting yourself mini-goals for each session. This is so useful for motivation and getting the most out of your study time! At the start of the week, try making a list of everything you want to be done by the end of the week. Then, to plan your time further, make smaller lists at the start of each study session for what you want to complete in that particular session. When you complete a task, you get the satisfaction of drawing a big tick!
Developing a study plan for the long-term is equally as important as developing a study plan for the short-term. Making or buying yourself a wall planner or diary planner with key dates of exams and assignment due dates could be really useful in terms of preparation and productivity – you’d be preparing around a date and giving yourself the appropriate amount time to study, and when.
You could also set yourself small goals with your planner – planning around a due date is all well, but setting yourself your own unofficial “due date” can take your study to the next level. You’d be planning how long you should roughly spend on an assignment/revise for an exam, and you’d be optimising those study sessions. Plus, in case you didn’t hear me say it before, setting goals is REALLY good for motivation. Seriously, it’s the key to study success!
3. Time yourself in each study session.
Closely linked to planning your time is timing yourself. It’s good to maintain a similar time slot for each of your study sessions so that you develop a habitual routine. There are a ton of great apps, such as Forest and Tide, that can help with timing and productivity!
The time you set for each session could be the same, or it could be different. If you set yourself the same time for each session, there are many effective time management techniques to use, such as the Pomodoro Technique. You’d be setting yourself, let’s say 25 minutes with 5-minute breaks, for every time you study, which is a great habit to develop. Plus, the Pomodoro Technique can also help with information retention, which is a major tick box checked!
However, if you feel that you can retain focus longer than just 25-30 minutes, or your focus levels tend to fluctuate with each study session (like me), look at your to-do list and set yourself an appropriate time to spend on each task instead.
Try not to give yourself too little time, or you’ll feel pressurised, but don’t give yourself too much time – you still have to motivate yourself! You’ll have more of an idea on setting yourself time goals as you continue it and practise it over time for each study session, so don’t worry if you’re setting yourself an inappropriate amount of time at first. Besides this, setting yourself time goals also ensures that you are making the best use of your time.
4. Study regularly to avoid cramming.
This one is completely relevant to every student. Many courses that we take, be it GCSEs, A-Levels, or the IB, are extremely broad and detailed. It wouldn’t be smart to leave all your studying for the day before an exam – one, there’s way too much information and there’s no way anyone could possibly remember everything in one night; and two, it’s not healthy at all – you’d be under immense pressure and honestly, quite overwhelmed. We’ve all been there, done that, right?
By studying a little bit every day, you don’t have to worry about cramming A LOT of information in your head at last minute, before the exam. You’ll be reviewing your content every day and ensuring that the information stays fresh in your mind. This could be for one hour before school each day, or perhaps you prefer 45 minutes before bed every day. It’s whatever works for you.
5. Take breaks regularly in between your study sessions.
Girl, take a break! It’s good for you. It’s so important to take breaks in between your study sessions because you need time to process your thoughts and redirect your focus. No one can study effectively for 3 hours all at once – you’ll know how long you can focus on your work for. Take breaks while you’re studying, especially if you start to feel tired or frustrated, and come back to the task feeling refreshed.
It’s also a good habit to leave your study space completely during a break. A physical block from you and your revision can help ease your mind and help allow you to return to your work with a new perspective!
Once you’ve established these study habits, you’ll truly be getting the most out of your study sessions. Start implementing what you’ve learnt and start seeing results! To quickly recap:
- Dedicate a place to your study.
- Learn to plan your time with each study session.
- Time yourself in each study session.
- Study regularly to avoid cramming.
- Take breaks regularly in between your study sessions.
I will most definitely be writing a much longer, more detailed version of this blog post, with a lot more tips and advice, because there are a ton of study habits that will improve the way you study, besides the ones I’ve listed here. This just goes to show how much strategy, skills and habits are just as important as effort and brains in terms of academic success!
If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy some of these posts too!:
- Introduction: Welcome To My Blog
- What Is The Pomodoro Technique?
- “Study Smarter, Not Harder”: 13 Tips On How To Study Effectively
If you have any comments, questions or contributions, please feel free to comment them down below! I’m always checking and responding to comments!
Thanks for reading and have fun studying!