I used to be the girl who doesn’t study unless it was the night before the exams. Unfortunately, university life changed me. I was once told that if I don’t change my study habits, my study habits will change me—and boy, it couldn’t be any more true. That was when I started mapping out strategies and reading a bunch of studying tips.
Thankfully, I was able to find effective studying tips that I’m confident to share with you. Here are some of them.
Studying Tips: The Do’s
Make a Study Plan
I can’t imagine myself not having a productivity planner, sticky notes, or those cute memo pads with cat designs. They’re a must for school because they make my day 10 times more productive.
Plan everything. Jot down all the details but make sure they’re realistic and attainable. It always feels good to check something on your to-do checklist, trust me. This is probably my favorite out of all my studying tips.
Practice Color-Coding Strategies
How to stay organized when studying? Assign colors for your notes and readings. I personally use red for anything urgent, yellow for examples and tips, and other cool colors like blue and green for reminders.
I only use 3 colors when highlighting. You can use more as long as you won’t be confused with the color coding.
Utilize Index Cards
I buy index cards every semester, both 3″ x 5″ and 4″ x 6″. They’re helpful in writing down important notes like keywords and math formulas. It’s easier to memorize that way compared to merely looking at your messy, text-heavy notes or books.
Mnemonics are another must for studying because they make memorizing relatively easier. Basically, you just pick all the first letters and memorize the initials.
Enjoy a Cup of Your Favorite Drink
I like drinking black coffee when studying. Avoid drinking instant coffee as they’re full of sugar and other chemicals that may cause brain fog.
If you’re not a coffee person, you can drink tea, juice, smoothie, and basically any other healthy drinks.
Listen to Calming Music
There are studies that classical music helps, but honestly, it makes me sleepy. Go and find your “study music”.
It doesn’t matter if your study music is rock or indie or pop—make sure that it relaxes you and gives you the right amount of motivation to study.
A note, though, I suggest you avoid adding some of your shower songs to your study playlist as you might end up having your own concert instead of focusing.
Ask For Help
If you seriously can’t understand what you’re studying, go and ask for help. You can consult with your professors or join a study group to help each other.
Keep Your Study Area Clean
It feels refreshing to study with a clean, organized table. You can move around freely, and it won’t be frustrating for you because everything is in place.
Reward yourself with something you enjoy after studying. It’s something to look forward to after a (stressful) study session.
You know yourself better so it can be as simple as watching an episode of your favorite Netflix series, eating ice cream, or simply sleeping.
You need it. In fact, you need tons of it. Studying can be very tiring and not having enough sleep can cause irritability that may, in turn, cause you to fail the exams.
Establish a schedule with self-care in mind so that it won’t be too draining for you.
Studying Tips: The Don’ts
Study in Bed
Studying in bed is an absolute no-no for me. No matter how much you say you’re more comfortable in bed, you will end up laying down after 10 minutes, and then you’ll fall asleep (guilty).
Your bed is for sleeping. Don’t let your brain associate it with studying because you’ll end up having sleepless nights.
Cramming all the lessons in one night doesn’t work for everyone. You’ll most likely mix up the terminologies or—worse comes to worst—forget everything. Again, make sure you follow a study plan.
Same with procrastination, multitasking is not for everyone. Some people enjoy watching TV while studying, while some people avoid any type of noise.
As much as possible, avoid doing other stuff while studying because you’re only exposing yourself to unnecessary distractions.
Check Your Phone Every 5 Minutes
In this day and age, the majority of us can’t stand not looking at our phones every few minutes, but please, avoid it. It’s never going to help.
Use your study breaks to check your phone or social media sites, not in the middle of reading your notes. Or if you’re really up for it, do a social media detox.
Study With a Loud Group
I never did study groups back in college, but maybe they work well if you’re studying around grade-conscious students and not the loud groups.
Loud groups tend to end up talking about something—may it be a random celebrity gossip or favorite food (or anything under the sun but your academics, really).
Eat Junk Food
It’s a no-brainer that junk food causes brain fog. It makes you sluggish and bloated until you just want to sleep through the night.
Also, don’t drink soda or other energy drinks while studying. Too much sugar in your system won’t help.
Drink Too Much Caffeine
I love coffee so much but drinking one cup after another won’t help at all. Yes, it wakes you up but it will backfire eventually, making you way more tired than ever.
Again, go for brewed coffee, not the pre-packed instant one. Instant coffees contain more sugar than caffeine.
Do an All-Nighter
Don’t stay up all night studying because you might end up completely spacing out the next day—or worst-case scenario, miss your exam. You need enough sleep for your exam day, period.
Rely on Memorization
Memorize your lessons by heart, not merely feed the words to your brain. You need to understand every bit of it. Remember that you’re studying for your long-term benefit, not only for a specific exam.
Giving up is not an option (well, most times). Take a deep breath, rest, reward yourself, and go back where you left off.
P.S.: These studying tips can also be applied to your study habits in general, not just for your upcoming exams. What are some of your favorite study habits or techniques? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.