Muhammad Rafiq is a freelance writer, blogger, and translator with a master's degree in English literature from the University of Malakand.
How Do I Improve My Study Habits?
Study habits are one of the keys to academic success. As a college student, your grades depend largely on how well you study. If your goal is to get good grades, then you need to develop a routine that addresses your weaknesses and helps you succeed.
Effective studying habits vary from person to person. Some people prefer to study alone, while others work better in groups. Some people like to study over lunch, while others prefer to read at night. The key is to find a time that works best for you, stick with it, and learn to maximize the time you study each day. To help you improve your study habits, here are 10 valuable tips to follow:
- Make a to-do list
- Study before you are tired
- Stay hydrated
- Use flashcards
- Create study groups
- Make it fun
- Take breaks
- Sleep well the night before
- Don’t cram
- Don’t forget breakfast
1. Make a To-Do List
When you study for a big exam, you usually spend at least as much time studying as you spend sleeping and eating. This is one reason why studying can be so stressful.
But if you're stressed, you're not studying, and that means you're spending far more time studying than you need to. So how can you improve your study habits?
Start with this simple tool: a to-do list.
The to-do list is a simple but powerful tool that you can use to improve your study habits. A to-do list can remind you of important things that you need to do, and it can motivate you by helping you avoid forgetting things you have to do. For example, a to-do list can remind you of assignments that you need to turn in, and it can motivate you to study for tests by giving you a benchmark for how much you've already done and how much you still need to do.
2. Study Before You Are Tired
Study before you are tired. This is the golden rule for improving your study habits. It's simple. If you study before you are tired, you are more likely to remember what you have read.
The logic is simple too. You've been staring at the page for so long, your eyes are tired, and it's likely you won't remember much. But if you study after you are tired, you are more likely to get a headache and not be able to recall what you studied. Yes, it's really that simple. And it's effective.
So, next time you're studying for a test, study before you're tired. You'll remember more.
3. Stay Hydrated
As a college student, staying hydrated might be one of the most important things that you do to improve your study habits. Staying hydrated can greatly improve your study habits—when you become dehydrated, your brain loses concentration.
If you aren't used to staying hydrated, you might be wondering how you can improve your studying habits. One of the most important things that you can do to improve your study habits is to drink a lot of water. Drinking a lot of water throughout your day can keep you feeling refreshed and awake.
Your body is made up of 60% water, so it is essential to stay hydrated. Dehydration can leave you feeling sluggish and unfocused, making it difficult to concentrate. Staying hydrated boosts your energy levels, improves your memory, and boosts concentration levels. Drinking water before you study will help you concentrate better.
4. Use Flashcards
One of the best ways to improve study habits is using flashcards. Flashcards are a proven study tool. They help you remember information by associating relevant images with associated keywords. For example, a "flashcard" for "hair" might have a picture of a barber, scissors, a comb, and a hair dryer.
Flashcards can also serve as a kind of mental rehearsal. Just as you can practice a speech by going over it again and again, you can practice remembering information by going through flashcards again and again. Flashcards work best when you can use them regularly. If you only use them every once in a while, you'll probably forget most of what you learned.
When you're studying, make flashcards with as many keywords as you can. The more keywords you have, the more you'll remember. Try not to let the keywords overwhelm you. It's okay to make flashcards for one word or one tiny concept. Study your flashcards by going through them until you're confident that you know everything about them. Highlight or circle words or concepts that still confuse you.
As you go through your flashcards, try to remember any visual images that are in them. These can help you remember the information.
If you have trouble remembering the imagery, try sketching the images in a notebook. Sometimes, seeing something in sketch form makes it easier to remember. Flashcards are useful even when you're studying for tests because they can jog your memory and help you remember important information.
Flashcards can also help with studying for classes. Instead of reading a chapter or reading a textbook, make flashcards for each concept.
5. Create Study Groups
The key to improving your study habits is to find a study group. Study groups are especially helpful when you're studying for exams. You don't have anyone looking over your shoulder, and pressure isn't a factor. You don't even have to talk about it.
If you're struggling with your study habits, you can meet with a friend to study, or you could even create a study group through your school's academic support services.
If you're a student, there's a good chance that your school has a program to help you study. Academic support services are staffed by counselors, librarians, and tutors who are available to help students with their assignments.
These professionals may be able to help you create a study group, and they may even hold regular study sessions themselves.
Another option is social media. You can potentially find a study group through Facebook, Twitter, or your school's student intranet.
To find a study group, list a few keywords, like "study group" or "tutoring," in the search bar. Search through friends, classmates, professors, and classmates. If the results aren't what you expect, try expanding your search to include nearby schools. If you can't find a group through your school, consider joining a club or an organization in your field.
Remember, a study group isn't a substitute for actual study. A group of peers can't come up with correct answers for you. If, after a few weeks or a month, you're still having trouble, it may be time to create a study group of your own.
6. Make It Fun
One of the best ways to improve your study habits is to make it fun. When you're studying something, make it as interesting as possible. You should try to make your studying a lot more enjoyable than it is now. Many people learn better when they're having fun, so you'll want to keep that in mind when you're studying.
If you study something that isn't fun for you, chances are you'll lose interest. You won't want to keep focusing on the material, and you won't really want to remember it.
Stick with subjects that you find interesting, and avoid subjects that you find boring. Study what you find more interesting, and it'll be easier for you to remember.
Fun doesn't have to be complicated. You can study something fun by actually getting excited about it. If you're studying math, for instance, get really excited about the subject matter. After you learn a subject, you should remember how much fun you had studying it.
Another way to make your studying fun is by getting creative. Try using flashcards, and see if you can come up with creative ways to match the words on the cards to the definitions. For example, there's a card that says "fruit." How could you make it a fun study?
Find ways to study that work for you, and stick with it. If you have a strange study habit, use your study time to perfect it. Work on it until it gets good enough so that you can do it without getting distracted. Once you improve your study habits, you'll be able to focus on studying without getting distracted.
7. Take Breaks
Taking breaks while studying is one of the most effective ways to improve your study habits. You should also know that taking breaks while studying can help you better retain information. If you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed out, taking even a short 10-to-15-minute break can help you recharge and refocus.
Breaks don't have to be long. If you find you get distracted or caught up in a conversation, then stop and take a break. This can result in you coming back to your studies refreshed and ready to tackle them. They will seem new again, giving you a new burst of energy. There is also evidence that taking power naps while studying can help you perform better.
So, find what works for you.
The trick is to stick to a routine so that taking breaks becomes a habit. But whatever you choose, if you need to stop studying, do it.
Don't push it.
There are benefits to taking a break. They give you a chance to reconnect with friends, family, and the world around you. They can also stop you from burning out.
But most importantly, studying regularly and regularly taking breaks can help you improve your studying habits. When you follow your study plan, stick to your study schedule, and take breaks, you will find yourself enjoying studying more.
8. Sleep Well Before Studying
Sleep is one of the most important and overlooked factors when it comes to improving study habits. If you’re tired, there’s no telling what you’re going to accomplish. You may have hours of study time in front of you, but you may be too exhausted to pay attention.
- Sleep impacts your mood. You might think that when you’re tired, you’re going to be extra irritable and moody that you won’t get anything done. But in reality, you’ll be extra crabby for no reason.
- Sleep affects your learning. When you’re tired, your brain does not function as well as it does when you’re well-rested. It’s easier to get distracted, more mistakes are made, and your grades suffer.
- Sleep affects your motivation. Chances are, if you’re tired, you’re not as motivated to study. In fact, you’re probably struggling to sit down and complete one task.
- Sleep affects your attention span. When you’re tired, you have a hard time staying on task. You get bored, your attention wanders, and you get distracted.
- Sleep affects your memory. You make more mistakes, forget new information, and struggle to recall what you’ve already learned.
- Sleep affects your focus. You’re having a hard time staying on task, your mind wanders, you’re easily distracted, and you can't focus.
- Sleep affects your mood. When you’re tired, your mood is affected—you’re grouchy, irritable, and a little depressed.
- Sleep affects your productivity. When you’re tired, you’re less productive. You’re slower, make mistakes, and spend more time and energy trying to do something.
9. Don’t Cram
When it comes to improving your study habits, cramming is a bad idea. Cramming is when you study at the last minute when you have very little time. Cramming is a tactic you use when you are short on time and have to study. While cramming can be a good strategy in some situations, it’s not the best approach.
If you’ve ever tried to cram for a test, you know it’s not the best way to go. Cramming doesn’t work. It’s stressful, and it’s usually ineffective. Cramming might make you study harder, but studies show that cramming doesn’t work. In fact, cramming can actually prevent people from learning.
Unless you’re taking an exam on material you hadn’t studied before, cramming doesn’t work for improving your studying habits. It’s much better to slowly work through the material, reviewing it frequently and letting it sink in.
Studying this way gives you the chance to learn the material well and remember it. It also helps you avoid cramming.
10. Don’t Forget Breakfast
When you’re cramming for a test or exam, it’s easy to skip breakfast. But skipping breakfast may not be the best idea when you’re trying to improve your study habits.
The most important meal of the day is breakfast. When you wake up, your blood sugar is low, and your brain needs glucose to function. If you haven’t eaten breakfast, your blood sugar level drops. That puts a strain on your brain. It’s going to function less well, and that’s not a good thing when you’re trying to learn.
So eating breakfast before a test, exam or study should be a priority. Start by eating a whole grain breakfast, which will help with energy. Next, have protein, fruit, and dairy. A balanced breakfast will give you the energy you need. It will help prevent you from feeling hungry while studying.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Muhammad Rafiq
Muhammad Rafiq (author) from Pakistan on September 29, 2021:
Thanks for your thoughts, Audrey Hunt. I'm glad you liked it.
Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on September 29, 2021:
I'm a life-time student and plan to continue until my last breath. Great study habits. I like #6 because "If it isn't fun, I don't do it."
Thanks so much!
Muhammad Rafiq (author) from Pakistan on September 29, 2021:
Thank you for your thoughts, Bill. In college, I was in a similar scenario. However, I have really improved my study habits.
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on September 29, 2021:
I had horrible study habits in high school. I had excellent study habits in college. Failing one subject was a great motivator to learn how to study. Excellent article!