You’ve bought all the sticky notes, highlighter pens and cue cards you could get your hands on. Now what? Studying effectively is a skill which requires practice. Below we offer some tips to help develop your study skills and make your revision easier.
By Grant Longstaff. Published 14 December 2022.
Know your study technique
One of the first steps to successful study is figuring out exactly what works for you. Do coloured tabs help you break down topics into manageable chunks or simply fill you with dread? Would it be more beneficial to rewrite a text in your own words rather than read the same page over and over? Do you prefer listening to information? Is a visual aid a better way to absorb a complex idea? Knowing what works best for you can involve some trial and error, however taking some time to explore different study techniques could help save you time in the long run. It’s also important to remain open minded. What works for one person might not necessarily work for another. Similarly, a study technique you’ve previously used may not work this time around.
Schedule your study
Scheduling time to study can be beneficial, especially if you don’t enjoy doing it. Think strategically about the timetable you draw up. Consider the time of day which works best for you and be aware of study fatigue. It’s no good blocking out an entire morning if you know your concentration will begin to wane after an hour. Figuring out when you study best means you’re much more likely to stick to a manageable timetable.
Another tip is to not only map out when you’ll study, but also what. Detailing what you’ll cover in each session beforehand can help avoid time being wasted when you do sit down to study.
Studying doesn’t always have to be a solo pursuit. Turn to your classmates and arrange study sessions together. Is there a particularly difficult topic you can break down together? You could tackle it over coffee. Your strengths may differ from your peers, so help and support each other to better understand the subjects each of you find challenging.
Additionally, don’t be afraid to ask for help from friends and family. They don’t need to fully understand the subject you’re studying to become the perfect quiz master.
Change your study space
Just because you’re studying doesn’t mean you have to confine yourself to a desk. Visit your campus or local library or escape to a quiet corner of the local park or a coffee shop. Sometimes a change of scenery can have a positive influence on both your learning and mood.
Beyond the books
Reading informs a huge part of study, but there are ways to learn outside of books, so don’t be afraid to look beyond the page. Consider using other mediums, such as videos or podcasts, to research complicated ideas. Sometimes seeing a concept in action, or listening to it be broken down, can help make it stick. Reach out to your colleagues and tutors for recommendations on podcasts or YouTube channels they feel might be beneficial to your studies and start there.
Don’t underestimate the power of alternative study methods. Whether it’s quizzing and team revision or videos and mind maps, these breaks from reading can help you digest and retain information in new ways.
Studying can be stressful, so it’s important you make time to look after yourself. Ensure you’re getting enough sleep; a tired mind is no good for revision and could have a detrimental effect on your wellbeing. Equally, make sure youeat well and stay hydrated. Take the time to exercise, even if it’s just a short walk, and get some fresh air. Stay in touch with friends. Treat yourself to cake. This leads to our final tip.
Take a break
It may feel counterproductive, but regular breaks from studying are just as important to the study itself. It gives you, and your mind, a chance to rest and recover before you return to the books. To begin, add free periods to your study schedule to ensure you take regular breaks. Don’t feel guilty for watching an episode of your favourite Netflix series. you’ve earned it.
It’s also important to take a break during revision. This might be difficult to manage, especially if you’re deep into a textbook and want to keep going. This is where using the Pomodoro Technique could be beneficial. The Pomodoro Technique was developed in the 1980’s and involves using a timer to manage work and breaks. You set a timer for a period which suits you, usually 25 minutes, and work solidly. No distractions allowed. Not even TikTok. When the timer goes off you rest for five minutes. Leave your desk, walk about and stretch, give your eyes a break from the screen. After the five minutes is up you repeat the process. If you carry out any more than four repetitions it’s recommended you take a longer break.
Studying can be challenging, however, with better planning and a change in both approach and strategy you’ll hopefully form better revision habits.