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12
Sep

Pro Study Tips

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Pro Study Tips

In early September as we load our children onto school busses for yet another year of learning, it’s a good time to examine our own study habits and determine how to make the most of our education. Perhaps we feel overwhelmed by school, work, and family obligations, and we make studying a non-priority. Or maybe over the hot, lazy summer we just lost a bit of our studying-motivation. Not to worry! As autumn brings with it changing leaves and cooling weather, it can also allow us the opportunity to reset and reconnect with our academic goals. Below are ten tips to help you on your quest for a successful school year 

Take notes in class: There are innumerable benefits to note-taking. Sometimes it’s as simple as keeping you engaged in an otherwise boring lecture. In fact, studies show that the physical act of writing triggers your brain to pay closer attention. Taking notes can also help you visualize information, can keep you alert in class, and gives you a handy study guide for that quiz or test in the upcoming weeks.

Review your notes as soon as you can after class: The best way to commit your notes to memory is to review them as soon as you can after class. This will help cement the information and concepts for you. Better still, taking the time to rewrite your notes by organizing them, color-coding them, and drawing connections between the ideas will cut down on study time later in the term. And if you make flashcards for vocab words and other concepts, you can study anywhere and anytime!

Do your homework: This should go without saying, but I’ll repeat it anyway. Do your homework! The purpose of homework is not to give you busy work but to provide you with practice for concepts and information useful to the class. It’s a built-in study session.

Have a dedicated study space free of distractions: What happens when you study in your bed? You probably fall asleep. When you study near the TV? You probably get lured into that most recent Real Housewives episode. Or when you study at the dinner table? If you’re anything like me, you get hungry! We need a dedicated space, whether it’s at home, the library or even school, that is free from the TV, phone, Facebook, and the temptation of sleep or food so that we can dedicate our minds to learning.

Study in small chunks of time: According to Professor Marty Lobdell, a psychology professor at Pierce College, most of us can only study for up to 25 – 30 minutes at a time. Any more than that, and our brains stop processing information. Lobdell says we need “recharge our batteries”. Take a walk, listen to music, or call a friend. The break doesn’t have to be long; even five minutes can ensure we’re reenergized to tackle our school work with gusto.

Sneak in studying: Sometimes we don’t even have a free 30-minute chunk of time to study – that’s okay! We can sneak in 5, 10, 15 minutes of study. When you’re on break from work, riding the bus, waiting at the doctor’s office, or eating a quick breakfast, use those few moments of quiet to review notes or flashcards.

Make sure you take care of yourself: Get enough sleep, eat well, exercise, and drink enough water. When we miss out on crucial sleep, our mood shifts into gloomy-Gus mode, and it becomes difficult to do anything, let alone study. According the LiveStrong.com, eating more fruits and vegetables can lead to improved concentration. And even mild dehydration can impair brain function. On the other hand, regular exercise can improve memory and critical thinking skills.

Have a plan when you sit down to study: Don’t waste the time you do spend studying. Before you begin, know exactly what you want to accomplish. Whether it’s setting to memory this week’s vocabulary words, reading an important chapter, or starting to understand a vital concept, having a game plan will make your study time worthwhile.

Find a study group: Studying with a partner or group has many benefits. Having an outside perspective to help understand a difficult concept can be a grade-saver. In addition, being able to talk about what you’ve learned helps commit it to memory. Plus, two is better than one! Studying with a friend can make a dull subject more exciting.

Reward yourself after you study: Human beings are predictable. We stop doing things we hate and we continue habits that make us feel good. It’s Pavlonian: when you reward yourself for a job well-done, such as taking the time to study, you’ll condition yourself to want to study more. The more you study, the more rewards you get, and consequently, the more you’ll want to study! Plus, you’ll have better grades and set yourself up for success upon graduation and entering the job market. It’s a win-win!

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