Temma Ehrenfeld

14 Great Study Habits for a Lifetime

These tips can help at all ages, from high-school students to job-changers..

Posted May 10, 2023 | Reviewed by Davia Sills

  • Discipline and focus are skills that can develop over time with incremental practice.
  • Avoid multitasking whenever possible. People tend to think they're better at multitasking than they are.
  • Getting creative with memory devices can enhance recall and productivity.

Photo by Windows on Unsplash

Whether you’re a retiree learning for fun, adapting to meet challenges at a job, or boning up as part of a career switch, study habits can come in handy.

Here are 14 ways to improve how you learn. They may be especially helpful if you have ADHD or a low mood that limits your energy.

1. Take a little time to get into the right frame of mind.

Take a little time, not so much that you’ve used up all of your available time. For example, dance to an upbeat song for 10 minutes. If you’re distracted by chores that need doing, list them, then put the list away for later. If you’re completely obsessed with a distraction, be honest with yourself. But don’t just procrastinate . Decide exactly when you’ll do your studying and commit to being in the right frame of mind.

Be positive. Instead of thinking, “I don’t have enough time,” think, “I’m starting now.” Remember that discipline and focus are skills that you can build over time in small steps.

2. Find a quiet spot without distractions and return to it next time.

Think, “Where did I do well?” Look for the ideal situation, not just “good enough.” It might be as simple as choosing to sit up on a living room chair rather than lie down on the sofa to read. The bed probably isn’t the best place.

3. Bring what you need, but only what you need.

If you need a book, don’t forget it. But if you can leave your smartphone well out of reach, do so. Do you truly learn best while listening to music? If so, have your music and earphones, but otherwise, don’t have them handy.

4. Don’t multitask.

You may think you’re an expert at watching a video with the information you need and scrolling through Instagram . However, evidence suggests that common sense applies: You have only so much working memory , and you’re taking some of it up on Instagram. Your multitasking means you won’t absorb and retain as much of the video.

5. Outline your notes. Make lists and fill them in.

Make outlines that work for you, even if they might be confusing to someone else. Use words that make sense to you, translating the words in material you may be reading. “Chunk” together the groups of words or facts or ideas that you feel belong in a group. The goal is to produce an outline that will help you—not someone else—remember the material.

Writing may work better than keyboarding into a laptop. There’s some evidence that that helps us think. Read aloud an important sentence if you’re alone or mouth the words if you’re in a library. You may think it’s babyish to mouth or read aloud. Actually, poetry was the first way that human beings remembered stories, and we haven’t changed that much.

6. If you like memory devices, use them and get creative.

Make up a catchy rhyme to associate ideas and repeat it out loud. Make up a sentence. For example, “Never Ever Seem Worried,” is a way to remember “North, East, South, West.” “Every Good Boy Deserves Fun” helps music students remember the five notes of the treble clef, “E, G, B, D, F.”

If you don’t know if you like memory devices, try one out and see if it sticks. Then the next time you’re studying, you can try another one.

If you tend to be visual, take your time looking at the illustrations or photos in the book you’re reading to associate them with the information.

7. Practice.

If you’re taking a class and will be writing the answer to a surprise question on a test, make up a likely question and do the exercise of writing an answer with a timer on. Do it again.

Actually try to solve the sample problems in the materials you’re using; don’t just read the answers. Make up similar problems, try to solve them, and later on, at the end of a study period, find sources that can tell you whether your answers were correct. If you’re learning a new language, you might write out some questions and answers and show them to a native speaker at your next opportunity. Research suggests that an activity in which you generate a product or test yourself is more powerful than time spent consuming information—for example, reviewing notes.

good study habits l

8. Find buddies.

Some people like to work with a group of four or five other people who are at about their level. Quiz each other. Try to do as well as the person you most admire. Turn envy into a source of motivation rather than resentment.

9. Make a schedule you can stick to.

If you have any flexibility, notice the times of day when you’re sharpest and dedicate them to learning. If you’re studying at home on a weekend or work at home, take a warm morning shower to gear up for analytical work, advises biologist and body-clock expert Steve Kay. Get your studying or work done before lunch, especially if you’re an early riser. You’re likely to be most distractible from noon to 4 p.m.

Sticking to a schedule may seem like a burden, but you’ll appreciate the investment if you can avoid last-minute cramming. How many minutes you spend each time is less important than regularity.

9. Space it out.

Most work goes better if you divide it into realistic chunks. Try not to cram for an exam in one burst. The evidence against cramming is mixed, but the common-sense advice to plan ahead and proceed in a consistent way, spacing out your study time, does seem to be right.

10. Take breaks.

If you’re falling asleep while reading, you may have picked the wrong time of day to study. Consider a nap if you’re sleep-deprived and then get back to work.

If you’re losing focus, but not short of sleep, move. It’ll help you more than extra coffee and stoking yourself with sugar is a mistake. Stretch and walk to the other end of the library at least once an hour. Even better, go for a short jog.

Bouts of movement—typically 15 to 20 minutes at moderate intensity—can measurably boost your mood and cognitive performance. Even 10 minutes can make a difference. Take time to look out the window, especially if you have a view of trees or other greenery. Nature is a good stress -reliever , even if you can’t climb the Himalayas today. If you succeed at a significant goal—maybe reading an entire chapter—treat yourself by a break flying over the Himalayas on Google’s satellite map.

10. Reward yourself.

It’s healthy to set goals and then reward yourself in ways you decide in advance—not French fries, but something you won’t regret later. Facebook is an OK break if you haven’t let it become a substitute for what you meant to do.

11. Students need to learn about finding balance.

This means getting enough sleep, eating regularly and well, exercising, and not becoming too distracted or obsessed by personal problems. As adults, we, too, need to keep that kind of balance.

12. Don’t depend on drugs to make you more focused and productive.

Also don’t indulge in partying in ways that will interfere with the next day.

13. If you’re taking a course, talk to the instructor early on, or an assistant, to know what to expect.

You may be aiming high, so plan on working harder or be realistic about your grade. Suss out what’s most important to the instructor. Establish a connection so you can talk to the instructor if you find yourself falling behind or do badly on a project. Pay attention in class.

14. Recall your original goals and motivations.

Sometimes we lose track of our original impetus once we're midway through an endeavor. Why did you want to master this material? If you're resenting the time, money, or difficulty, talk to someone you trust to reorient yourself.

Temma Ehrenfeld

Temma Ehrenfeld is a New York-based science writer, and former assistant editor at Newsweek .

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Top 10 Study Tips to Study Like a Harvard Student

Adjusting to a demanding college workload might be a challenge, but these 10 study tips can help you stay prepared and focused.

Lian Parsons

The introduction to a new college curriculum can seem overwhelming, but optimizing your study habits can boost your confidence and success both in and out of the classroom. 

Transitioning from high school to the rigor of college studies can be overwhelming for many students, and finding the best way to study with a new course load can seem like a daunting process. 

Effective study methods work because they engage multiple ways of learning. As Jessie Schwab, psychologist and preceptor at the Harvard College Writing Program, points out, we tend to misjudge our own learning. Being able to recite memorized information is not the same as actually retaining it. 

“One thing we know from decades of cognitive science research is that learners are often bad judges of their own learning,” says Schwab. “Memorization seems like learning, but in reality, we probably haven’t deeply processed that information enough for us to remember it days—or even hours—later.”

Planning ahead and finding support along the way are essential to your success in college. This blog will offer study tips and strategies to help you survive (and thrive!) in your first college class. 

1. Don’t Cram! 

It might be tempting to leave all your studying for that big exam up until the last minute, but research suggests that cramming does not improve longer term learning. 

Students may perform well on a test for which they’ve crammed, but that doesn’t mean they’ve truly learned the material, says an article from the American Psychological Association . Instead of cramming, studies have shown that studying with the goal of long-term retention is best for learning overall.   

2. Plan Ahead—and Stick To It! 

Having a study plan with set goals can help you feel more prepared and can give you a roadmap to follow. Schwab said procrastination is one mistake that students often make when transitioning to a university-level course load. 

“Oftentimes, students are used to less intensive workloads in high school, so one of my biggest pieces of advice is don’t cram,” says Schwab. “Set yourself a study schedule ahead of time and stick to it.”

3. Ask for Help

You don’t have to struggle through difficult material on your own. Many students are not used to seeking help while in high school, but seeking extra support is common in college.

As our guide to pursuing a biology major explains, “Be proactive about identifying areas where you need assistance and seek out that assistance immediately. The longer you wait, the more difficult it becomes to catch up.”

There are multiple resources to help you, including your professors, tutors, and fellow classmates. Harvard’s Academic Resource Center offers academic coaching, workshops, peer tutoring, and accountability hours for students to keep you on track.  

4. Use the Buddy System 

Your fellow students are likely going through the same struggles that you are. Reach out to classmates and form a study group to go over material together, brainstorm, and to support each other through challenges.

Having other people to study with means you can explain the material to one another, quiz each other, and build a network you can rely on throughout the rest of the class—and beyond. 

5. Find Your Learning Style

It might take a bit of time (and trial and error!) to figure out what study methods work best for you. There are a variety of ways to test your knowledge beyond simply reviewing your notes or flashcards. 

Schwab recommends trying different strategies through the process of metacognition. Metacognition involves thinking about your own cognitive processes and can help you figure out what study methods are most effective for you. 

Schwab suggests practicing the following steps:

  • Before you start to read a new chapter or watch a lecture, review what you already know about the topic and what you’re expecting to learn.
  • As you read or listen, take additional notes about new information, such as related topics the material reminds you of or potential connections to other courses. Also note down questions you have.
  • Afterward, try to summarize what you’ve learned and seek out answers to your remaining questions. 

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6. Take Breaks

The brain can only absorb so much information at a time. According to the National Institutes of Health , research has shown that taking breaks in between study sessions boosts retention. 

Studies have shown that wakeful rest plays just as important a role as practice in learning a new skill. Rest allows our brains to compress and consolidate memories of what we just practiced. 

Make sure that you are allowing enough time, relaxation, and sleep between study sessions so your brain will be refreshed and ready to accept new information.

7. Cultivate a Productive Space

Where you study can be just as important as how you study. 

Find a space that is free of distractions and has all the materials and supplies you need on hand. Eat a snack and have a water bottle close by so you’re properly fueled for your study session. 

8. Reward Yourself

Studying can be mentally and emotionally exhausting and keeping your stamina up can be challenging.

Studies have shown that giving yourself a reward during your work can increase the enjoyment and interest in a given task.

According to an article for Science Daily , studies have shown small rewards throughout the process can help keep up motivation, rather than saving it all until the end. 

Next time you finish a particularly challenging study session, treat yourself to an ice cream or  an episode of your favorite show.

9. Review, Review, Review

Practicing the information you’ve learned is the best way to retain information. 

Researchers Elizabeth and Robert Bjork have argued that “desirable difficulties” can enhance learning. For example, testing yourself with flashcards is a more difficult process than simply reading a textbook, but will lead to better long-term learning. 

“One common analogy is weightlifting—you have to actually “exercise those muscles” in order to ultimately strengthen your memories,” adds Schwab.

10. Set Specific Goals

Setting specific goals along the way of your studying journey can show how much progress you’ve made. Psychology Today recommends using the SMART method:

  • Specific: Set specific goals with an actionable plan, such as “I will study every day between 2 and 4 p.m. at the library.”  
  • Measurable: Plan to study a certain number of hours or raise your exam score by a certain percent to give you a measurable benchmark.
  • Realistic: It’s important that your goals be realistic so you don’t get discouraged. For example, if you currently study two hours per week, increase the time you spend to three or four hours rather than 10.
  • Time-specific: Keep your goals consistent with your academic calendar and your other responsibilities.

Using a handful of these study tips can ensure that you’re getting the most out of the material in your classes and help set you up for success for the rest of your academic career and beyond. 

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About the Author

Lian Parsons is a Boston-based writer and journalist. She is currently a digital content producer at Harvard’s Division of Continuing Education. Her bylines can be found at the Harvard Gazette, Boston Art Review, Radcliffe Magazine, Experience Magazine, and iPondr.

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Develop Good Habits

13 Effective Study Habit Examples: Improve Your Study Routine

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Are you a student looking to build effective study habits? Is your study routine not as effective as it could be?

Maybe it’s time to follow a new study schedule that will help you better retain material, manage your time, help you retain information and even help you improve your concentration and focus.

Here are 13 good study habit examples you can use to enhance your learning style, develop a quality study routine and start achieving your educational goals . ​

Let’s get to it.

Table of Contents

#1 – Keep Track of Important Dates

Carrying different dates around in your head is a surefire way to forget or start muddling up important dates. Getting a planner or calendar is an easy way to store this vital information.

A calendar or planner allows you to keep track of due dates, examinations, and various tasks to complete for different projects – having this on paper eases your mental load.

A good planner allows you to keep track of everything you need to know and also allows you to organize your own time easily. This leads to more effective studying and less wasted time.

To get started, here are our recommended study planners .

#2 – Know Your Dominant Learning Style

It’s important to know that there are many different styles of learning and each person will retain information better in different ways.

  • As you can see, visual learners learn best when pictures, images, and spatial understanding is used. (Check out our collection of vision board ideas for students .)
  • Auditory learners prefer using music, sounds or both.
  • Kinesthetic learners prefer a more physical style of learning through using the body, sense of touch and hands.
  • Logical learners desire to use reasoning, logic and systems. (And like answering logic questions !)
  • Verbal learners will prefer using words in writing and speech.
  • Social learners will prefer to learn with other people or in groups.
  • Solitary learners are able to learn best alone.

This infographic provides a good overview of the seven learning styles. You can use it as a quick reference guide.

Once you have figured out which style of learning works best for you, it will help you determine how to study, where to study, when to study, what distracts you and what study aids you should use.

Consistency gets results!

Make your study habit part of your morning routine so that it becomes an effortless part of your day. Get excited about learning instead of dreading your study schedule.

To learn more about the different learning styles, read our article on the Learning Retention Pyramid .

#3 – Create and Write Down Realistic Study Goals

If your goal is too big to achieve, then you might be setting yourself up for failure and this will also not help motivate you to study and accomplish your SMART student goals , or if you're in college, your SMART college student goals .

Once you know your learning style, do a self-assessment of your current study habits and your current grades.

Here are some questions to ask yourself that will help you create realistic goals and come up with a plan for good study habits.

  • When do you usually study and for how long?
  • Do you find that it is effective?
  • Are you happy with your grades?
  • What subjects do you need to focus on or are having difficulty with?
  • What grades do you need to have in order to pass?
  • What are your personal commitments and priorities?

Here's our roundup of the best (and free) study plan templates to help make sure you stay on top of your academic goals.

After answering and reflecting on these questions, you’ll be able to see areas where you need to focus.

Maybe you are not spending enough time doing the right amount of work necessary each day or perhaps you choose to study late at night when you’re not as alert and energetic.

If you have noticed your grades are slipping in certain courses then perhaps you need to hire a tutor to help you with those subjects.

Social commitments or spending time on social media can eat away the hours. While it’s fun to socialize, pruning back some time spent here to study can pay off hugely in the long run.

Use the SMART method when setting up goals: set Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound goals.

Check out this guide to learn the 13 steps to write and set SMART goals .

#4 – Make Study Time a Part of Your Daily Routine

If cramming all of your study time into a few long days isn’t working for you then it’s time to try something new (and way less stressful). Make time for studying every single day, with or without exams coming up. 

Remember that consistency is key and once you start getting into good study habits, it will become a routine and that you will be able to maintain throughout the school year. Self-discipline is key.

Check your schedule for the week or month, and see where you have free time or what you can discard:

  • Establish your priorities – whether that’s chores, must-attend activities, or appointments. By looking at your calendar, and setting up your priorities, you will be able to schedule your study sessions for the month.
  • Choose blocks of time when you feel you’re at your best.
  • Try to stay committed to your new study schedule.

Some people work best in the mornings, and others, at night. If you’re unsure when you work best, try studying at different times of the day to see which suits you and your body clock best.

READ: The Study Plan Schedule Strategy (That Actually Works!)

good study habits l

Once you have found which blocks of time work best, you can always add in additional time to study by waking up an hour early to review your notes, or an hour later if you study better at night.

Make sure you build flexibility into your schedule. Your calendar and schedule will change because of unforeseen events. Be ready to plan around some things that come your way and still make time to study.

#5 – How to Structure Your Daily Study Routine

The following are some great ideas to structure your study routine. These work best when you are using a mixture of learning styles as mentioned above.

Start with watching or attending your lectures, and then doing an additional one to three hours of personal study (with breaks) to review your notes on those lectures.

This way, you are using both auditory and visual learning styles as well as repetition, which will help fix what you’re learning into memory.

Start with the difficult topics and subjects first, so that you are not going to put them off until a later date. Shorter study sessions are more effective for subjects you find difficult.

To get started, we recommend you time block your study session so it looks like this:

  • Schedule study sessions in two, 30-minute to one hour blocks
  • Take short 5- to 10-minute breaks in between.
  • When you take breaks, you allow your mind to rest, revitalize and be ready for more learning.

If you want to see what this looks like then here are 17 free study plan templates .

#6 – Establish a Study Zone

Establish a study zone, especially if you're engaged in virtual learning . Some people like quiet places, others will need a little bit of background noise.

Which one do you prefer?

If there is too much going on at your house then maybe it’s time to think about going to the library or a coffee bar and using headphones.

Make sure you have the necessary items with you when you study. You’ll need a desk that’s big enough to spread your books, laptop, paper, and supplies.

Using the best study lighting is also important for everyone when studying. If you want to preserve your eyesight and maximize your time and energy, then choose lighting that will not cause eyestrain or fatigue so you can keep your study session effective at any time of the day.

Don’t be afraid to establish boundaries in your study zone. Let anyone living with you know when your door is closed, it means you do not want to be disturbed. Try not to be distracted by  phone calls or texts, as this breaks your focus.

Girl reading in a study zone

It’s best to find not just one place to study, but at least two or three additional options . This way, you will have a backup plan in case your main study area can’t be used.

A change of environment is said to improve concentration and creativity so even if you don’t need to change places, it wouldn’t be a bad idea.

While you establish rules for others, you also need to establish rules for yourself:

  • Get rid of all distractions.
  • Don’t choose a place where you will be tempted to watch TV, check in with your smartphone, or study in a high-traffic area where people will be coming and going.
  • Choose to study offline as much as possible. There are way too many distractions that are only a click away.
  • If you need to check something, write it down and check it after your study session is over.

Also, here are a few helpful study tips to get the most out of your study session:

  • Avoid eating a heavy meal before studying. A heavy meal can make you sleepy which will make it more difficult for you to study. Choose to eat small and frequent meals instead.
  • Move or take a short walk before sitting down to study. Stretching, walking or even dancing will help prepare your body and mind to be more receptive to learning.
  • Prioritize your assignment dates: write down every assignment or task when you first hear about it instead of just “remembering” it. We live in such a fast paced world that’s full of distractions and it’s easy and normal to forget things.
  • Include important details such as page numbers, due dates, test dates, pointers, or anything else that might be helpful when writing assignments down.

One way to make prioritizing your tasks simple is to organize your study notes by using colors or labels. Whether you use an online notebook or a binder, developing your own color-coding system will help you (and your thoughts) get organized.

You can use colors to color-code your subjects, projects and even teachers. You can also use different colored pens, highlighters, sticky notes, folders and labels.

Colors and labels will also help you later when you when you need to review your notes, the colorful sections will help those notes stand out and be unique and memorable.

If you struggle to understand complex study material, using the Feynman technique can help you learn faster and more efficiently.

#7 – Take Great Notes

Do you find yourself struggling with taking good notes?

Develop your note-taking skills to aid what you’re in the process of learning. When you review your notes, they should help you study and remember the most essential information.

You don’t need to take notes of everything ! If the teacher keeps repeating something or has written down any important terms – you should make note of this.

Your note-taking style might also depend on your learning style like we mentioned above. Perhaps you might need to draw little diagrams in your notes if you are more of a visual learner.

It is important to take notes to study at peak efficiency

An auditory learner will learn better if you record the class discussions and lectures, or you can listen to informational and educational podcasts related to the subject. Your notes do not need to be handwritten if your learning style is auditory.

A good study routine plays to the strengths of your learning style.

Another fun way to remember things is to use mnemonics for better memory recall . For any type of list, steps, stages or parts you can use mnemonic devices to help you retain information. Mnemonic types include: music, name, expression, rhyme, spelling and more.

(If you're looking for another way to improve your memory, check out these memory games .)

#8 – Review Your Notes

Before and after your study sessions, you should always skim your notes from the recent lesson or topic you studied before starting on a new one. Reviewing your notes once before going to bed will also help to cement new knowledge into your brain.

You can get the most out of your notes by breaking up the topic you’re learning into shorter tasks. Spending over an hour reviewing your notes is counter-productive but shorter review blocks are a powerful learning strategy.

Finally, if you have piles of notes and are struggling to find the ones you need – you can digitize your notes! This resource tells you how to digitize your notes in 3 easy steps .

#9 – Use Technology Wisely During Class

If you are using a laptop for note-taking in class, then make sure you are still able to focus and pay attention. Laptops and phones can bring down your grade . Don’t believe us? This Michigan State University article shows why surfing the web in class is a bad idea.

You don’t want to get into the habit of surfing the web, checking social media, or using your smartphone in class. if you’re frequently checking the internet or your smartphone when studying, then you’re likely to sabotage your own learning efforts in the classroom.

#10 – Consider Joining a Study Group

Social learners should consider forming a study group. Study groups help you to remember and learn more effectively because you can ask questions to clarify difficult points. You also get the added advantage of discovering how others learned a subject or solved a problem.

One of the best benefits of joining a study group is that you will be able to ask, discuss, debate , and quiz each other on the topics at hand. You could even keep your study group online if traveling to one spot won’t work well for everyone.

In order to find study groups that will work for your needs; find people as dedicated as you are. You don’t want to study with a group that isn’t devoted and willing to work hard.

The study group's numbers shouldn’t be too big, or else it becomes more of a party. Having around 6 people in a group allows you all to benefit without it becoming distracting and counter-productive.

Study groups of college students

Exchange contact details or establish a means of communicating and decide on a location to host your study group. You will have to organize the group to fit everyone’s schedule to get the most benefit.

The most important thing is creating the logistics of the group – you meet up at the same place and have a reliable schedule. You should also determine how you’re going to communicate (you could use Slack, Whatsapp, etc) this keeps everyone in the loop and makes it easier to meet up.

The best study groups are not a competition. Some members of the group might pick up things faster than others, but this is an opportunity to demonstrate your own learning and fill in any gaps in your knowledge.

#11 – Ask for Help

There are plenty of resources available for anyone who might be stuck. It’s never a bad idea to ask for help and assistance and make the most out of the resources that are there to provide it.

Professors are usually more than willing to help any student who is struggling with a topic ( as it shows an honest effort to learn what they’re teaching). They can also help to explain a subject in a different light if your notes aren’t making sense.

You can also leverage the help of a tutor if you’re struggling with a specific topic. A tutor can help you in a one-to-one setting – which is especially valuable as they can cater the topic you’re struggling with to your learning style.

#12 – Get Enough Sleep and Rest

Studying when you’re sleepy is ineffective. If your body is telling you that you’re tired, then have a nap or go to bed early.

A good night’s sleep will help you understand and remember information better. It is also much less stressful to take an exam or attend a class when you feel well rested and alert.

If you’re finding that you are getting stressed out or tired, reflect back on your study schedule and priorities.

student sleeping in class | importance of good nights sleep to study and learning

Make sure that you have dedicated time for rest and de-stressing. You can’t be a study machine 24/7 and taking some time away from learning is a great way to relax your mind.

Good study habits require you to be fresh and sharp. A good night's sleep is far more effective than a night cramming for a test could ever be.

If you want some handy tips this guide will cover 17 healthy ways to fall asleep earlier .

#13 – Create a Daily Study Timetable

Make sure you track your grades along with your study hours and lesson notes to see if your new studying techniques are helping.

If you find that it is not helpful, then it’s time to re-prioritize your schedule to fit in more time for studying and re-examine your goals for success:

  • Remember that throughout school, work and life, you will always need to be learning something.
  • When you have set up the proper studying techniques and note-taking skills, you are giving yourself one of the greatest gifts possible, the ability to learn.
  • Don’t burn yourself out studying too hard all of the time. It’s important to find a little time to relax, as being too stressed can negatively impact your learning.
  • Don’t forget to play to your strengths, and explore different methods of learning if one thing isn’t working for you. The most important thing is to never give up.

Final Thoughts on Good Study Habits

You can use your morning routine to set yourself up for success in your learning efforts. When you start applying and practicing your study habits you will see a big difference in the quality of your learning.

Take a look at this study plan schedule strategy if you want to beat procrastination and make any learning project much easier.

Looking for more ways to improve your learning ability? Here's our post on how to learn anything fast!

Finally, if you want a PROVEN method to mastering your next test, then take this short masterclass on how to study for exams and getting excellent grades .

A good study routine can help you learn how to study effectively and build good 11 Good Study Habits for Students

25 thoughts on “13 Effective Study Habit Examples: Improve Your Study Routine”

Reading this post I noticed some underlying principles, useful in developing good habits in any area: -know thyself -break your goals into disciplines -focus -take a proper care of your body -track your results and tune your methods

Hi SJ – good stuff, as usual. thanks for the post.

I am a big fan of having a good study routine. Personally, it was one of those little things that have made a big difference, not only to my grades when I was a student, but also later in my life.

In my opinion, the key to success is also to keep the motivation up and focus on intrinsic rewards (rather than extrinsic): the road to mastery, your purpose/mission and achieving the milestones toward your big goal. Tracking your progress is a great way of keeping the focus on your intrinsic motivation.

I just wanted to add one more thing to the section on creating a study routine: make it enjoyable. How? set it up the way you can look forward to it. For instance, I do it in the morning, before my family gets up: and it’s my best time of the day (peak productivity), my ‘me time’, my favorite cup of coffee, and I really enjoy it. I still get up at 5.15am, even though I’m not at the uni anymore. I always find something to learn – I’ve done many MOOCs, and other courses. I don’t HAVE to, but I do it for the joy of learning.

SJ, love your books. Could I get the contact info for your designer (I’ve heard you’re willing to share that.). Also, I do a podcast for traders with about 20,000 listeners and would love to interview you about “waking up happy” and morning routines sometime.

My contact info is rob at robbooker.com

First of all, I would love to do your podcast. It is an honor. Shoot me an email at stevescottsite AT gmail DOT com and we will set up a time that is good for both of us.

Re: Cover Designer: The person I use is Kyle. He charges around $150 for a cover design. If you’d like to use a certain graphic, then you’d need to purchase it off a website (I use iStockPhoto.com for this.) What Kyle provides is the basic, “Kindle-Ready” cover. That means if you need the design converted to a paperback version, that’s something he charges extra for.

This is a great post SJ!

Habit 1 resonated with me so much and because it is very true that each of us have his or her own comfortable learning style. I remember back in high school and college, I used to study for major exams just after midnight. I will eat early and make sure to be in bed by 6 or 7PM. I will sleep until 12AM to 1AM and then get up and study with a cup of coffee right by my side. I love the tranquility of those hours. Place is quiet, except for the sound of barking dogs so I was able to focus.

Thanks for sharing!

That is an interesting way of studying. I also love that quite time when no one is awake. It really is a good time to get things done!

What’s the name of your editor? Can you provide a link? I assume he or she is on elance

I am writing these comments a few dozen times, Idk why but the commenst plugin doesnt approve my website? About the goal topic, I want to add that there is a book titled Goal suck and James Altucher says goals will fail you when themes will help you succeed.

Sorry, comment was sitting in my “approve” queue. Once and a while it wordpress drops people in there, even though they have had approved comments before. I will shoot you an email with editor info shortly.

Goals suck. That is a Matt Stone book. I know that guy. I agree, mostly. Goals are essential and vital, IMO. But spending too much time focused on goals and not enough on doing is a recipe for failure. Like many other things moderation is the key to using them with success.

This is nice and effective post SJ. Thanks a lot.I love to learn and again thanks for the precious 11 study habits.Thanks!!!

I am really very thankful to you for such 11tips for studies.

What are some of the benefits of having a good study timetable and a good time schedule?

Yes, I agree. I’m studying for a public tender in my country. Ihaven’t girlfriend, for I need time. Will be do I doing the right thing? I need help you all. It’s not nice to live without a partner, but i’m trying the impossible. Am I toward the right way? This is my doubt.

See you!!!!!!!

I think it is best to always work on yourself first. The women will come in time, and it is a lot easier to get/keep them with a good job.

I really liked this article, it was really refreshing! You did a great job writing it, and I can tell you did your research. All of these tips have the potential to help you utilize your study time better. However, it is a good idea to try various things until you hit on the exact combination of factors that allow you to develop good study habits and ultimate success in your future.

Good information. I’ve written an article about effective study habits. The techniques of an effective way of studying the lessons are based on cognitive science studies. Maybe the article can add to the information you have here. If you want you can visit http://psychlens.com/effective-study-habits/ . Thanks a lot for sharing this wonderful piece of information.

-Some info that I found helpful, was to not eat a big meal before studying, because it will cause you not to focus. -Something that I will do this year, is use study habits that work for me/I like. For ex: I like visual studying/videos. -a tip of my own, is to use flash cards.

wow this is amazing, things i took for granted or less important are things that are helpful, it changed my mentality toward reading, this is great, thanks for the tips.

I am not good at study and you written a long essay , if I good at study why should i searched for good such kind of tips looking such tips which change my life towards study , please give some good and interactive tips which really helps .

Regards, AJ

Very well written and useful. I like how you distinguish different ways for people because we all are very different.

‘As you can see, visual learners learn best when pictures, images, and spatial understanding is used. Auditory learners prefer using music, sounds or both. Kinesthetic learners prefer a more physical style of learning through using the body, sense of touch and hands. Logical learners desire to use reasoning, logic and systems. Verbal learners will prefer using words in writing and speech. Social learners will prefer to learn with other people or in groups. Solitary learners are able to learn best alone.’ That’s thoughtful.

Thanks for explaining these 7 types of learning to us. Each student will have different statistics. of learning. But the only thing depends is how you learn and effectively implement the same in your learning. One must isolate yourself from all your distractions. One must not waste time too much. And also one must find the best time to study. You gave nice tips.

Wonderful post. These habits are ones that all of us should use but we sometimes forget in the rush of every day work. A great list to keep nearby and remind yourself to slow down and pay attention. Thanks.

Wow! Really great post. The 4th one is really important. When I was a kid, I used to study continuously but after sometimes this is quite difficult for me to remember anything. That’s why I love Pomodoro technique. Study for a while and take 5-10 minute rest.

You also discussed study zone and style of learning. This really important because a learning environment can help us to learn quickly as well as effectively.

Thanks for Sharing!

SJ, I genuinely liked this one. very interesting and of course knowledgeable too.. thank you so much as i am a bit (not a bit ,very very much) lazy . it was good though

keep motivating!!!!!!!!!!!

It’s actually very difficult in this active life to listen news on Television, thus I just use internet for that reason, and get the most recent information.

Comments are closed.

College Info Geek

How to Build Good Study Habits: 5 Areas to Focus On

good study habits l

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good study habits l

Growing up, I learned the importance of good study habits early.

I was responsible for writing down my homework assignments each day, checking I had all the right books the night before school, and making flashcards to study spelling or vocab words. If I didn’t stay diligent in these study habits, then I was bound to hear about it from my mom.

Establishing good study habits at an early age paid off. In high school and college, I was able to focus on learning the material instead of learning how to study. I never got bad grades because I forgot to turn in homework, and if I ever did poorly on a test I had no one to blame but myself.

However, I recognize that not everyone has the benefit of learning good study habits early in life. For many people, college is the first time you even have to think about how to study and manage a schedule all on your own.

To bridge the gap, I’ve put together the following guide to good study habits. First, we’ll look at what good study habits are and why they matter. Then, we’ll give some practical examples of good study habits in action (and how they can solve some common academic issues).

What Is a Good Study Habit?

Before we go any further, we need to define what a good study habit is. To start, we should define “habit”.

A habit is an action (or series of actions) that you perform automatically in response to a particular cue. For instance, the sound of your alarm going off might cue the habit of getting out of bed and walking into the kitchen to make coffee (or, for some of us, hitting the snooze button).

But what makes a habit “good”? Generally, we define a good habit as one that helps you achieve your goals and live in line with your values . A bad habit, meanwhile, is detrimental to your goals and values in the long-term (even if it relieves pain or provides pleasure in the short-term).

A good study habit, then, is a habit that helps you achieve your academic objectives while still supporting your broader goals and values.

3 Reasons Good Study Habits Matter

Good study habits matter for three main reasons: focus, grades, and mental health.

Starting with focus, having the right study habits in place frees up your mind to concentrate on the material you’re learning.

Instead of having to think about how to create flashcards, for example, you can focus on using flashcards to learn a new language .

If your study techniques aren’t automatic, meanwhile, they can distract you from the larger work you’re trying to do.

While good study habits won’t automatically raise your GPA , they’ll certainly improve your chances.

As an example, you’re likely to perform better on an exam if you’re in the habit of studying for it over several days (or weeks) instead of the night before.

Mental Health

Most important of all, however, is the benefit good study habits have for your mental health.

No matter how much “raw intelligence” you might have, poor study habits will make college stressful and anxious.

If you aren’t in the habit of starting research papers well in advance, for instance, then you’ll be in for some sleepless, caffeine-fueled nights. But if you habitually start your research papers early, then you can avoid the unnecessary stress that comes from procrastination.

5 Types of Good Study Habits (and How to Build Them)

Originally, this section was going to contain a long list of good study habits. But since we already have an extensive list of study tips , many of which are specific study habits, I decided to do something different.

Instead of listing yet more study tips, I’m going to examine some common college academic struggles that good study habits can help eliminate or avoid. This way, you can get some practical tips for building good study habits and putting them into action.

This section focuses on how to build good study habits, specifically. For a more general overview of how to build good habits, read this .

Study Habits for Doing Better on Exams

Are your exam grades lower than you’d like? If so, your study habits could be the culprit.

When it comes to studying for exams effectively, here are some habits to keep in mind:

Go to Review Sessions

Usually, your professor and/or TA will hold a review session before each exam. This review will only be helpful, however, if you attend it. Therefore, make a habit of going to any scheduled exam review sessions, especially in classes you find difficult.

How to build the habit: This is one of the easier habits on this list to build. All you have to do is put the review session on your calendar and then be sure you go to it. To make this easier, pay attention in class for any announcements of review sessions.

Make and Study Flashcards

If you’re studying for an exam that requires you to memorize lots of information, then flashcards are your friend. In particular, building a habit of daily flashcard review leading up to an exam can help your performance greatly.

How to build the habit: First, be sure you understand the best ways to make and study flashcards .

From there, we recommend using a flashcard app that reminds you to study the cards each day (and focuses your efforts on the cards you struggle with). This is a case where notifications on your phone can be a study aid instead of a distraction.

Study Habits for Writing Better Papers

No matter your major, you’ll have to write a paper at some point in college. And having the right study habits will make the process much easier and less stressful. Here are some study habits that will help you write better papers:

Don’t Procrastinate on Writing

I won’t deny it: I pulled my share of all-nighters in college. And usually, I was staying up late to finish a paper I’d procrastinated on.

While you can certainly write a paper in one night, it’s unlikely to be your best work. Instead, make it a habit to work on your paper a little bit each day in the week before the due date.

How to build the habit: If you’re struggling with procrastination, then read into the science behind why we do it .

From there, consider the stress and pain that will come from writing a paper in one night. Use that as motivation to work on your paper a little bit at a time.

Once you’ve done this for one paper and seen how much better it makes your life, you’ll be more inclined to do it with future papers.

Visit the Writing Center

While procrastination is a common issue with writing papers, you may also struggle with the writing itself. Depending on where you went to high school, in fact, you might never have learned how to write the kind of papers college requires.

If this is the case, get in the habit of visiting your college’s writing center when you’re working on a paper. The staff there would be more than happy to help you improve your writing.

How to build the habit: Going to the writing center is a fairly easy habit to build if you schedule your writing center appointments in advance.

This should be possible at most colleges, and it’s often required during high-demand times such as finals season. Making an appointment in advance adds some external accountability, so you’re more likely to show up.

For more paper writing tips, read this .

Study Habits for Completing Homework Faster

Homework is important for practicing and solidifying the concepts your professor discusses in lectures, but that doesn’t mean you should spend all your time outside of class doing it.

Here are some study habits to help you complete your homework faster, without sacrificing quality:

Schedule Your Homework Time

If you can fit all of your homework into a defined block each day, it will be much easier to get started on it. Plus, knowing that you only have to spend a defined amount of time working will reduce the dread that generally accompanies homework.

How to build the habit: First, find a time each day that’s free of obligations. Evenings will work well for some, while mornings are better for others; it depends on your schedule.

Then, put that block of time on your calendar with the title “Homework Time.” If you like, you can also break that block down into smaller chunks for each of the courses you’re taking.

Next, decide on a study space where you’ll do your homework: dorm room, library, student center, etc. Note that location on your calendar as well.

Finally, treat this block of study time like any other class, meeting, or appointment. If someone tries to schedule something during that time, tell them you already have an obligation.

Focus Completely On Your Work

You’ll get your homework done much faster if you only focus on the assignment at hand. But if you’re checking social media and your phone as your work, the process will take longer overall.

To avoid this issue, make a habit of distraction-free homework. When you’re working on homework, let nothing else fragment your attention.

How to build the habit: First, turn off your phone and put it away. If you can’t do that, then at least take some steps to make it less distracting .

Next, try to work without an internet connection whenever possible. If that isn’t practical, then use an app like Freedom to block distracting sites and apps.

If that still isn’t enough, then you can also try the Pomodoro technique .

Study Habits for Being Less Stressed

As I mentioned earlier, one of the main advantages of good study habits is reduced levels of stress.

Some study habits, in particular, are great at making the studying process less stressful. Here are a couple to try:

Use the Fudge Ratio

Due to something called the planning fallacy , humans are terrible at estimating how long things will take. The fudge ratio is a solution to this problem. It helps you create more accurate time estimates for tasks, using a simple formula that we’ll explain below.

Applying the fudge ratio to your studies will help you be less stressed since you’ll be in the habit of planning more time than you need to do assignments. If you get done early, then you’ll get a great sense of accomplishment. But if something takes the full time you “fudged,” then you won’t be caught off guard.

How to build the habit: To work the fudge ratio into your planning, you’ll need to keep track of how long you think tasks take vs. how long they truly take. Record these numbers somewhere you can review them regularly. For an accurate measure of how long tasks actually take, you can use time-tracking software .

Once you’ve done this for a bit, you can then compare your estimated times to your actual completion times. This will allow you to calculate a literal ratio that you can use to make future time estimates.

To calculate the fudge ratio for a task, use this formula:

Estimated completion time / Actual completion time = Fudge ratio

For instance, if you think it will take you 30 minutes to finish your Intro to Sociology reading but it actually takes you 45, then your fudge ratio for these reading assignments is 45/30 = 1.5. Now, you know that whenever you’re estimating how long reading will take for this class, you should multiply your estimate by 1.5.

Doing this for each class and assignment can be time-consuming. But with time, using the fudge ratio will help you get into the habit of making better time estimates overall. Eventually, you won’t need to do the tracking and math described here.

Not all classes are created equal. Sure, each instructor thinks their class is the most important on your schedule, but we all know that isn’t true. Some classes require more time and effort than others, and how you study should reflect that.

Specifically, you’ll be much less stressed if you prioritize studying the subjects that take the most work.

How to build the habit: During the first couple weeks of the semester, pay attention to how much work each class on your schedule will require. From there, you can decide where to prioritize your attention.

Then, spend most of your study time on the most difficult classes. Of course, you’ll still need to spend some time on your easier classes, but not nearly as much. Doing this will give you more free time and reduce your general stress levels.

Study Habits for the Forgetful

For our final area of habits, we turn to the pernicious problem of forgetting. Whether you’re having trouble remembering homework assignments or even showing up for class, these habits will help.

Keep a List of Your Assignments

If you’re having trouble remembering your assignments, then build the habit of keeping them on a list. This is a classic piece of advice. But if you put it into practice, it can change your life.

How to build the habit: First, decide where you’ll write down your assignments. We’re a big fan of to-do list apps for this purpose. But you could also go analog and use a paper planner. Just make sure it’s something you can easily carry with you to class.

Then, write down assignments as the professor gives them. In many cases, of course, the professor will expect you to refer to the syllabus for homework assignments. So be sure to review your syllabus each week (and bring a copy to class so you can note any changes).

Finally, review your list of assignments at the start of each homework session. As you complete an assignment, cross or check it off the list. With this habit in place, you’ll be much less likely to forget assignments.

Put Your Classes on Your Calendar

Unlike in high school, where your schedule is regimented and closely supervised, college offers more independence. While this can be exciting, it also means greater responsibility. And one of the first responsibilities you’ll face as a college student is showing up for class at the right time.

While simple in theory, it can be challenging to remember the time and location of all of your classes. Especially during the first couple weeks of class. To ensure you don’t forget when and where your classes are, put them on your calendar.

How to build the habit: Leading up to the first week of school, go online and consult the syllabus for each of your classes.

Note the class times and locations, and put that information on your calendar in recurring events. Make sure your calendar is set up to send you event notifications on your phone, and you should be able to remember each class no problem.

With time, of course, you’re likely to memorize you schedule and won’t need to consult the calendar. But having your classes on your calendar will still be helpful for planning, ensuring you don’t schedule a meeting or other event during a class.

If you’ve never set up a digital calendar, check out this guide to using your calendar efficiently in college .

Good Study Habits Aren’t Built in a Day

I hope this article has shown you the importance of good study habits, as well as how to start making them a part of your academic life.

As with any new habit, forming good study habits takes time and focus. For greater odds of success, work on forming one or two of these habits at a time. When they’re a solid part of your routine, you can add new ones.

Habit formation is such a vast topic, there was no way we could cover all the details in one article. For a deep dive into building habits that last, check out our habit-building course:

Building habits isn’t just about discipline; there are real-world steps you can take to set yourself up for success! In this course, you'll learn how to set realistic goals, handle failure without giving up, and get going on the habits you want in your life.

Take My Free Class on Mastering Habits

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How to build strong study habits

Here's your chance to become a master of studying! Benefit from our complete guide to building strong study habits that will last a lifetime.

How to build strong study habits

If your habits don't line up with your dream, then you need to either change your habits or change your dream ― John C. Maxwell

Like college students in the midst of their first bad hangover, we swear we’ll never, ever wait to cram at the last moment again. It's the perennial complaint of students everywhere: “...if only I’d started studying sooner, then I wouldn’t be in this mess!”

Well, I have good news for you. Studying effectively doesn't have to be hard!

The secret is building strong study habits .

Habits are grooves carved into your brain’s neural network that eventually become hard-wired, like tracks for a train to run on. Once studying becomes a habit, instead of your brain trudging along muddy hillocky paths, pushing aside thorny bushes and stepping in cowpats, you glide along smooth rails, getting your study done easily so you can go out and play.

In fact, studies have shown that once an action becomes habitual it takes far less effort for your brain to accomplish it. (Which would FINALLY help you keep your New Year's resolutions! )

A train in the country side

Sounds great, right?

Well, it is great. Once you’ve made studying daily a rock-solid habit, you’ll reap the rewards. Daily practice plays to your memory’s strengths, so you’ll be able to get knowledge solidly into your brain with less effort.

However, there are a series of enemies blocking your path: (1) social expectations, aka FOMO ; (2) the desire to save brainpower ; (3) procrastination ; and (4) instant gratification .

If you want to become a study master and cruise smoothly through each study session, you will need to disarm these enemies and use their weapons against them.

We've given you 11 tips on how to do that:

  • Anchor new habits to old ones
  • Start one micro-habit at a time
  • Keep the chain going
  • Bribe yourself to study
  • Discover your best time to study
  • Use peer pressure to study better
  • Combat the forces of FOMO
  • Be unapologetic about studying
  • Give yourself consequences
  • Sort out your study environment
  • The hidden benefits of daily study habits

Are you ready to enter the dojo and build strong daily study habits? Then welcome, young padawan. It’s time to learn the ways of the study master.

Psst. Improve your mental and physical well-being with these small life-changing habits that take ZERO time ! Also, did you know you can use the Brainscape app to achieve your personal growth goals —like improving your health, wealth, mindset, emotional intelligence, etc.?

Two warriors

1. The enemies of good study habits

The secret to improving study motivation and building good study habits is to realize it’s a game of two halves—you must play both offense and defense. This means you need to both defend against distractions and set your mind to do the work.

Think of your brain as a sort of council. There is more than one politician in Congress, and not all of them have your long-term interests at heart. Sometimes the long-term planner (the frontal cortex) wins the vote, and you go and do things that are hard but will give you rewards later.

Many other times, however, the more ancient, less evolved parts of your brain win the day. This is when the lizard brain or limbic system takes over. These areas respond well to crises—but when there’s no emergency, they seek pleasure.

This is the part that’s in control when, instead of studying, you do whatever is easy and gives you a reward straight away. Think watching Netflix, playing beer pong, napping, surfing the net, shopping, or eating ice-cream.

The issue is that for most people, their frontal cortex has a minority government; It doesn’t have all that much pull. And both inside and outside the brain, the forces arrayed against it are multitudinous.

Girl that is bouldering

So now, you’re about to learn which obstacles are in the way of building your study habits and how to defeat them . Let’s get started ...

1.1. Social expectations, aka FOMO

This one is huge, especially if you’re engaged in campus life. The pull to skip studying and do fun things with your friends can be really strong.

Continually resisting temptation puts a heavy load on your willpower.

Many of the best-laid study plans are derailed by some random invitation that spirals into a whole day of distraction. Socializing is important. But there’s a way to prioritize your study so it gets done, and you can still have guilt-free outings with your friends.

1.2. The desire to save brainpower

The brain is an energy hungry organ . It’s only 2% of your body weight, but even when you’re resting, it demands 20% of your energy.

Thinking, studying, learning—all of these take up brain space. Normally, we prefer to conserve this energy, so it’s a natural thing for us to avoid tasks that are going to exhaust us mentally.

This is why you need systems to get you through the hardest part: actually sitting down to do study. Because this avoidance of spending brain energy leads to ...

1.3. Procrastination

A test that’s weeks or months away doesn’t feel urgent. As the test looms closer, however, it’s amazing how many people end up with spotlessly clean kitchens, perfectly ordered sock drawers, and crisply cut lawns.

This is a wonderful tactic to feel productive by getting everything else done… except for studying.

What’s at work here is a phenomenon called delay discounting . Researchers have found that humans prefer a small reward delivered in the near future over a larger reward they have to wait for. It’s a variation on avoiding delayed gratification.

The ancient parts of your brain HATE spending valuable brain energy on things that are not either a clear and present danger or a pleasurable escape. Back in the days when we were part of the food chain, humans needed their brains to stay focused on urgent problems, like staying alive.

Precious brain juice wasn’t spent on contemplating why apples fell off trees or other non-urgent problems. This urge to prioritize only urgent tasks is still very much alive in us all.

Our brains are very skilled at bringing up seemingly urgent tasks to do instead of hard mental work. Hence the emergence of the spotless fridge and ironed boxer shorts during study week.

1.4. Instant gratification

As mentioned before the ancient, emotion-driven limbic system in our brains craves instant rewards.

In the 1960s, a Stanford professor named Walter Mischel conducted a series of experiments designed to test four-year-old children to their furthest limits.

Mischel put a marshmallow on a table in front of a kid and said they could eat the marshmallow now. Or they could eat two marshmallows if they didn’t eat the marshmallow while he left the room.

Mischel then left the room, leaving a marshmallow sitting in front of a deeply conflicted four-year-old.

This now-famous test became known as the Marshmallow Experiment . While tormenting children for science was entertaining (some children had to scoot their chairs over to the corner, face the wall, and sit on their hands to avoid eating the marshmallow) what was most interesting was the aftermath.

For the next forty years, Mischel followed his participants’ lives. He and other researchers found that the kids who passed the Marshmallow Experiment and could delay gratification had higher SAT scores , better health , and happier relationships .

It turns out that the ability to delay gratification is a key part of living a good life . Those who will do something hard in order to experience rewards not now, but in the future, succeed in their endeavors.

The issue here is that you’re not a four-year-old child who has to wait five minutes for two marshmallows. (Although to be fair, when you’re four years old, five minutes is a lifetime.)

Navigating life when you’re a student or working means constant pressure from conflicting obligations. You’ll have to make myriad decisions throughout each day. You’ll be resisting temptations, juggling priorities, and managing your energy.

Each time you put off something easy in order to do something hard, you’re using your willpower. It turns out that willpower is a limited resource and gets exhausted the more you use it.

That’s why if you try to do study daily on an ad hoc basis, it’s much more likely to not get done. Then you end up like everyone else: only studying when a test is looming closer, under the tyranny of an impending deadline.

Cramming is an ineffective way to study, which is why (as you’ll find out soon) distraction is an enemy you will need to vanquish to build strong study habits.

2. Strong study habit tips to defeat your enemies

Knight lying down in defeat

As you may have figured out by now, the phrase "strong study habits" is basically synonymous with "developing the willpower to do a little bit of work every day because the alternative -- cramming -- is less effective and even more time-consuming in the long run."

The importance of this realization cannot be underestimated. You can even think of habit formation in terms of this popular mathematical equation:

Math equation that shows strong study habits pay off

In other words, doing just a little bit of extra effort every day (no exceptions!) for an entire year will exponentially increase your performance, while slacking off every day will erode your performance or knowledge toward nearly zero, such that you have to start again from scratch (e.g. "cramming") at the last minute.

The good news is that you can fundamentally hack your brain to develop these consistent daily study habits to the point that they become almost effortless.

Below is our list of various forms of mental jiu-jitsu that can help you turn study foes’ weapons against them.

[Try this hack: ' How the benefits of cold showers can change your life ']

Tip 1. Anchor new habits to old ones

Rope tied in a knot

As we mentioned above, our brains don’t like to expend lots of energy on hard mental work. But when something becomes a habit, it doesn’t take energy or willpower; you do the thing on autopilot.

The easiest way to make a new habit is to tie it into an existing habit that is already established (otherwise known as an anchor habit.)

For example, if you study better in the morning, then bring out your notes and do your study session while you have your first coffee of the day. The first coffee is your anchor habit, and study is the new habit you’re attaching to it. Quite quickly, you’ll see that studying also becomes automatic.

If evenings are your chosen study time, then build your habit on something you do every evening. For example, you could spend an hour studying every night after dinner, or you could work through your notes before you go to bed each night. Or you could use the Feynman Technique while you’re out walking, exercising, or commuting.

When you tie your new habit with an existing habit, you’re taking advantage of neural pathways that have been already laid down. With consistent practice, your new study habit should start to feel effortless in a couple of weeks.

Tip 2. Start one micro-habit at a time

Workers building a wall

One of the best ways to guarantee that your new habit won't stick is to take on too big of a challenge at once. So let's nip that one in the bud before we continue.

If your goal is to study every day instead of waiting until the last minute, don't start by promising yourself that you'll study for two hours a day or re-read 5 textbook chapters at a time. That can feel so daunting that you'll end up quitting the first time a major wave of inertia hits you.

Instead, maybe just commit to studying one 10-flashcard round in Brainscape every day, or to making digital flashcards for just one small textbook lesson every day. As long as you have broken up your studying into bite-sized milestones, it will be much easier to develop these habits and stay motivated to study .

Admittedly, tiny daily study sessions might not initially be enough to totally prevent your needing to cram more at the last minute. But at least you're establishing real habits, and you can always add to your goals once your small starter goals have begun to stick.

Tip 3. Keep the chain going

Strong chain to develop strong study habits

Another hack for building strong study habits comes from comedian Jerry Seinfeld. For years, Seinfeld would write a joke every day, no matter what was going on in his life. After many days, this chain of daily practice became its own incentive.

The threat of breaking the chain contributed to his motivation: Seinfeld didn’t want to break the chain, so he continued writing a joke every day. The habit stuck.

You can use apps like Don’t Break the Chain or Done to create a chain for your daily study habit OR you can very simply set study reminders in Brainscape! Go into the menu in the mobile app, select 'Notifications', and then toggle on 'Streak Reminders'. Those will show up as push notifications on your phone’s home screen, reminding you to stop what you’re doing and put in a quick study round with Brainscape. You can also customize the time of day you’d prefer to receive your reminders!

Tip 4. Bribe yourself to study

A handshake

You now know there are deep and powerful parts of your brain that crave instant gratification. They are not moved by distant lofty goals. They want something yummy now.

So, use this to your advantage. The idea is to train your brain like it’s one of Pavlov’s dogs.

In his foundational experiment, Pavlov was able to connect two stimuli in a dog’s brain : the ringing of a bell, and a bowl of delicious dog food.

By the end of Pavlov’s experiment, the connection between the sound of the bell and a meal was so strong, his dogs would start to salivate when they heard the bell.

You need to make a connection between sitting down to study, and something your brain really likes.

It’s time to train your brain with gratification.

Every time you sit down do study, give yourself a treat. Whatever floats your particular boat: whether it’s chocolate, gummy bears, or your favorite TV show. Naked and Afraid anyone? Once you've studied at least 10-15 minutes (of Brainscape flashcards :), give yourself the treat.

Pretty soon, your brain will start to look forward to your study sessions, because you’ll have connected the positive experience (the treat) with studying.

Congratulations! You have created a neural connection in your brain to tie studying together with gummy bears. Science has been achieved.

Tip 5. Discover your best time to study

Many black and white clocks

To build strong habits, it’s very important to study at the same time each day whenever possible. We’re cyclical creatures, and keeping your study schedule regular will cement the habit much more strongly than shifting it around each day.

So when should you study? Are you a morning lark or a night owl ?

Do you feel sharp at 11 am or 7 pm? Do you fade after lunch? Perk up after dinner? Maybe you’re one of those rare birds who wake up at 6 am bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, ready to go...

Everyone has a circadian cycle of sleep and wakefulness. Paying attention to this cycle means you can go to study at times when your energy is optimal. To discover your cycle, spend a week observing yourself ( or read this article ). Look for the times of day or night when you are at your best and able to tackle difficult mental tasks.

Take note of how the time you go to bed affects how you feel in the morning. This is important. Your circadian rhythm means you can get the same eight hours of sleep, but how rested you feel depends a lot on when during the night you took your rest.

Some people can go to bed at midnight and feel great the next day. Others need to go to bed before 10 pm to get a really good night’s sleep. Once you’ve worked out when you function best, note down those times. Use this knowledge to decide when is the best time for you to study .

Tip 6. Use peer pressure to study better

Peer pressure is a powerful force. It makes people do strange things, like wear clothes with brand logos on them or buy $30 drinks at bars.

A variant of this force is one of Professor Robert Cialdini’s six powerful elements of human persuasion . It’s called consistency, and you can use it to persuade yourself into good habits.

Here’s how consistency works. As human beings, we like to appear to be consistent to our fellow humans. So if we tell everyone “I’m a party animal, and the only time I ever study is on the night before a test,” a precedent has been set.

To appear consistent with your peers, you can’t be found going over your lecture notes on a mid-term Wednesday evening.

However, if you tell all your friends about the wonders of studying every day, then you have a different kind of reputation to uphold.

Most people will expend far more effort to avoid embarrassment than they will to achieve a distant goal. So use this knowledge to create social pressure in support of the habits that will make you succeed in life.

Embrace your inner nerd , and ‘own’ the fact that you geek out at a set time each day. Anyone who makes fun of you will find the tables turned during finals week, when they’re frantically trying to cram, and you’re relaxed and confident with plenty of time for leisure.

Spaced repetition vs cramming

After a few months of daily studying, you’ll find your habits become a part of your identity. Once you see yourself as someone who studies every day, you’ve truly won the battle and created strong study habits.

Tip 7. Combat the forces of FOMO

Two broken phones

Always turn your phone and social media notifications OFF when you start your study time. Apps like Freedom and StayFocusd can do this for you on a laptop. Ignorance is the best cure for FOMO—if you don’t know about the other things you could be doing, you can’t be distracted by them.

Tip 8. Be unapologetic about studying

Another way to avoid social pressure is to be unapologetic about how you spend your time. Don’t give an explanation, and people won’t press you.

For example, if someone asks you to hang out during your study time, just say "Nope, I have to study." They don't have to know that your test isn't for another 6 weeks.

Tip 9. Give yourself consequences

Statue of a dog in the grass

Last, if you have someone who wants to join your daily study regime, use the power of aversion to cement your study habit.

This is because while rewards are good, bad consequences are an even more powerful way to create habits. Studies show people will go further to avoid pain than gain pleasure .

With your study partner, create awful consequences if you don’t follow through on your daily study. Keep each other accountable, and be ready to enforce the payout if they don’t keep up their side of the bargain. (And be ready to suffer the consequences if you don’t.)

Using a service like Stickk , people have been forced to donate money to their least favorite charity when they don’t complete their goals. Other sites will publish photos of the person naked if they don’t stick to their weight loss goals (whatever gets the job done, right?). You’d better believe that with stakes like that in the game, participants stick to their goals, and so will you.

Tip 10. Sort out your study environment

Organized workspace for the best study habits

The last key to creating a rock-solid study habit is controlling your environment. Set reminders for you to start your daily study session. Create a special area dedicated to study, with all the things you’ll need to do the work close at hand.

Put up a calendar so you can see how each day brings you closer to your exam. Use this same calendar to keep track of your chain of daily study sessions.

Make it "convenient" to study often. Keep your books and notes in a place where you can easily and frequently access them. Have your flashcard app on your phone's home screen and in your web browser's "Favorites" bar, so you don’t have to think about what to do first in your study session.

Building a strong study habit is very similar to getting fit. As your brain gets into the habit of working each day at a set time, it gets fitter, and study sessions become more enjoyable.

Tip 11. The hidden benefits of daily study habits

When you defy the enemies of study and build your strong study habit, you’re also doing something else. Something very important. You’re building character.

'Character' has been defined as the ability to complete a task long after the mood in which the decision to do it has left you.

When you keep your promises to yourself, you’re sending yourself an important message about who you are, and what you’re capable of. In doing this, you’re laying the foundation for future success and happiness.

3. Build your study system

good study habits l

We’ve now gone through the two parts of building a strong study habit: defense and offense. It’s time to put it all together.

Here are the habits that go into building a study system that will work for you.

  • Choose an existing activity you habitually do at these times and tie it to your new study habit.
  • Keep the chain going—maintain a record of your daily sessions, and create an unbroken chain of them.
  • Decide on your study treat and bribe yourself with it at the start and end of your session.
  • Note the times of day when your brain is sharpest. Choose these as your designated study times.
  • Start celebrating your inner nerd. Spread the gospel of daily study to your friends to create a consistent character you have to live up to.
  • Push back against FOMO by turning off your phone and staying ignorant of what your friends are doing.
  • Be unapologetic when ducking out of social events in order to keep your study habit.
  • Choose your accountability partner, and decide on some (very unpleasant) consequences if you don’t follow through on your study plan.
  • Set up a special study space with everything you need.
  • Prep your study materials and Brainscape flashcards so the first few minutes of study can be done on autopilot
  • Study daily to build character

Building strong study habits is ultimately about respecting your long term goals. And if you need help breaking out of a fixed mindset and learning how to stick to the long road, roll with the punches, be a little more patient, and embrace the learning curve, definitely read: ' How to unlock a growth mindset '.

Remind yourself that studying is actually a way of honoring yourself and keeping your promises. Every time you keep your commitments, you’re building your willpower muscle, and this will help you throughout your entire life.

Ayduk, O., Mendoza-Denton, R., Mischel, W., Downey, G., Peake, P. K., & Rodriguez, M. (2000). Regulating the interpersonal self: Strategic self-regulation for coping with rejection sensitivity . Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79 (5), 776–792. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.79.5.776

Cialdini, R. (2016). Pre-suasion: A revolutionary way to influence and persuade. Simon & Schuster.

Doyle, J. R. (2013). Survey of time preference, delay discounting models . Judgment and Decision Making , 8 (2), 116-135.

Gardner, B., & Rebar, A. L. (2019). Habit formation and behavior change . In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Psychology .

Gailliot, M. T., Baumeister, R. F., DeWall, C. N., Maner, J. K., Plant, E. A., Tice, D. M., Brewer, L. E., & Schmeichel, B. J. (2007). Self-control relies on glucose as a limited energy source: Willpower is more than a metaphor . Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92 (2), 325–336. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.92.2.325

Jarius, S., & Wildemann, B. (2015). And Pavlov still rings a bell: Summarising the evidence for the use of a bell in Pavlov’s iconic experiments on classical conditioning. Journal of neurology , 262 (9), 2177-2178. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00415-015-7858-5

Mischel, W., Ayduk, O., Berman, M. G., Casey, B. J., Gotlib, I. H., Jonides, J., ... & Shoda, Y. (2011). ‘Willpower’ over the life span: Decomposing self-regulation. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience , 6 (2), 252-256.

Seeyave, D. M., Coleman, S., Appugliese, D., Corwyn, R. F., Bradley, R. H., Davidson, N. S., ... & Lumeng, J. C. (2009). Ability to delay gratification at age 4 years and risk of overweight at age 11 years. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine , 163 (4), 303-308.

Flashcards for serious learners .

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How to Develop Good Study Habits for College

Last Updated: June 21, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Ted Dorsey, MA . Ted Dorsey is a Test Prep Tutor, author, and founder of Tutor Ted, an SAT and ACT tutoring service based in Southern California. Ted earned a perfect score on the SAT (1600) and PSAT (240) in high school. Since then, he has earned perfect scores on the ACT (36), SAT Subject Test in Literature (800), and SAT Subject Test in Math Level 2 (800). He has a BA in English from Princeton University and a MA in Education from the University of California, Los Angeles. There are 8 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 816,372 times.

Effective studying is critical to success in college, and many new college students quickly find that their prior study habits need major adjustments. To begin making the change, find a quiet, organized space to study. Study with a positive attitude and specific goals in mind. If you need help, there's no shame in asking. Your professors and peers are there to help you learn. You can develop excellent habits that help you navigate the difficulties of college.

Getting Organized to Study

Step 1 Create a dedicated study space.

  • Pick a place that's quiet and distraction free. The basement of your dorm may not be a good choice if it's a common place for socializing, but you could instead study at your desk in your dorm room.

Step 2 Find a regular time for studying.

  • You can study during gaps between classes or in the evening after your classes are done for the day.
  • In addition to finding times that work, find times when you're naturally more energetic. If you tend to get sleepy in the afternoon, do something relaxing for yourself around two o'clock and schedule study time sometime after dinner.

Step 3 Organize your materials.

  • It can help to stop by a local office supplies store to get things like notebooks, pencil boxes, and other storage contraptions to keep yourself organized.

Step 4 Eliminate distractions.

  • Keep other distracting material, such as outside reading, away from your study area.
  • If you go out of your dorm or apartment to study, do not take anything potentially distracting. Stick to your school supplies only and leave things like your iPod at home. However, if you are studying in a noisy place, you may want to bring your headphones if music helps you focus.

Step 5 Figure out your needs via trial and error.

  • For example, study in your dorm one day and a coffee shop the next day. Take note of which place you feel the most relaxed and engaged and make a habit of studying there regularly.

Using Good Study Techniques

Step 1 Create one goal for each session.

  • For example, if you're studying for a math final, focus on one concept each day. You can study multiplication one day and things like division the next.
  • You can also set goals based on days of the week. Focus on your math and science courses on Mondays and Wednesdays and your humanities courses on Thursdays and Fridays, for example.

Step 2 Start with difficult material first.

  • For example, if you're really struggling understanding a concept for a philosophy class, study your notes and reading on that concept first. Then, you can move on to easier topics.

Step 3 Rewrite your notes....

  • For example, a well known memory device is Kings Play Cards On Flat Green Stools, used to help you remember the taxonomy order used to classify species (Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species).
  • You can also use visualization. For example, you're trying to remember Jeanette Rankin was the first woman to serve in Congress and you have an Aunt Jeanette. Picture your Aunt Jeanette talking on the floor of Congress to help you remember.

Step 5 Take breaks.

  • Set a timer to make sure you're on task. You don't want to study for too long, leading to frustration, or take a long break, which can ruin your concentration.

Step 6 Study with a positive attitude.

  • Studying can be stressful, and it's important to address and challenge stressful thoughts. For example, don't think, "I'm a mess. I'm never going to understand this." Instead think, "I'm sure if I work a little each day, I can figure out this material."

Step 7 Give yourself rewards.

  • For example, agree that if you study for three hours, you can go to the cafeteria and have something like ice cream or pizza for a treat.

Seeking Outside Resources

Step 1 Refer to your syllabus as needed.

  • For example, say you've been getting frustrated memorizing the years of major scientific breakthroughs for a science course. The syllabus says the goals of the course are to help you gain a better understanding of scientific theory. It's more important for you to understand the overarching theories than know the exact dates.

Step 2 Form a study group.

  • Choose the right peers. If your study group is made up of friends, studying may turn into socializing fast. Pick good students who are genuinely engaged in class.
  • Bounce off one another's strengths. If a classmate is confused on a subject you're skilled at, and does well in an area that confuses you, they would make a good partner. The two of you can help one another out.

Step 3 Go to your professors with questions.

  • Your professor's office hours should be stated on their green sheet, which they handed out at the beginning of the semester.
  • When e-mailing your professor, state your class day and time in the subject header. Professors often teach more than one class.

Step 4 Go to review sessions if they are offered.

  • If your teacher does not offer a review session, ask them if they are willing to do it. If enough students are interested in a review session, they may create one.

Step 5 Use a tutor.

  • Not all tutors advertise in the tutoring center on college campuses. Some tutors post their fliers on the school bulletin board, alongside other fliers for housing and textbook sales.
  • If you cannot find any tutors, ask your classmates. Some of them may be willing to help you before or after class, and not all of them will charge a fee.

Study Schedule Template

good study habits l

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  • ↑ https://usq.pressbooks.pub/academicsuccess/chapter/study-space/
  • ↑ https://www.ecpi.edu/blog/top-10-effective-study-habits-college-students
  • ↑ http://www.educationcorner.com/habits-of-successful-students.html
  • ↑ https://psychcentral.com/health/highly-effective-study-habits
  • ↑ https://psychcentral.com/health/highly-effective-study-habits#positive-study-habits
  • ↑ https://psychcentral.com/lib/top-10-most-effective-study-habits/
  • ↑ https://learningcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/changing-habits/
  • ↑ https://learningcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/study-partners/

About This Article

Ted Dorsey, MA

To develop good study habits for college, find a quiet, dedicated space and create a consistent study schedule for yourself. Make sure you have everything you need to study at your space and eliminate all distractions, like your smartphone, while you're reviewing your materials. Figure out what topics are most pressing before each study session and try to tackle the hardest stuff first to make the most efficient use of your time. For tips on forming an effective study group with your classmates, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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16 Study Tips for College: Building good study habits to succeed

College is an exciting and life-changing experience. It may be the first time you’ll be living on your own, and it’s a fantastic opportunity to make friends, meet new people, and learn about your interests both personally and professionally. However, adjusting to college life can be overwhelming – and figuring out a solid study routine is no exception! Take a look at these study tips for college to help you succeed.

How To Find the Most Effective Study Habits

16 study tips for college:, 1. organization is key, 2. plan ahead, 3. take good notes, 4. find a routine, 5. study with friends, 6. ask for help, 7. teach someone, 8. switch up your study spots, 9. eliminate distractions, 10. don’t cram, 11. memorize vs. understand, 12. review and reorganize your notes, 13. study smarter, not harder, 14. use the reward system, 15. take breaks, 16. be confident about your studies, now that you have a better understanding of these study tips for college, make sure your college writing stays in tip-top shape.

There’s no magic formula or set prescription for how to study effectively…every student is different! You might study well in a library, while your roommate studies better in his or her dorm room. The key is to try out different studying methods – including different study environments – to figure out what works best for YOU.

Student on computer

First, Focus on Preparation.

First and foremost, make sure you get a college planner. This can be a planner with a creative design, a plain notebook, a wall calendar, or even a small dry erase calendar for your desk that changes each month. A wall calendar or desk calendar is best for double-checking appointments, events, and due dates while a notebook planner of some sort will be best for planning on-the-go, wherever you are. This planner will keep you in check when you’re in class or in a meeting with your advisor. 

If digital works better for you (since you can sync it with just about anything – your computer, phone, tablet), think about setting up an agenda on your mobile device. You can set up reminders for test dates, department events, study times, and assignment due dates. Additionally, you can create a study outline on your device in something like Google Docs, Microsoft Word, or another digital format that works for you.

Create a study plan at the beginning of the semester based on your course syllabus. Ideally, you should study a little bit every day throughout the week —even just 20 minutes can make a huge difference—so you don’t wind up cramming and stressing out right before the big exam.

Studying starts in the classroom. Pay attention and take good notes , so when you’re studying later, you’re just reviewing information (instead of learning it for the first time). Speak with your professor about recording lectures on your phone. A recording can complement your notes so you can go back and re-listen to the information in case there are other details you pick up on later to note. Effective note-taking strategies can have a direct impact on your study habits and is one of the most important study tips for college.

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Getting yourself into a study routine is one of the best ways to make sure that studying becomes a part of your everyday habit. Figure out what time of day works best for you and make a real effort to dedicate that time to reviewing notes, videos, and other related resources.

Pick times during the week to try out your studying. You can try studying in the morning on one day, the afternoon another day, and in the evening if that works best for you when there are no distractions at the end of the night. Once you’ve decided which time works best for you, try to stick with that time of day every day (or at least 3 days a week) to get in the habit of studying consistently. You might wind up rearranging your routine due to extracurricular activities, time with friends, and other commitments, but be sure to prioritize your studies and get them done in one way or another.

Teamwork is Essential

Encouraging friends to study with you can make everything more fun and productive! Ask your classmates to study with you at a certain time and location. For example, you can ask your biology colleagues to study with you after class for an hour at the school cafe. You can set up your computers at a table together and grab some snacks and coffee to enjoy the time. 

The same goes for studying with your friends. If you’re not in a class with them, studying together in-person can help you hold each other accountable. When you make plans with friends, you don’t want to be that person who cancels or doesn’t show, right?

If you really don’t understand a concept, ask questions! Stop by your professors’ offices during their office hours, or contact classmates and professors via email. Some classes might even have a Facebook Group to keep students engaged and to create an environment to ask questions outside of class. Either way, your professors will be on your side – nonjudgmental, wanting to help you understand the class in its entirety.

Teaching a friend, family member, or even your pet the material is a great way to see how well you know it! When you explain it to someone else, you’ll have a better grasp of which information you already have mastered and which information you should revisit for yourself. 

You can create a fun PowerPoint or  Google Slides presentation, get creative and present the information in a way that’s easy for you and your audience to understand. Who knows – you might even use that presentation in the future for your classmates!

Student researching study tips for college

Create an Ambiance

Studying in the same spot can get tedious, so why not mix it up and get a new perspective on things? College campuses have tons of study spots for students—from the library to the campus lawn to local cafes (think back to studying with friends and finding an area to set up for an hour or for the day). Take advantage of these study areas, both indoors and outdoors, and give yourself a new view every day!

Studying without distractions is crucial. If you’re studying alone, try to find a quiet space or put headphones in to block out noise from your surroundings. If you’re in an area trying to study and it’s just not working out, relocate. It might be frustrating to have to pick up and move, but it will be worth it once you’re in a good environment. 

Consider putting your phone on silent or vibrate too – you can always respond to your messages after your study session!

How to Approach Studying

While it may seem like a good idea to learn an entire semester’s worth of information in one night, it’s not an effective study habit, and it can cause a lot of unnecessary stress. Instead, study a little bit of information every day for at least 20 – 30 minutes. You’ll likely remember more later and you’ll feel calm and prepared when it comes to exam time.

One of the study tips for college that can make a massive difference in how you approach new information is knowing the difference between memorizing the material and understanding it. Memorizing information isn’t actually learning the information—it’s just helping you learn how to repeat it during a finite time. 

For example, if you’re studying for a Spanish exam and you’re memorizing a conjugated verb chart, remembering what the verbs look like in written form will help you remember the information for that exam. However, you might forget the meanings of the verbs and how to use them in a sentence afterward since it’s a very specific way of studying. This may catch up with you when you take the next level up of Spanish.

Whether you’re using a notebook, a laptop, or good old-fashioned flashcards, reviewing each line of your notes helps ensure that you hit all the right information you reviewed in class and might even remind you of a few things you would have missed otherwise. It’s good to review notes shortly after class, and then again a few days later. This allows you to take a break between edits and come back to the information with a fresh perspective.

Occasionally, college professors will tell you the information that will (or won’t) be on an exam—listen to them! They’re sharing this information with you to save you time so you’re not studying the wrong information for hours, and you can focus on the important points. If you’re unsure about what to focus on while studying, send your professor a quick email to confirm or speak with him or her after class.

Study tips for college

Keep Your Cool

Studying can be draining, so treat yourself for a little motivation. Buy a coffee from your favorite coffee shop or get some study snacks from the campus convenience store. You can also reward yourself by taking breaks for activities you enjoy, like walking, reading, or watching TV. Adding in a reward will give you something fun to work towards.

Continuing from the previous point, taking breaks is important. Breaks give you a boost of productivity, reset, and prevent burnout. It might seem like you need to use all the time you possibly can to study, back-to-back, but your brain will start to slow down if you don’t give it a chance to relax. Taking breaks can help you get the most out of your study time with the least amount of stress.

It might be easy to fall into a trap of stressing yourself out while you’re studying, but that will be counterintuitive in the big picture. You can control when you study and how you study to help prepare you for your exams. After that, you have to be confident and try your best to retain the information. Believing in yourself and trusting that you’ve got this can help you forget about the stress and focus on moving forward.

Check out these additional resources and study tips for college to help you succeed in your college planning and writing:

  • How to write an essay about yourself
  • Structuring an essay about your career goals
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Daniel Wong

22 Study Habits That Guarantee Good Grades

Updated on June 6, 2023 By Daniel Wong 18 Comments

Study habits

Were you hoping to get an A for your last test or exam, but your study habits got in the way?

Maybe you got a B, or maybe you did worse than that.

It’s annoying, isn’t it…

You put in all those hours of studying. You even gave up time with your friends.

So what if I could show you a way to work smarter and not harder, so you get good grades and have time for the things you enjoy and find meaningful?

Even better, what if I could guarantee it?

Well, I can.

All you have to do is adopt these 22 study habits.

(Throughout my career as a student I got straight A’s, so I can promise you that these study habits work.)

Want to get the grades you’ve always wanted while also leading a balanced life?

Then let’s get started.

Enter your email below to download a PDF summary of this article. The PDF contains all the habits found here, plus 5 exclusive bonus habits that you’ll only find in the PDF.

The best study habits.

Add these effective study habits to your routine to start getting good grades with a lot less stress.

Habit #1: Create a weekly schedule

When you schedule time for a particular task like studying, you’re saying to yourself, “I’m going to focus on studying at this time, on this date, and it’s going to take this number of hours.”

Once it’s down in writing, it becomes a reality and you’re more likely to stick to it.

This might sound weird, but it’s true.

Do this in your calendar, in a spreadsheet, or download a template – whatever works best for you.

First, think about your fixed commitments like school, sports practice, family time, religious activities and so on.

Now, decide which times around these fixed commitments are the best for you to do your work and revision each week.

Don’t worry about exactly what work you’ll be doing, or what assignments are due. Just focus on blocking out the times.

Your weekly study schedule might look something like this (the blue slots are the times you’ve blocked out to do work):

Weekly schedule

Give yourself a study-free day (or at least half a day) once a week.

Everyone needs a break, so you’re more likely to come back to the work refreshed if you give yourself permission to take some time off.

Habit #2: Create a pre-studying checklist

Have you ever heard your mother say you should never go to the supermarket without a shopping list?

You’ll wander up and down the aisles, wasting time. You’ll make poor choices about what to buy and end up with all the wrong things for dinner.

By using a shopping list, your mind will be focused. You’ll only put items in your shopping trolley that you need, checking them off as you go.

It’s no different from a checklist used by a pilot before he takes off, or a mechanic as he services a car.

Checklists are essential as you learn how to develop good study habits. They ensure that you cover all the necessary steps to achieve an outcome.

Here are some of the things that might be on your pre-studying checklist:

  • Set up workspace
  • Make sure your phone is in another room or turned off
  • Let family members know not to disturb you until the end of the study session
  • Gather together all the notes and reference books needed
  • Get a glass of water

Keep your checklist handy, and tick everything off at the start of every study session.

Habit #3: Create a study plan

The purpose of a study plan is similar to that of a checklist. It keeps you on track.

When you go camping, you might have a checklist that covers all the equipment you need to pack into the car.

But you also need a road map to show you how to get to the campsite. It allows you to plan your route, and keeps you focused on your destination.

So, at the start of each study session, create a study plan.

For example, today you might need to complete a math assignment and write up the summary notes of chapter 4 of your history textbook.

Write down the key tasks, together with a list of steps you’ll need to take along the way.

To complete your math assignment, you might write:

  • Read notes from math class
  • Read chapter in the textbook on algebraic calculations
  • Do questions 1 to 3

Your study plan will help you concentrate on what you need to get done today, without being distracted by the things that can wait until tomorrow.

Habit #4: Study offline as much as possible

Study offline

When you study, you want to be focused, which means limiting all those annoying interruptions that happen when you’re online.

Switch off your Internet connection and give your brain the peace and quiet it needs to concentrate.

And while you’re at it, try not to use a laptop to take notes.

This may sound like strange advice, but research has shown that taking notes by hand is a much smarter way of learning.

When you write notes by hand, your brain absorbs the meaning of what you’re writing. But when you use a laptop, you’re not processing what you’re learning as deeply.

Habit #5: Take three deep breaths before each study session

What’s the one thing that comes to you so naturally, you don’t even think about it?

We each take about 20,000 breaths a day, so you’d think we’d be pretty good at it. But did you know that there are better ways to breathe than others ?

And guess who breathes the best? Babies.

As babies, we all take deep, relaxing breaths. These breaths push the oxygen around our bodies and into our brains, helping us to concentrate better.

But as we get older, we take shorter, faster breaths. As a result, we have trouble staying alert.

There are plenty of ways to breathe more deeply, but here’s one method you can try before you start each study session:

  • Close your eyes and breathe in through your nose for four seconds
  • Exhale through your mouth for four seconds
  • Repeat three times

Tip: Try this just before you go to bed as well. It will help you sleep better.

Habit #6: Learn how to motivate yourself

Do you find that sometimes it’s almost impossible to start studying? In fact, your body feels like a heavy stone as you drag yourself towards your workspace.

Don’t worry. Everyone feels like that from time to time.

You just need to know how to motivate yourself to study , and to do that we’re going to create another list.

This time, write down all the reasons why you want to study hard, such as:

  • I want to do my best
  • I want to become more disciplined
  • I want to prepare well for the future
  • I want to develop perseverance
  • I want to learn as much as I can

Put your list somewhere you can see it. The next time you feel like watching TV instead of studying, go through your list.

You’ll be fired up and ready to get back to your studies in no time!

Habit #7: Take notes during class

Taking notes in class is an important study tip to implement .

Think about the number of classes you go to every day at school and the mountain of information that gets thrown at you.

You’d never be able to remember everything you learned without taking notes.

Taking notes also helps you to absorb and retain information much better than just listening.

And lastly, think of your class notes as the backbone of your focused study time . They sum up what you’ve learned, and they make your study time more efficient.

(Here are some proven tips on how to take notes effectively .)

Habit #8: Review what you learned in school that day

Review what you learned

Reviewing new information you learned in class is one of the most effective study habits you can develop.

Before the end of each day, read the notes you took or re-read the chapter that your teacher taught in class.

It won’t take long to do, and it will help you retain what you learned. It will also make the process of moving the information from short-term to long-term memory smoother.

Habit #9: Read your notes before you start doing your homework

This is similar to the last study habit we talked about.

The first thing you should do in your study session is to re-read the notes you took in class before you start the homework assignment for that topic.

Don’t forget to include this task in your study plan (see Habit #3).

It will refresh your memory, so you’ll be well prepared to tackle the assignment and you’ll finish your homework faster .

Habit #10: Get at least eight hours of sleep every night

We all know that a good night’s sleep makes us more alert and energised the next day.

But did you know that it also improves your memory and makes you a better student ?

You probably think there’s no way a top student could get enough sleep, but you’re wrong. In fact, getting eight hours of sleep before an exam is more effective than staying up late, trying to cram all the information in.

The best way to make sure you get eight hours of good quality sleep is to go to bed at the same time each night. (Set an alarm to remind you, if necessary.)

Read a chapter of a book, but don’t read it on your phone or tablet. This is because the light from such screens makes it difficult for the brain to wind down and inhibits melatonin production.

In addition, turn off phones and other electronic devices that may disturb you during the night.

Habit #11: Create an environment that helps you study

Trying to work in a noisy room, or one with poor lighting, is going to make your study time less effective.

To develop good study habits, take a few minutes to ensure your workspace is conducive to studying.

Here are a few things to think about:

  • Do you have the necessary supplies and stationery within reach?
  • Is the lighting adequate?
  • Make sure your desk is tidy and uncluttered (do this before and after each study session)
  • Is the room at the right temperature?
  • Is your work chair comfortable?
  • Is the room quiet? (Use earplugs if necessary)
  • Is your phone switched off?
  • Delete any apps on your phone that you might be tempted to open when you should be studying
  • Are there any other distractions in the room that might disturb you, like a magazine or the TV? Switch them off or remove them altogether.

Habit #12: Time your study sessions and breaks

Time your study sessions

Do you find it hard to concentrate for more than 45 minutes at a time? That’s perfectly normal.

In fact, I’d recommend that you take a 5-minute break from studying every 30 to 40 minutes.

Don’t fall into the study habit of stretching out your break so it ends up being longer than your study time, though.

When you start a study session, set a timer for 30 to 40 minutes and then take a break. Likewise, set the timer for the end of the break so you know when to get back to work.

Habit #13: When you take a study break, step away from your desk

To develop good study habits, don’t forget to take breaks and use them wisely.

Step away from your desk and do something completely different to give your brain a break, as well as your body. Go for a short walk around the block or get a snack from the kitchen.

I encourage you not to watch a video, turn on the TV or check your social media news feed.

This is because these activities won’t give your brain a proper break.

Habit #14: Make use of the breaks you have during the school day

Do you have a long break in the middle of the school day or after lunch?

Is there something useful you could be doing with this time?

Maybe you could review the notes you took that morning or start preparing your study plan for later in the day.

Another great use of your free time is to seek out a fellow student and talk about what you’ve just learned. This is especially so if you need some clarification, or if you have doubts about something.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s an excellent way to learn faster and better.

Habit #15: Stay on top of your homework

This may sound like an obvious habit to cultivate as a student , but I’m often surprised by the number of students who let their homework pile up.

If it gets out of hand, just the thought of doing your homework can become overwhelming and stressful.

Before you know it, you’ll find yourself working so hard to catch up, you’ll have no time to study for important tests and exams, which are stressful enough on their own .

One of the most effective study habits to practise is to start your homework on the day it’s assigned.

At the very least, take a look at the questions while the information you learned is still fresh in your mind.

That way, if you have to come back to it later, you’ll have a rough framework as a starting point, making it much easier to complete.

Habit #16: Ask your teachers for help at least once a week

Ask teachers for help

Your teachers are there to help you succeed . Don’t be afraid to reach out to them.

Asking for help is a crucial study habit to cultivate.

Include asking for help in your weekly schedule (see Habit #1) and keep a list of any questions you think of during the week.

Bring the list of questions with you, and don’t let them pile up.

If you let the questions pile up, you may start to feel overwhelmed, and you may become reluctant to seek help.

Habit #17: Use a planner to keep track of assignments and deadlines

If you’re not organised when it comes to things related to school , you’ll waste precious time doing last-minute work you forgot about.

Or you may stay up late to finish an assignment you should have started a week earlier.

Use a planner to keep track of important dates, tasks and deadlines. You can either use a physical diary or an online one like Google Calendar.

The important thing is to keep your planner up to date, so you don’t have to rely on your memory or wait for your teachers to remind you.

Planning and studying effectively will improve your test-taking skills and performance.

Don’t just include the date of a test, for example, when you use your planner. Include a reminder to start revising for the test well in advance.

And review your planner at least once a week. Every Monday, go through all the upcoming deadlines, and prioritise the tasks and projects you’ll need to keep on top of for the week.

Habit #18: Test yourself periodically

Don’t wait for regular tests and exams to come around before you start studying. Set mini-tests for yourself every few weeks.

You may have reviewed your class notes once, but it doesn’t mean the information has been absorbed or effectively memorised for a future exam.

Here’s how to test yourself…

When you review your class notes, highlight some of the key things you’ve learned.

For example, in history it might be the date of an important event. Write down some test questions on a separate sheet of paper as you go, such as “When did the war start?” or “What caused the civil war?”

The next day, pull out the test questions and see how many answers you can remember.

It takes some effort to succeed at a test you give yourself, but that effort will be rewarded when it comes to exam time.

Habit #19: Check your work before you consider it done

When you finish an assignment, don’t consider it done until you’ve double-checked your work for careless mistakes.

Here’s what you should be looking out for:

  • Spelling mistakes
  • Grammar mistakes
  • Poor presentation
  • Have I responded to the question?
  • Have I left out key facts?
  • Have I got the equations correct?

Habit #20: Keep a “worry” list

Keep a "worry" list

It’s common for students to worry about not doing well, but it’s a distracting pastime.

When you worry about something, it can hinder your ability to focus on learning and improving.

That’s why you need to keep a “worry” list.

Strange as it may sound, research has shown that writing down a list of your fears about school can actually improve your grades.

When you write down a list of your worries, it’s as though you’re unloading your anxieties and freeing up your brain to concentrate on learning.

So whenever a worry pops into your mind, write it down and move on.

Habit #21: Use online resources (if your teacher isn’t available)

Your teacher should be the first person you go to with a question or concern about the class material – unless you can easily find the answer on the Internet.

But if your teachers aren’t available when you need something clarified (which often happens in the middle of study time), there are some great online resources you can use.

Here are some of them:

  • Khan Academy
  • BBC Bitesize
  • Mathispower4u

Habit #22: If you struggle with procrastination, use the Pomodoro Technique

Procrastination or a lack of focus is a big problem during study time.

We’ve already talked about the need to take regular breaks (see Habit #13), but there’s another method you might find useful.

It’s called the Pomodoro Technique.

The idea is that you’ll stay on top of your work if you break your study periods up into focused but manageable bursts of 25 minutes.

This is instead of trying to concentrate for two hours or more at a go, which takes a lot of energy and willpower.

The objective is to train your brain to focus on a task that needs to be completed and postpone all distractions until later.

Here’s how it works:

  • Set a timer for 25 minutes
  • Concentrate 100% on studying until the timer rings
  • Take a five-minute break – and remember to step away from your desk
  • Repeat until the end of your study session

Here are some apps you can try:

  • Focus Booster – This is available for desktop and mobile devices. You can download the starter version for free.
  • Marinara Timer – This one is free and doesn’t need downloading. Just open it up and start the timer.

Check out this article for even more apps you can use.

Start practising your new study habits

Well done! You’ve read about the 22 study habits that are guaranteed to improve your grades.

(On top of that, here are 8 bad study habits you’ll want to avoid.)

Reading about these habits is a great start. But nothing’s going to change if you just click away from this article.

If you’re wondering how to get good grades , you need to take action – every day, every week, and every month. Start tomorrow with just one new study habit. Make it part of your daily routine.

After a week, pick another one and put it into practice.

Before you know it, you’re going to turn those disappointing B’s and C’s into straight A’s. I guarantee it!

Like this article? Please share it with your friends.

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July 31, 2019 at 7:50 pm

Thanks for the study habits, I will definitely use them in my daily life.

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July 31, 2019 at 8:08 pm

You’re welcome, Greta.

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August 1, 2019 at 3:03 pm

Thanks, Daniel, for making the points simple, clear and doable!

August 1, 2019 at 3:46 pm

You’re welcome!

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August 2, 2019 at 8:53 am

thank you so much for the tips sir. my A/L are literally in next two days. it will be very helpful if you can send me some tips about how to work during the exam time and now…….TBH I just want to take at least 3Bs…..thank you again for everything.

August 2, 2019 at 10:56 am

You’re welcome. All the best for your exams! I’ve actually created this guide ( https://www.daniel-wong.com/taking-tests-exams/ ), which should help you do much better for your exams.

August 2, 2019 at 12:33 pm

Thank you so much…

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August 3, 2019 at 6:14 am

Ur an amazing tutor Daniel!

August 3, 2019 at 8:14 am

I don’t really consider myself a tutor, but I’m glad that you found the article useful!

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August 18, 2019 at 3:02 am

Thank you so much. You have been a great help! especially all your free pdfs have helped me be a lot more organized. Thanks a lot!

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September 23, 2019 at 4:16 am

Great tips. Thank you Daniel for sharing

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February 1, 2020 at 2:54 pm

You are great! I also remained an a grader for long but lost track with your tips I will be back

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April 5, 2020 at 6:53 pm

Hi. Hope you doing well. Great tips. Are these tips good for the university too? or they are just for school time? BTW I read your website every day! You are amazing. God bless you

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November 14, 2020 at 4:02 am

Some of them sound as if they are for university, so I would say both.

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August 8, 2020 at 11:43 pm

Simply the best and so practical and nicely presented i like a lot. Keep it up!

Really good job doing for the students and even for professionals this is going to help a lot.

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January 6, 2021 at 11:06 pm

Great article

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January 7, 2021 at 9:31 pm

The most important habits I am trying to adopt this semester are #1 Create a weekly schedule. #3 Create a study plan. #4 Study offline as much as possible.

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September 26, 2021 at 12:53 am

THIS IS GOING TO HELP ME THANKS.

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27 Good Study Habits of Straight-A Students

good study habits, explained below

Study habits refer to the consistent practice and approach to study, on a regular basis, to enhance academic performance.

The good thing about a habit is that once you do it on a regular basis, it becomes easy. So, your job is to get into this habit early. Once you’re into the habit, university becomes easy (well, easier ).

Good study habits that I recommend include getting into the routine of heading to the library (or a similar study space) to study without distractions, chunking your studies by subject, and using spaced repetition for things that require rote memorization .

I also recommend studying with friends – such as by testing one another – whenever possible.

The integration of efficient study habits enhances academic performance and motivation to study . By developing effective study strategies adjusted to your personal learning style, you improve concentration and retention of information – and concentration, more than time spent studying, is found to be a key factor for success (Nonis & Hudson, 2010).

Good Study Habits

1. Time Management Time management refers to being able to efficiently allocate your time so you don’t run out of time, and so you have enough time to allocate to all important tasks. As a basis, you could initiate a dedicated study schedule, specifying the time slots for each subject. For instance, you might want to allot your mornings for theory-heavy subjects like Anatomy, and save the afternoons for practice-oriented subjects like Clinical Skills. Don’t forget to also block time for regular study breaks and social events. This is crucial to prevent burnout and maintain longevity – university is a marathon, not a sprint.

Read Also: 7 Things to do in your First Week of University

2. Using Active Reading Strategies This is the process of engaging with the material by asking questions and drawing connections. Instead of passively reading your texts, you can participate more actively by summarizing the information in your own words, teaching it to someone else, quizzing yourself, or creating visual aids like diagrams and mind maps. As Issa et al. (2012) found, reading relevant information daily is an effective study habit for improving grades.

3. Setting Realistic Goals This strategy involves laying out achievable objectives for each study session or topic. Setting goals not only keeps you focused, but also helps gauge your progress. For example, instead of aiming to read an entire biology textbook in two days, you might target mastering one chapter per day. I recommend setting both short-term study goals and long-term study goals using the SMART Goals method .

4. Prioritization Successful students often prioritize tasks based on their deadlines and degree of importance. You might follow the Eisenhower Box method: divide your tasks into four categories, namely, important and urgent, important but not urgent, not important but urgent, and not important and not urgent. For instance, an upcoming exam translates into an important and urgent task, hence it would be first on your list.

5. Spaced Repetition This strategy involves studying information over incremental intervals instead of cramming it in one sitting. You might review your notes on the day you learn something, then again in a couple of days, then after a week, and so forth. There are even apps like the Anki flashcards app that have a built-in spaced repetition algorithm that can space how often ideas are presented to you.

6. Creating a Suitable Environment Each individual’s ideal study environment may differ based on personal preferences . Some people need complete silence, while others work better with some background noise. If you like silence, the quite section of a library is a good place to start – I recommend making it a habit to go to the library at your university as often as possible. Conversely, if you feel background noise helps you to concentrate, consider studying at a cafe. But the key is to ensure your environment is right for you. As Ogbodo (2010, p. 229) argues: “Where to study is as important as what to study and how to go about studying.”

7. Taking Breaks Integrating regular short breaks into your study pattern can boost your productivity and mental agility because it decreases distractions during focused study time. And this is important. As Walck-Shannon, Rowell and Frey (2021) found, “students reported being distracted about 20% of their study time, and distraction while studying negatively predicted exam performance.” So, let’s avoid that – by splitting our time between strong focus, then rest. Typically, the Pomodoro technique is a popular method for this, where you study for 25 minutes, then take a 5-minute break. After four such cycles, you take a longer break of 15-20 minutes. During your breaks, you can engage in some light activity such as stretching or walking to invigorate yourself.

8. Maintaining Physical Health Eating well, getting regular exercise, and ensuring enough sleep are often overlooked aspects of efficient studying. Research shows that a balanced diet, physical activity, and proper sleep improve cognitive functions , including memory and concentration. You may want to establish a regular sleep schedule, incorporate a balanced diet, and schedule regular exercise sessions each week into your routine.

9. Using Technology Wisely Technology offers a range of tools that can streamline your study process. For instance, you can use apps for time management (e.g., Rescue Time), note-taking (e.g., Evernote), or spaced repetition (e.g., Anki). While these apps can be beneficial, remember to keep checks on screens’ disruptive nature and the habit of digital distraction. As practice, try turning off your phone’s notifications when you study, or set ‘Do Not Disturb’ intervals.

10. Review and Revise Sessions Regular review of study materials aids in long-term retention of information. You can allocate specific time slots each week to revisit old notes, attempt self-test papers or engage in group discussions. For instance, you might dedicate your Sunday mornings to revising everything you’ve covered during the preceding week.

11. Active Writing Transcribing information demands active engagement, thereby reinforcing your understanding and memory of the subject. You might opt to rewrite complex concepts in your own words or diagrammatically represent intricate processes. For example, instead of merely reading about the human circulatory system, consider drawing it out with brief annotations.

12. Seeking Help When Needed Understanding when to seek help is an underrated study habit. If you find yourself struggling with a subject, don’t hesitate to approach your professors, peers, or study groups for clarification. You might also seek online resources such as academic forums or educational websites. Remember, it’s better to clarify doubts initially than to have misconceptions hamper your overall learning.

13. Mindfulness and Focus Mindfulness, or present-moment awareness, can help enhance your comprehension and retention during studying. You could practice mindfulness by removing distractions, concentrating on the task at hand, and making a conscious effort to absorb the material.

14. Integrating Study with Real-Life Scenarios Applying the theoretical knowledge learned during study sessions to real-life instances can facilitate a deeper understanding. You might relate basic principles of economics to household budgeting or chemistry to cooking. This practice can help convert abstract concepts into tangible examples.

15. Regular Self-Assessment Implementing regular exams or quizzes to assess your understanding and memory can be a direct way to monitor progress. You can either use ready-made quizzes available online or design a short assessment yourself. As you answer, mark out the areas you struggled with for further review. This method will help you know where you stand in your preparation and what areas need extra effort.

16. Employing Mnemonics This involves using techniques to retain and retrieve information. The method could be as simple as creating an acronym or conjuring up a relevant mental image. For example, in recalling the taxonomical rank in biology – Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species – you might use the well-known mnemonic phrase: “King Phillip Came Over For Good Soup.” Examples of additional mnemonic techniques include the method of loci and memory linking .

17. Incorporating Understandable Examples Since abstract concepts can be confusing, associating them with relateable analogies can help you grasp the idea. This technique depends heavily on your creativity and could be as simple as linking a literary theme to a popular movie plot. Ensuring your examples make sense to you is vital.

18. Varying Study Methods It is beneficial to avoid monotony and experiment with multiple learning techniques. This can include oscillating between solitary studying and group study sessions, or alternating between text-based learning and audio-visual aids. For instance, following a hefty reading session, you might want to watch a related documentary or podcast on the topic. Switching up strategies not only prevents burnout but also caters to different facets of your learning style.

19. Note-Taking Strategy Effective note-taking is a skill that helps in better understanding and remembrance of knowledge. You should decide a note-taking strategy which could be outlining, mind mapping, or the Cornell method, and stick to it. For example, you might use the Cornell Method, which divides the paper into notes, cues, and a summary section for enhancing retention and review.

20. Regularity and Consistency Consistency is the cornerstone of strong study habits. Establishing a regular routine that allocates specific periods for study each day leads to better academic performance. For instance, studying for two hours per day consistently is more effective than cramming for fourteen hours once a week.

21. Engage All Senses Engaging multiple senses aids in strengthening your memory of the subject matter. This could involve reading aloud, rewriting notes, creating visual aids, or even using software to convert text to speech. The goal is to consume the information through as many sensory channels as possible to maximize retention. For example, if you’re studying foreign vocabulary, you could listen to the pronunciation, read the definition, write the word several times, and visualize an image related to it.

22. Reflective Learning Reflective learning involves regularly taking a few moments to contemplate what you’ve learned. This process ensures you understand the main concepts and helps you evaluate how effectively the learning material has been understood. For instance, after reading a section on World History, take a moment to think about what questions have been answered and what new questions have arisen in your mind about the topic.

23. Preparing for the Next Class Reviewing the material that will be covered in the next class helps make the class more productive and understandable. By having prior knowledge of the topic, you can better participate in class discussions and raise insightful queries. For example, if tomorrow’s Physics class covers Electromagnetic Waves, you might want to read the corresponding chapter tonight.

24. Constructive Procrastination While complete avoidance of procrastination is the goal, sometimes it’s unavoidable. Constructive procrastination involves doing another task that also needs to be done when you feel like procrastinating. If you find yourself unable to study Civil Law, consider switching to another pending task, such as completing your Mathematics assignment. This way, you remain productive while giving in to the urge to procrastinate.

25. Visualization Techniques Visualization involves picturing the information in your mind, which can significantly improve memory and recall. For instance, when studying Anatomy, envisioning the body parts, systems, and processes can enhance your understanding. If you’d like to explore this strategy more, read my article on the visual peg-word system for memorization .

26. Listen to Music Without Lyrics Listening to music while studying is a controversial topic. Some people think it helps them to achieve a flow state, while most research suggests that “ media multitasking ” is a distraction whether we realize it or not (Xu, Wang, & Woods, 2019). Generally, I recommend that if you do like that background nose, try to listen to music without lyrics, like lo-fi playlists from YouTube, which act as background noise and could potentially prevent your mind from wandering.

27. Study with Friends Thalluri (2016) found that “study buddy support groups” significantly support studying. Friends can keep each other accountable and help motivate one another. And, according to social learning theory , working in groups helps us to reinforce knowledge. For example, if you’re talking about the course content with friends, you’ll hear their unique perspectives, which you can critically compare to your own, which augments, supports, positively alters, and strengthens your own perspectives.

Study habits act as the building blocks of your academic journey. Efficient study habits not only ensure better academic performance but also help in gaining lifelong skills like time management, goal-setting, and self-discipline. By adopting effective study habits, you modulate your academic journey to a more favorable and fruitful path.

If you want to dive deeper into getting good study habits, I’d recommend James Clear’s Atomic Habits book – it’s an amazing book for learning to get more productive and optimize your time as a student.

Issa, A.O., Aliyu, M.B., Akangbe, R.B., and Adedeji, A.F. (2012). Reading interest and habits of the federal polytechnic students. International Journal of Learning & Development, 2 (1): 470-486.

Nonis, S. A., & Hudson, G. I. (2010). Performance of college students: Impact of study time and study habits.  Journal of education for Business ,  85 (4), 229-238.

Ogbodo, R. O. (2010). Effective Study Habits in Educational Sector: Counselling Implications.  Edo Journal of Counselling ,  3 (2), 230-242.

Thalluri, J. (2016). Who benefits most from peer support group?–First year student success for Pathology students.  Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences ,  228 , 39-44.

Walck-Shannon, E. M., Rowell, S. F., & Frey, R. F. (2021). To what extent do study habits relate to performance?.  CBE—Life Sciences Education ,  20 (1). doi: https://doi.org/10.1187/cbe.20-05-0091

Xu, S., Wang, Z., & Woods, K. (2019). Multitasking and dual motivational systems: A dynamic longitudinal study.  Human Communication Research ,  45 (4), 371-394. doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/hcr/hqz009

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Chris Drew (PhD)

Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]

  • Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/chris-drew-phd/ 50 Durable Goods Examples
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Developing Good Study Habits for Academic Success: The Power of Habits

Developing good study habits is crucial for academic success, as well as for personal and professional growth. Good study habits not only help you retain information more effectively, but they also enhance critical thinking skills, boost memory, and improve overall productivity. Whether you’re a student in high school, college, or a working professional pursuing a new skill, the benefits of good study habits are undeniable.

By establishing good study habits, you can optimize your learning experience and achieve better results. This includes setting up a conducive study environment, utilizing active reading strategies, employing effective study techniques, managing your time well, and mastering test-taking strategies. These habits may take time and effort to develop, but the rewards are worth it.

In the following sections, we’ll explore the various aspects of good study habits and provide actionable tips and techniques to help you achieve success.

How to Develop Good Study Habits

Table of Contents

Have a close look at how to develop good study habits.

Setting Up Your Study Environment

The study environment plays a crucial role in your ability to focus and retain information. Here are some tips to create a conducive study environment:

Choosing a comfortable and quiet place to study

Find a location where you can sit comfortably for an extended period. This may be a desk in a quiet room, a local library, or a coffee shop with a relaxed ambiance.

Eliminating distractions

Distractions can make it difficult to concentrate and stay focused. Turn off your phone or set it to airplane mode to avoid notifications. Avoid studying in a busy area or near loud noises. Consider using noise-cancelling headphones to block out any distracting sounds.

Creating a study schedule and sticking to it

Establishing a consistent study schedule can help you stay organized and focused. Identify your most productive hours of the day and allocate specific blocks of time for studying. Use a planner or a scheduling app to help you stay on track.

Ensuring proper lighting

Adequate lighting can help reduce eye strain and improve focus. Make sure your study area is well-lit with natural or artificial light. Avoid studying in dimly lit areas that can cause eye fatigue.

Keeping the study area organized

A clean and organized study space can help you stay focused and reduce stress levels. Keep your study materials and supplies organized and tidy. Use storage containers or shelves to store books, notes, and other materials.

Choosing the right temperature

The temperature of your study environment can affect your focus and productivity. Choose a temperature that’s comfortable for you and helps you concentrate. Avoid extreme temperatures that can cause discomfort or distract you.

Adjusting your posture

Poor posture can cause physical discomfort and reduce your ability to focus. Ensure that your chair and desk are ergonomically designed and properly adjusted to support your back and reduce strain on your neck and shoulders.

By following these additional tips, you can create an ideal study environment that maximizes your concentration and learning potential.

Active Reading Strategies

Active reading is an essential skill that can help you retain information, identify key concepts, and analyze complex ideas. Here are some effective active reading strategies:

Previewing the material before reading

Before you start reading, take a few minutes to scan through the text. Look at the headings, subheadings, and any bolded or italicized text to get an idea of what the passage is about.

Highlighting key points

Highlighting can help you identify and remember important information. Use a highlighter to mark key concepts, definitions, and examples. Avoid highlighting too much, as it can reduce the effectiveness of the technique.

Taking effective notes

Taking notes while reading can help you retain information and organize your thoughts. Use abbreviations, bullet points, and other symbols to make note-taking more efficient. Consider using a separate notebook or binder to keep your notes organized.

Summarizing main ideas

Summarizing can help you remember key concepts and ensure that you understand the material. After reading a section, try to summarize the main points in your own words. This will help you remember the material better and identify any areas where you need further clarification.

Asking questions

Asking questions while you read can help you better understand the material and identify any areas of confusion. Try to ask questions about the main idea, key concepts, and any examples or illustrations in the text.

Making connections

Making connections between the material you’re reading and your own experiences or other readings can help you remember and understand the material better. Look for similarities or differences between the current text and other texts you’ve read, or connect the material to real-life situations.

Visualizing

Visualizing can help you create mental images of the material, making it easier to remember and understand. Try to create visual images in your mind of the concepts, ideas, or examples in the text.

Engaging with the text

Engaging with the text can help you stay focused and interested in the material. Ask yourself questions, make predictions, and reflect on your own experiences as you read. This can help you stay engaged with the material and increase your overall understanding.

By utilizing these active reading strategies, you can enhance your comprehension and retention of the material. These strategies also encourage critical thinking and help you engage more deeply with the text.

Effective Study Techniques

Effective study techniques are important for retaining information and achieving academic success. Here are some additional techniques that can help improve your study habits:

Creating outlines

Creating an outline of the material you need to study can help you organize your thoughts and break down complex information into manageable sections. Use headings and subheadings to categorize information and create a clear structure for your study material.

Using visual aids

Visual aids such as diagrams, charts, and graphs can help you understand complex information more easily. Use these aids to supplement your notes and highlight key concepts or relationships.

Testing yourself

Testing yourself is an effective way to reinforce your learning and identify areas where you need to focus your study efforts. Use flashcards, quizzes, or practice exams to test your knowledge and help you recall information more easily.

Taking breaks

Taking regular breaks can help you stay focused and prevent burnout. Take short breaks every hour or so, and use the time to rest, exercise, or do something you enjoy.

Using technology

Technology can be a useful tool for studying, with a variety of apps and online resources available to help you learn more efficiently. Use online flashcards or study apps to help you stay organized and reinforce your learning.

Teaching others

Teaching others is a great way to reinforce your own learning and identify areas where you need to improve your understanding. Try explaining the material to a friend or family member, or join a study group where you can take turns teaching each other.

Setting goals

Setting clear goals for your study session can help you stay motivated and focused. Set specific, achievable goals for each study session, such as reading a certain number of pages or mastering a particular concept.

Practicing self-care

Practicing self-care is essential for maintaining good study habits. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and taking care of your mental health. This can help you stay focused and alert while you study.

Varying your study techniques

Varying your study techniques can help prevent boredom and improve your retention of information. Try using different techniques for different types of material, or switch up your study environment to keep things fresh.

Seeking help when needed

Don’t be afraid to seek help when you’re struggling with a particular concept or assignment. Talk to your teacher, a tutor, or a study partner for assistance, or seek out online resources or instructional videos to supplement your learning.

By incorporating these additional techniques into your study habits, you can improve your efficiency, motivation, and overall academic performance. Remember to tailor your study habits to your individual needs and preferences, and be willing to experiment with different techniques until you find the ones that work best for you.

Time Management Strategies

Effective time management is crucial for achieving your goals and avoiding stress and burnout. Here are some additional time management strategies that can help you make the most of your time:

Setting realistic goals

Setting realistic goals can help you stay motivated and avoid feeling overwhelmed. Break down large tasks into smaller, more manageable steps, and set realistic deadlines for each step.

Using a planner or calendar

Using a planner or calendar can help you keep track of deadlines, appointments, and other important tasks. Use your planner to schedule study sessions, meetings, and other activities, and make sure to block out time for self-care and relaxation.

Minimizing distractions

Minimizing distractions can help you stay focused and productive. Turn off notifications on your phone, close unnecessary tabs on your computer, and find a quiet, distraction-free environment to work in.

Delegating tasks

Delegating tasks can help you free up time for more important activities. If you have a group project or other collaborative assignment, delegate tasks to other group members based on their strengths and interests.

Using the Pomodoro technique

The Pomodoro technique is a time management strategy that involves working for a set amount of time (usually 25 minutes) and then taking a short break (usually 5 minutes). Repeat this cycle several times, and then take a longer break (usually 15-30 minutes). This can help you stay focused and productive while avoiding burnout.

Practicing self-care is essential for maintaining good time management habits. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, exercise, and social interaction, and take time to do activities you enjoy.

Using time-blocking

Time-blocking involves scheduling specific blocks of time for certain tasks or activities. This can help you stay focused and avoid getting sidetracked by other tasks or distractions. For example, you might schedule a block of time for studying, a block of time for exercising, and a block of time for running errands.

Eliminating time-wasting activities

Identify any activities that are not essential or that are not helping you reach your goals, and eliminate them from your routine. For example, if you spend a lot of time scrolling through social media, consider limiting your social media use or deleting the apps from your phone altogether.

Breaking up large task

Breaking up large tasks into smaller, more manageable steps can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed and make it easier to stay motivated. Try breaking up a large project into smaller milestones, and celebrate your progress along the way.

Prioritizing self-reflection

Taking time to reflect on your goals and priorities can help you stay focused and motivated. Schedule regular check-ins with yourself to evaluate your progress, identify areas for improvement, and adjust your goals or strategies as needed.

Remember that effective time management is a skill that takes time and practice to develop. Be patient with yourself as you experiment with different strategies, and don’t be afraid to seek out additional resources or support if you need it. With a little effort and dedication, you can develop the time management skills you need to achieve your goals and thrive in all areas of your life.

Test-Taking Strategies

Test-taking can be a stressful experience, but with the right strategies, you can improve your performance and reduce your stress levels. Here are some additional test-taking strategies to help you succeed:

Reviewing your notes

One of the best ways to prepare for tests is to review your notes regularly. This can help you retain the material and identify areas where you need more practice.

Using practice tests

Practice tests can help you familiarize yourself with the format and content of the test, as well as identify areas where you need more practice.

Understanding the instructions

Make sure you understand the instructions for the test and each question before you begin. This can help you avoid making mistakes and wasting time.

Managing your time

Use your time wisely during the test. Start with the questions you know and move on to the more challenging questions later. If you get stuck on a question, move on and come back to it later.

Answering questions strategically

Use strategic guessing to maximize your chances of getting the right answer on multiple-choice questions. Eliminate obviously wrong answers, and make an educated guess based on the remaining options.

Managing test anxiety

Test anxiety can interfere with your performance, so it’s important to manage your stress levels. Practice deep breathing or other relaxation techniques, and use positive self-talk to boost your confidence.

Checking your work

Take the time to review your answers before submitting your test. Double-check your calculations, spelling, and grammar to avoid careless mistakes.

Understanding the scoring system

Understanding how the test is scored can help you focus your efforts on the questions that are worth the most points, and avoid wasting time on questions that are less important.

Practicing time management

Practice answering questions quickly and efficiently to manage your time effectively during the test. Use a timer to simulate test conditions and practice pacing yourself.

Reading the question carefully

Make sure you read each question carefully and understand what it is asking before you begin answering. Pay attention to key words, phrases , and instructions that can guide your answer.

By incorporating these additional test-taking strategies into your routine, you can reduce your stress levels, improve your performance, and achieve better results on your tests. Remember to stay calm, focused, and confident, and trust in your preparation and abilities.

In conclusion, good study habits are essential for academic success and personal growth. By setting up a comfortable study environment, using active reading strategies, practicing effective study techniques, managing your time wisely, and using strategic test-taking strategies, you can improve your learning outcomes and reduce stress levels.

It’s important to remember that developing good study habits takes time and practice, but the benefits are well worth the effort. By committing to these habits, you can increase your confidence, improve your grades, and achieve your academic goals.

So, let’s continue to practice good study habits, stay focused, and work towards our academic success. With dedication and persistence, we can all achieve our goals and reach our full potential.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are good study habits.

Good study habits are practices and techniques that promote effective learning and help students achieve their academic goals. These habits include setting up a comfortable study environment, using active reading strategies, practicing effective study techniques, managing time wisely, and using strategic test-taking strategies.

Why are good study habits important?

Good study habits are important because they help students learn more effectively, improve their grades, reduce stress levels, and increase their confidence. By practicing good study habits, students can also develop important life skills such as time management, organization, and critical thinking.

How can I develop good study habits?

Developing good study habits takes time and practice. Start by setting up a comfortable and distraction-free study environment, creating a study schedule, and breaking down material into manageable chunks. Use active reading strategies such as highlighting and note-taking, and practice effective study techniques such as using mnemonic devices and practicing active recall. Finally, use time management strategies to stay organized and manage your time effectively.

How can I stick to my study schedule?

Sticking to a study schedule requires discipline and commitment. One way to stay on track is to make your schedule realistic and achievable, and to break down tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks. Use a planner or calendar to keep track of your schedule, and try to study at the same time each day to establish a routine.

How can I manage test anxiety?

Test anxiety can be managed by using relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and visualization, staying organized and prepared, getting enough rest, and taking care of your physical and emotional health. Practice positive self-talk and focus on your strengths and abilities, rather than your fears and doubts. And remember, it’s okay to ask for help or support from a teacher, counselor, or friend.

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Forget What You Know About Good Study Habits

By Benedict Carey

  • Sept. 6, 2010

Every September, millions of parents try a kind of psychological witchcraft, to transform their summer-glazed campers into fall students, their video-bugs into bookworms. Advice is cheap and all too familiar: Clear a quiet work space. Stick to a homework schedule. Set goals. Set boundaries. Do not bribe (except in emergencies).

And check out the classroom. Does Junior’s learning style match the new teacher’s approach? Or the school’s philosophy? Maybe the child isn’t “a good fit” for the school.

Such theories have developed in part because of sketchy education research that doesn’t offer clear guidance. Student traits and teaching styles surely interact; so do personalities and at-home rules. The trouble is, no one can predict how.

Yet there are effective approaches to learning, at least for those who are motivated. In recent years, cognitive scientists have shown that a few simple techniques can reliably improve what matters most: how much a student learns from studying.

The findings can help anyone, from a fourth grader doing long division to a retiree taking on a new language. But they directly contradict much of the common wisdom about good study habits, and they have not caught on.

For instance, instead of sticking to one study location, simply alternating the room where a person studies improves retention. So does studying distinct but related skills or concepts in one sitting, rather than focusing intensely on a single thing.

“We have known these principles for some time, and it’s intriguing that schools don’t pick them up, or that people don’t learn them by trial and error,” said Robert A. Bjork, a psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles. “Instead, we walk around with all sorts of unexamined beliefs about what works that are mistaken.”

Take the notion that children have specific learning styles, that some are “visual learners” and others are auditory; some are “left-brain” students, others “right-brain.” In a recent review of the relevant research, published in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest, a team of psychologists found almost zero support for such ideas. “The contrast between the enormous popularity of the learning-styles approach within education and the lack of credible evidence for its utility is, in our opinion, striking and disturbing,” the researchers concluded.

Ditto for teaching styles, researchers say. Some excellent instructors caper in front of the blackboard like summer-theater Falstaffs; others are reserved to the point of shyness. “We have yet to identify the common threads between teachers who create a constructive learning atmosphere,” said Daniel T. Willingham, a psychologist at the University of Virginia and author of the book “Why Don’t Students Like School?”

But individual learning is another matter, and psychologists have discovered that some of the most hallowed advice on study habits is flat wrong. For instance, many study skills courses insist that students find a specific place, a study room or a quiet corner of the library, to take their work. The research finds just the opposite. In one classic 1978 experiment, psychologists found that college students who studied a list of 40 vocabulary words in two different rooms — one windowless and cluttered, the other modern, with a view on a courtyard — did far better on a test than students who studied the words twice, in the same room. Later studies have confirmed the finding, for a variety of topics.

The brain makes subtle associations between what it is studying and the background sensations it has at the time, the authors say, regardless of whether those perceptions are conscious. It colors the terms of the Versailles Treaty with the wasted fluorescent glow of the dorm study room, say; or the elements of the Marshall Plan with the jade-curtain shade of the willow tree in the backyard. Forcing the brain to make multiple associations with the same material may, in effect, give that information more neural scaffolding.

“What we think is happening here is that, when the outside context is varied, the information is enriched, and this slows down forgetting,” said Dr. Bjork, the senior author of the two-room experiment.

Varying the type of material studied in a single sitting — alternating, for example, among vocabulary, reading and speaking in a new language — seems to leave a deeper impression on the brain than does concentrating on just one skill at a time. Musicians have known this for years, and their practice sessions often include a mix of scales, musical pieces and rhythmic work. Many athletes, too, routinely mix their workouts with strength, speed and skill drills.

The advantages of this approach to studying can be striking, in some topic areas. In a study recently posted online by the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology, Doug Rohrer and Kelli Taylor of the University of South Florida taught a group of fourth graders four equations, each to calculate a different dimension of a prism. Half of the children learned by studying repeated examples of one equation, say, calculating the number of prism faces when given the number of sides at the base, then moving on to the next type of calculation, studying repeated examples of that. The other half studied mixed problem sets, which included examples of all four types of calculations grouped together. Both groups solved sample problems along the way, as they studied.

A day later, the researchers gave all of the students a test on the material, presenting new problems of the same type. The children who had studied mixed sets did twice as well as the others, outscoring them 77 percent to 38 percent. The researchers have found the same in experiments involving adults and younger children.

good study habits l

“When students see a list of problems, all of the same kind, they know the strategy to use before they even read the problem,” said Dr. Rohrer. “That’s like riding a bike with training wheels.” With mixed practice, he added, “each problem is different from the last one, which means kids must learn how to choose the appropriate procedure — just like they had to do on the test.”

These findings extend well beyond math, even to aesthetic intuitive learning. In an experiment published last month in the journal Psychology and Aging, researchers found that college students and adults of retirement age were better able to distinguish the painting styles of 12 unfamiliar artists after viewing mixed collections (assortments, including works from all 12) than after viewing a dozen works from one artist, all together, then moving on to the next painter.

The finding undermines the common assumption that intensive immersion is the best way to really master a particular genre, or type of creative work, said Nate Kornell, a psychologist at Williams College and the lead author of the study. “What seems to be happening in this case is that the brain is picking up deeper patterns when seeing assortments of paintings; it’s picking up what’s similar and what’s different about them,” often subconsciously.

Cognitive scientists do not deny that honest-to-goodness cramming can lead to a better grade on a given exam. But hurriedly jam-packing a brain is akin to speed-packing a cheap suitcase, as most students quickly learn — it holds its new load for a while, then most everything falls out.

“With many students, it’s not like they can’t remember the material” when they move to a more advanced class, said Henry L. Roediger III, a psychologist at Washington University in St. Louis. “It’s like they’ve never seen it before.”

When the neural suitcase is packed carefully and gradually, it holds its contents for far, far longer. An hour of study tonight, an hour on the weekend, another session a week from now: such so-called spacing improves later recall, without requiring students to put in more overall study effort or pay more attention, dozens of studies have found.

No one knows for sure why. It may be that the brain, when it revisits material at a later time, has to relearn some of what it has absorbed before adding new stuff — and that that process is itself self-reinforcing.

“The idea is that forgetting is the friend of learning,” said Dr. Kornell. “When you forget something, it allows you to relearn, and do so effectively, the next time you see it.”

That’s one reason cognitive scientists see testing itself — or practice tests and quizzes — as a powerful tool of learning, rather than merely assessment. The process of retrieving an idea is not like pulling a book from a shelf; it seems to fundamentally alter the way the information is subsequently stored, making it far more accessible in the future.

Dr. Roediger uses the analogy of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle in physics, which holds that the act of measuring a property of a particle (position, for example) reduces the accuracy with which you can know another property (momentum, for example): “Testing not only measures knowledge but changes it,” he says — and, happily, in the direction of more certainty, not less.

In one of his own experiments , Dr. Roediger and Jeffrey Karpicke, who is now at Purdue University, had college students study science passages from a reading comprehension test, in short study periods. When students studied the same material twice, in back-to-back sessions, they did very well on a test given immediately afterward, then began to forget the material.

But if they studied the passage just once and did a practice test in the second session, they did very well on one test two days later, and another given a week later.

“Testing has such bad connotation; people think of standardized testing or teaching to the test,” Dr. Roediger said. “Maybe we need to call it something else, but this is one of the most powerful learning tools we have.”

Of course, one reason the thought of testing tightens people’s stomachs is that tests are so often hard. Paradoxically, it is just this difficulty that makes them such effective study tools, research suggests. The harder it is to remember something, the harder it is to later forget. This effect, which researchers call “desirable difficulty,” is evident in daily life. The name of the actor who played Linc in “The Mod Squad”? Francie’s brother in “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn”? The name of the co-discoverer, with Newton, of calculus?

The more mental sweat it takes to dig it out, the more securely it will be subsequently anchored.

None of which is to suggest that these techniques — alternating study environments, mixing content, spacing study sessions, self-testing or all the above — will turn a grade-A slacker into a grade-A student. Motivation matters. So do impressing friends, making the hockey team and finding the nerve to text the cute student in social studies.

“In lab experiments, you’re able to control for all factors except the one you’re studying,” said Dr. Willingham. “Not true in the classroom, in real life. All of these things are interacting at the same time.”

But at the very least, the cognitive techniques give parents and students, young and old, something many did not have before: a study plan based on evidence, not schoolyard folk wisdom, or empty theorizing.

An article on Tuesday about the effectiveness of various study habits described incorrectly the Heisenberg uncertainty principle in physics. The principle holds that the act of measuring one property of a particle (position, for example) reduces the accuracy with which you can know another property (momentum, for example) — not that the act of measuring a property of the particle alters that property.

How we handle corrections

Learning Good Study Habits

Many of the tips for success for online students are the same as those for students in an onsite classroom. Consider asking your school’s student council to take on a study tips project. Following a few simple study tips can help students effectively learn new concepts and theories. There have been numerous published tips students can use as a guide for good study habits.

A good way to stay organized is to use folders so you child can keep his/her assignments until needed and it is a great way of staying organized. Once children reach the grades where homework and tests are part of the curriculum, there are many things parents can do to encourage good study habits. An effective way to study is to study before and while you do the homework. A little amount of homework may help elementary school students build study habits. Being organized and having homework routines are the most important things in helping your child develop good study habits for life.

All learning, however, is a process which settles into certain steps. Students with learning problems, however, may still have generally inefficient and ineffective study habits and skills. Becoming aware of your learning style will help you to understand why you sometimes get frustrated with common study methods.

Effective study habits are a very import part of the learning process. Good study habits are all about keeping to a daily routine and giving all subjects equal treatment. If your study habits are weak, take a “study skills” course or have someone show you good study habits. The problem is that those high school study habits are hard to shake. Hard work and good study habits are assets that should be nurtured. Motivation and study habits are obviously crucial as well. Good habits are important for all students to protect investments of time and money and to achieve educational goals. After that experience your study habits are permanently altered, this will help your own preparation as you start teaching and last a lifetime. The main priorities are class attendance, time management, and great studying habits are necessary workings for an academic success.

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Developing Good Study Habits

Developing good study habits mean you use your time well. Time, of course, is the most valuable resource we have; but it's unbelievably easy to waste.

Improving your time management means you can decrease the time it takes to do your work but still increase the quality of what you produce.

In other words, less can produce more.

Before we go any further, remember that this is about developing good habits, not skills. Skills make you better  at  studying; effective habits make you better  for  studying.

Here's how:

good study habits

18 Good Study Habits Explained

1. Best time of day

When do you work best? Are you an early bird, night owl, or something in between? Find your rhythm, then plan to study at your most productive time.

The next day, week, term or semester. Whatever time frames  you  use, time you invest to plan will pay for itself many times over. Speculate to accumulate.

3. Ask questions

Of all the good study habits you can develop, this one is key.  Just  ask . If you don’t tend to do this, remember: success is defined by the number of uncomfortable conversations you’re willing to have.

4. Get, then stay, organized

Arrange your space, stuff, time and technology so they help, rather than hurt you. Once you learn  how to get organized , make sure you stay that way.

good study habits l

5. Lower your resistance

One of the biggest time wasting ‘enemies’ you face? You! Part of you knows you should study, but another part of you wants to have some fun  now . Using this Quick Win method daily can make all the difference.

6. Practice the law of the farm

Stephen Covey suggested that it’s better to study in the right season of time rather than cramming it all in at the last minute.  A farmer can’t cram with crops. It has to be done in it’s season. Cramming may or may not get the grades, but it won’t get you an education.

7. Manage your time-wasters

Wasting time online often leaves you feeling bad afterwards. Software such as rescuetime  is good for managing it, but the worst thing to do to stop is to try and stop it completely.

Give yourself permission to waste time within limits.

8. Look at your goal

One simple but highly effective habit is to constantly remind yourself what you’re studying for. Your dream grade, posted on the wall next to your bed or computer means you’ll see and think about it daily. In fact, of all the tips on setting goals, this one's a 'must do'.

9. Do the worst first

Each day, break off a bit of your hardest task. First thing is often the best time to do this. It limits the effect of the task on your mind if you do it early. You also get to feel good all day because it's done.

10. Isolate yourself

Turn your communications off when you study. Even better, put them out of site. If your phone rings or an email announces itself, what happens?  Many people struggle with  managing interruptions  like these, and work grinds to a halt.

11. Finish wanting more

We all crave completion on anything, so leave yourself ‘high and dry’.  If you stop working at a natural break, it’s nice and neat, but harder to start up again.  Finish in the middle of a sente...

-- and you'll want to come back to it --

12. Time box it

Give a task a block or 'box' of time to get it started. It needs to be short enough not to put you off, even if it’s a few minutes.  Often, the thought of starting is the problem. But once you do, it’s easier to keep going.

Enough time boxed sessions will mean you finish it. Learn how to avoid procrastination by time boxing.

13. Use capture tools

Capture thoughts, ideas and concepts before they vanish into the ether.  Good study habits depend on  time management tools  that are simple to use, easy to access and consistently work as a way to capture information that would otherwise be lost.

The key word there?  ‘ Use’.

14. Drink water

Stay topped up with enough to concentrate fully. Keep a bottle nearby, because good study habits depend on hydration.

Tack on a pre-study task to prepare yourself. The more your senses engage with this, the more effective it is.  This is especially true with the sense of smell.  

A certain odour (preferably pleasant!) can become a powerful anchor for developing good study habits.

16. Sell it to yourself

Thoughts become things or, to put it another way, we do what we think about. The see-your-goal example above is a simple way to start the process of marketing to yourself. Visual images, such as posters, have an impact, as does your language.

If you’ve ‘got‘ to work, it’s less than appealing than if you ‘decide’ to.

17. Practice selective listening

Listening is tough.  When you do listen, do so really well. Identify the 20% of what's said that matters, and take it in. Use whatever capture tool you like -- just  do  it.

18. Do something for someone else

Help someone else, and you reinforced your own understanding.  Ideally this will be with another student, but it doesn’t have to be. You could even explain it to yourself in the mirror.

Just make sure there is no one else in the house if you do. :)

*   *   *

The vast majority of what we do is habitual. Developing good study habits is a process you learn.

Some study skills and habits are easy to implement, others less so.

Whatever your experience, give these a go -- you’ll be a better student for it.

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Teens: Helping your teen develop good study habits

G OOD study habits don’t always come easily or naturally. Most teens need to be taught how to develop them. Learning effective study strategies can reduce your child’s stress about school and improve his grades. And it may even help both of you to avoid battles over his homework. Here are two useful strategies to share with your child, based on suggestions in Academic Success Strategies for Adolescents with Learning Disabilities and ADHD (2003 Brookes Publishing Co).

Over “C” tests and assignments

Studying isn’t just a matter of sitting down to review notes. It also involves knowing what you need to study when and keeping track of assignments and tests.

Many middle school and high school teachers use an online grading programme. Many will list daily assignments and due dates, as well as grades. Your child can use this to plan his studying, using the following steps.

  • Create a calendar. Show your child how to use a large wall calendar and a set of markers to keep track of all the assignments. He can assign each class a different coloured marker and write all of his assignments, activities and appointments on the calendar. Or he can use an online calendar — and sync it with multiple devices, including his smartphone and laptop.
  • Create a weekly planner. Your child can break down information on the calendar to make a study plan for each week. Show him how to transfer his obligations for each week from the big calendar to a weekly planner, making sure he includes time to work on each assignment a few days before it’s due. Or have him print out a weekly list from his online calendar.
  • Create a daily checklist. It may seem like overkill, but breaking down the weekly plan into a daily checklist can also be very helpful. This to-do list helps your child keep track of his day and see how much progress he’s making. It’s a good idea for him to list each day’s tasks in the order he should do them and to write down the specific time of each class or appointment.

“Check” in to studying

Once your teen has a handle on what to study, the next step is learning how to study. This can be broken into a check list — with each letter in “check” standing for a step in the process of getting ready.

Consider location. Does your teen study better at school, the library or at home? Some teens work better away from distractions, while others like to have someone nearby in case they need help. Whatever your child chooses, when it’s homework time, that’s the environment he should study in.

  • Have all materials on hand. It can be very distracting to have to look for a pencil or a calculator in the middle of studying. Help your child find a place where he can store all his homework materials so they’re ready to go before he starts working.
  • Establish rewards. At first, you may need to help your child set up a reward system. For example, for every chapter he reads, you might let him use the computer for 10 minutes. Eventually, though, he’ll learn to reward himself, even if it’s just by eating a snack between English and algebra homework.
  • Create a study checklist. This includes all the steps your teen needs to take to get ready to do his homework and what he needs to study that day. Having everything listed out can make it easier for him to get started and prioritise his time. It may also make his homework load seem less overwhelming.
  • Keep a worry pad. A worry pad is a tool for teens who are easily distracted by their own thoughts. Instead of trying to deal with all the distracting things that keep popping into his head, your child can write them down on the pad. When he’s done studying, then he can deal with the things that distracted him.
  • Good study habits take time to develop. Having some strategies and using homework planners and time management sheets are a good start. If your child continues to struggle, though, you may want to consider a tutor.

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Scientists Found 5 Factors to Improve Brain Health and Lower Dementia Risk

Doctors say they may even be more helpful than medicine.

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  • New research links certain healthy habits to a sharper brain as you age.
  • The study followed participants for more than two decades.
  • Doctors say these are good habits to follow for brain and overall health.

There’s a general recipe for living well that includes regular physical activity, eating a healthy diet, and avoiding smoking. Now, new research finds five factors that can also help support brain health and sharp thinking as you age,

The researchers found a direct link between healthy lifestyle habits and a lowered risk of cognitive decline as the participants got older—that was true, even in people who had hallmark signs of developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia . Lead study author Klodian Dhana, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor of geriatrics and palliative medicine at the Rush Institute for Healthy Aging, says his team wanted to see if certain factors could influence whether someone develops Alzheimer’s or dementia. “As individuals age, there is a progressive accumulation of dementia-related brain pathologies,” he says. However, not everyone goes on to develop dementia, despite these changes in the brain. The goal of the study, Dr. Dhana says, was to see if lifestyle factors would make a difference in how likely someone is to develop dementia.

Here’s what Dr. Dhana and his team discovered.

Factors to improve brain health

The study participants were labeled as having a low-risk or healthy lifestyle if they did the following:

  • No smoking.
  • Doing moderate to vigorous exercise for at least 150 minutes a week.
  • Limit alcohol use to one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men.
  • Engage in brain-stimulating activities, like reading, playing games, and visiting museums.
  • Follow a variation of the MIND diet.

Study participants received a healthy lifestyle score within these areas and, the healthier they were, the better their brain health. The researchers found that for every one-point increase in the healthy lifestyle score, the lower the amount of beta-amyloid plaques (hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease ) and the higher their score on cognitive tests that looked at factors like memory and attention span.

An editorial that was published alongside the study pointed out that the benefits of following these healthy lifestyle factors were still there, regardless of whether the study participants had signs of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in their brains.

Why are these habits good for the brain?

At baseline, these lifestyle factors and habits are known to be good for you. “Following a healthy lifestyle is good for the brain,” says Amit Sachdev, M.D., M.S., medical director in the Department of Neurology at Michigan State University.

These factors in particular “have been investigated and shown to be associated with slower cognitive decline and a lower risk of dementia,” Dr. Dhana says.

While plant-based diets have been linked to healthier brains, the MIND diet is a specific kind of plant-based diet. It incorporates several elements of the Mediterranean diet , like plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, olive oil, and whole grains, explains Jessica Cording, M.S., R.D., author of The Little Book of Game-Changers: 50 Healthy Habits For Managing Stress & Anxiety .

“Previous studies on similar diet patterns have shown that this style of eating is very rich in polyphenols, which are powerful plant compounds that have been shown to have neuroprotective properties,” Cording says. “That’s a big piece of the puzzle.” The foods featured in this diet can help tamp down on bodily inflammation and promote good gut and heart health, she points out.

That diet, along with regular exercise, limiting alcohol use, and avoiding smoking is good for the cardiovascular system, Cording says. “What’s good for the heart and blood vessels is generally good for the brain—we have tons of blood vessels in the brain,” she says.

Clifford Segil, D.O. , a neurologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, CA., agrees. “A healthy lifestyle increases your heart health and brain health,” he says. “A healthy heart can only help your brain.”

Research has also found that doing mentally stimulating activities is linked with a lowered risk of developing dementia. “The thing I most often recommend to patients for their brain health is structured cognitive exercise,” Dr. Segil says. “That can mean taking a class at a junior college. With muscles, if you don’t use it, you lose it. The same is true of your brain.”

Dr. Segil stresses the importance of healthy lifestyle habits for brain health, noting that he sees patients do better after making lifestyle tweaks than they do taking certain medications to lower the risk of cognitive decline.

Overall, Dr. Dhana says the lifestyle factors laid out in his study may help provide cognitive benefits over time. But, if you’re concerned about your own risk of dementia or have a family history of the disease, he recommends seeing a doctor for personalized recommendations.

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  1. 11 Good Study Habits to Develop

    Good study habits include finding a quiet location to study, taking breaks, settings goals, and taking practice tests. Here's the full list, and the psychological reasons why they work. Studying can be hard. The good news is that anybody can develop good study habits to make studying more effective, efficient, and enjoyable.

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    Designate a study area. The best study spot is one that is quiet, well-lit, and in a low-traffic area. Make sure there is a clear workspace to study and write on. Everyone's needs are different, so it is important you find a spot that works for you. Study in short bursts. For every 30 minutes you study, take a short 10-15 minute break to ...

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    Here are 13 good study habit examples you can use to enhance your learning style, develop a quality study routine and start achieving your educational goals. Let's get to it. Table of Contents #1 - Keep Track of Important Dates Carrying different dates around in your head is a surefire way to forget or start muddling up important dates.

  7. Brain Power: 10 Tips for Creating Good Study Habits

    Try to stick to a regular routine that allows 7-9 hours of quality sleep to keep your brain firing on all cylinders. The same study found that course grades for students averaging 6.5 hours of sleep were down 50% from other students who averaged 7.5 hours of sleep. Try to meet a few people in each of your classes that you feel comfortable ...

  8. 9 Good Study Habits to Be Mentally and Physically Healthy

    1. Get your Nutrients. The stress of exam season makes it tempting to comfort eat. Whether your guilty pleasure is sugary iced coffee from your favorite chain or a chocolate candy from the store, it's okay to indulge yourself now and then. But that key word is moderation. Your body needs fuel to run.

  9. How to Build Study Habits That Last

    Here are nine valuable tips to help you develop and apply effective study habits. 1. Determine Your Learning Style. While it's true that research has proven that learning styles aren't as important as we once thought, they're still a valuable tool in examining your learning preferences. The four learning styles most of us prefer are visual ...

  10. How to Build Good Study Habits: 5 Areas to Focus On

    To start, we should define "habit". A habit is an action (or series of actions) that you perform automatically in response to a particular cue. For instance, the sound of your alarm going off might cue the habit of getting out of bed and walking into the kitchen to make coffee (or, for some of us, hitting the snooze button).

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  12. How to Develop Good Study Habits for College (with Pictures)

    5. Take breaks. No one can study for hours on end without getting frustrated and burnt out. Breaks help you relax, recharge, and approach a situation with new eyes. Make a habit of studying for one hour and then taking a five minute break to do something you enjoy, like go on social media or text a friend.

  13. 16 Study Tips for College: Building good study habits to succeed

    15. Take Breaks. Continuing from the previous point, taking breaks is important. Breaks give you a boost of productivity, reset, and prevent burnout. It might seem like you need to use all the time you possibly can to study, back-to-back, but your brain will start to slow down if you don't give it a chance to relax.

  14. 22 Study Habits That Guarantee Good Grades

    Habit #1: Create a weekly schedule When you schedule time for a particular task like studying, you're saying to yourself, "I'm going to focus on studying at this time, on this date, and it's going to take this number of hours." Once it's down in writing, it becomes a reality and you're more likely to stick to it.

  15. 27 Good Study Habits of Straight-A Students

    Good Study Habits 1. Time Management Time management refers to being able to efficiently allocate your time so you don't run out of time, and so you have enough time to allocate to all important tasks. As a basis, you could initiate a dedicated study schedule, specifying the time slots for each subject.

  16. Developing Good Study Habits for Academic Success: The Power of Habits

    Asking questions Making connections Visualizing Engaging with the text Effective Study Techniques Creating outlines Using visual aids Testing yourself Taking breaks Using technology Teaching others Setting goals Practicing self-care Varying your study techniques

  17. Forget What You Know About Good Study Habits (Published 2010)

    The researchers have found the same in experiments involving adults and younger children. Ellen Weinstein. "When students see a list of problems, all of the same kind, they know the strategy to ...

  18. Learning Good Study Habits

    Good study habits are all about keeping to a daily routine and giving all subjects equal treatment. If your study habits are weak, take a "study skills" course or have someone show you good study habits. The problem is that those high school study habits are hard to shake. Hard work and good study habits are assets that should be nurtured.

  19. How to Develop Effective Study Habits: A Step-by-Step Guide for

    Developing good study habits is essential for students of all ages. Students can learn to focus and stay on task by forming a regular study routine, improving their productivity and academic performance. Good study habits also help students develop a sense of responsibility and independence, preparing them for the challenges of college and beyond.

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    Find your rhythm, then plan to study at your most productive time. 2. Plan. The next day, week, term or semester. Whatever time frames you use, time you invest to plan will pay for itself many times over. Speculate to accumulate. 3. Ask questions. Of all the good study habits you can develop, this one is key.

  21. Study Habits: How and Why to Practice Effective Studying

    Practicing good habits regularly allows you to be your most productive and efficient. Successful students tend to become successful professionals, and this success is often built on well-established habits. The best study habits turn into good habits for any time. Unfortunately, students do not generally learn study skills in school.

  22. (PDF) THE LEARNERS' STUDY HABITS AND ITS RELATION ON ...

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  25. These 5 Habits Improve Brain Health and Lower Dementia Risk: Study

    New research links certain healthy habits to a sharper brain as you age. The study followed participants for more than two decades. Doctors say these are good habits to follow for brain and ...