School life can be quite hectic at times. You have to complete all your assignments on time, learn so many new and diverse things, study for your exams, pay attention to extracurricular activities, and so on. On top of all this, you also have your hobbies and other things you may love to do. It can be quite hard to balance all of these things.
When it comes to your studies, it is only natural that you want to do a good job. You want to learn and retain as many things as possible. Not only does this help you grow as a person, but it also helps you get good grades in your exams. This is where forming a study strategy can be so helpful. It can help you learn faster, and you can retain information for longer. Let’s take a look at 15 such study strategy techniques that work.
1. Set The Right Conditions
The first thing that you need to do is set the right conditions. There are a lot of things that influence your study. If you tweak these conditions, they can have a positive impact on your ability to learn. So, what are these conditions? For starters, the place where you study is definitely the main one. It should be well-lit, away from the noise, and have good airflow.
Another constant factor is a good night’s sleep. If you don’t get enough sleep, you won’t be able to concentrate well. So make sure you get 7-8 hours of sleep every day. The other thing you need to do is eliminate as many distractions as possible when you are studying. Yes, this means putting away your phone, as that is probably your biggest distraction!
2. The SQ3R Study Strategy
What if there was a way you could move much faster through the many chapters, you have to study and yet retain most of the information? The SQ3R is one such study strategy that will help you do that. It stands for Survey, Question, Read, Recite, and Review. Let’s take a look at each.
First, it would be best if you surveyed a chapter. You start by skimming through it and taking note of the headings, subheadings, images, etc. Then you form questions about what the chapter is about and what you already know about it. Then, you need to read the entire chapter while looking for answers that you had formulated.
After that, you have to summarize each section once you’ve read it (write freely in your own words what you learned from the section). Lastly, review what you have learned by answering the questions in step two. This will help you gain an overall understanding of the chapter.
3. The Feynman Study Strategy
The Feynman study strategy is a very important and popular study strategy named after Richard Feynman, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist. It is a four-step process that will help you understand any topic with relative ease. Let’s take a look at these four steps.
● The first step is to write the subject or topic you are studying on top of a page.
● The second step is to write down the explanation of the topic in a very simple manner. Act as if you are teaching someone else who doesn’t have any prior understanding of the topic.
● Third, review what you’ve written in the second step and identify any errors you have made. Go back and correct these errors.
● In the final step, you need to see if you have used technical words or other jargon that may make your text a bit difficult to understand. If so, you have to replace these technical terms with simple words.
4. The Leitner System
This is a study strategy that makes use of flashcards. In this, you create flashcards for the many different topics you have to study. Then, you make about 5 boxes and place all cards in box number 1. All the cards in box number 1 need to be read every day. Then when you think you have memorized these cards, you can place them in box number 2. The cards in this box need to be read every two days.
When you are reading a card from box number 2, if you get it right, keep it in box number 3, otherwise, it’ll have to go back to box number 1. Cards in box number 3 have to be read every 4 days and cards in boxes 4 and 5 have to be read every 9 and 14 days. This study strategy helps you retain information more easily.
5. Using Color-Coded Notes
You must have seen other students using highlighters or colored pens to maintain their notes. There is a reason why they do this. There have been studies that have proven that color can influence your memory performance. Certain colors like red and yellow can even create a positive perception of the study material in the mind of a student and make it easier to memorize them.
So, what you can do is organize your notes by color. You can highlight important headings and sub-headings with red color and important information with yellow. Make sure you don’t overdo it, or everything will start to look the same, and the color-coding study strategy won’t have any effects. This method can also save you a lot of time during an exam where you can quickly skim through your notes and be ready.
6. Study Before Bed
We all know how important sleep is. It helps us recharge physically and mentally. It also helps organize what we have learned during the day. As such, it plays a critical role in your cognitive functions. That is why you should get enough sleep every day, which I have already mentioned above. However, there is another way you can use sleep to learn and retain information better.
If you study for a few hours up until your bedtime, you will have a better chance of retaining what you studied. You could review your notes or flashcards just before going to sleep and take a look at them again once you wake up in the morning. This is a much more effective study strategy than studying all night before an exam.
7. Exercise Before Studying
One of the most common reasons why students aren’t able to study is because they may lack the necessary motivation. Due to the lethargic lifestyle of an internet-driven generation, energy levels may be low among students. This negatively impacts their desire to study. One of the best ways to combat this is to exercise regularly (especially just before a study session).
Believe it or not, this is actually a highly effective study strategy. Exercising can fight fatigue, increase your energy levels in general, increase brain function, improves mood, reduces stress level, and improves memory. All these are very valuable to a student. Also, exercising doesn’t have to be vigorous or done for a long duration. A mere 20-minute exercise, a walk in the park, cycling, etc. is enough to get you going.
8. Retrieval Practice
Learning isn’t a one-time thing. No matter how clearly you understand a topic, you can forget it after a certain amount of time. This happens because the brain keeps learning new things, and the old ones might get a little hazy in the process. After all, the brain has its limits too. So, recalling what you have learned in the past becomes very important. It is this study strategy that is known as retrieval practice.
There are a number of ways you can refresh what you have learned in the past. You can use flashcards and go through them periodically (about every week or every other week). You can also use practice tests to see how much you have retained and refresh your memory at the same time. Or you could simply open up your notebooks and go through them once in a while. This will supercharge your learning process.
9. Spacing Your Practice
Have you ever studied a night or two before the exam, hoping to learn just enough to pass a test? Well, a lot of students have this bad habit, and, as you probably already know, it is not an effective study strategy. What you need to do instead is spread your learning over a period of time. This technique is known as spaced practice. It allows your brain to reinforce the neural patterns pertaining to what you’ve learned.
To practice this technique, you can do the following. First, you can learn something in the class or at home. The next day, you need to revisit and refine what you have learned. Do the same thing the day after that. Now, after a week, again, go through the same material. See what you were able to remember and what you forgot. Learn again what you forgot. After two weeks from then, revisit the same material. You’ll realize that your brain becomes far better at retaining information.
10. Take Advantage of Technology
These days there are many technological tools that you can use to really enhance your learning. In fact, this is a top study strategy for an increasing number of students. All you need is a smartphone or a tablet. There are apps (both free and paid) that can provide you with a personalized learning experience. They can teach you a particular topic in a unique way (through graphics, animations, videos, diagrams, etc.) and study your learning habits, strengths, and weaknesses.
The apps can then tweak their teaching methods so that you can learn better in your own unique way. The use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the apps makes things much more effective. There is a reason why so many schools and colleges are embracing the move to digital education. It makes note-taking, organizing, learning, sharing, retaining, and all other aspects of education much more streamlined.
11. Listen To Music
At first glance, it may seem like listening to music while studying may be a huge distraction. And yes, the majority of music will indeed be a distraction. However, there are certain types of music that can actually enhance your cognitive skills. That is why many artists, writers, designers, and other creative individuals listen to music while they work. It has been found that classical music, in particular, aids in the learning process.
Other types of instrumental music that are easily available online (mostly for free) can make memorizing and retaining information faster. This type of music can engage those parts of the brain that are responsible for focus, memorizing, making predictions, forming connections, and more. Of course, not everyone will find this study strategy effective. A lot is dependent on individual preferences. So, if you find that listening to a certain type of music helps you study better, go for it!
12. Try To Teach A Friend
Have you ever noticed how easy a particular topic becomes when you are teaching it to a friend? You might get valuable insights, clear your own confusion, and get better clarity about any topic just by teaching it to someone else. This is a not-so-often talked about study strategy that could serve you well. In fact, this is backed by research. Researchers have discovered that when you learn with the expectation to teach, you tend to learn better and faster.
This most probably happens because the brain feels a greater need to organize what you have learned in the best way possible. So, you gain more clarity and a comprehensive understanding of the topic. Also, when you are teaching someone else, you try to do it in as simple a manner as possible. You do this so that they can learn without any difficulty. But in the process, you are teaching yourself in the simplest manner as well. So, if you can, grab hold of your friend and teach him a chapter that you might be struggling with.
13. Learn By Making Connections
One of the best ways that our brains learn is by making connections. It is popularly known as “connecting the dots”. There are so many things you learn in any given topic. If you try to learn them individually, it might be hard for your brain to store all of that information. However, if you learn by making a connection between all the different things, the brain will find it much easier to learn and retain all of that. This is because you are learning in a way that is natural to the brain.
In fact, many scientists believe that fast learners use this study strategy (sometimes without even realizing it). Slow learners, on the other hand, look at information as siloed bits and pieces. That is why their brains process these bits and pieces slowly. So, how do you use this technique? Well, when you are studying any topic, try to ask how one section relates to the other. Try to gain a bird’s eye view of the chapter and what it really wants to communicate. Once you have that understanding, then you can dive into the details.
14. Make Acronyms
You must have already used acronyms to memorize something easily before. This is typically the case when a topic has many subheadings, and memorizing them individually can be hard. So, making an acronym using the first letter of each subheading is an effective study strategy. But make sure that these acronyms are easy to remember as well. Otherwise, if you can’t remember the acronym, you will forget the whole thing. In an exam, this can be catastrophic!
If possible, you can also make a story out of the topic you are reading. There are many chapters (especially ones on history) that can be viewed as a story. So, when you are learning about a historical character, you can pretend as if it’s a storybook or you’re watching a movie. Form images in your mind and let the story play out. That way, it will become extremely easy for you to recall all the information when you need it.
15. Change Location
If you have been finding it hard to concentrate lately, you may need a change in location. Sometimes, your brain needs a change of scenery to be able to concentrate on studying. The most common places that people usually go to for this purpose are cafes, parks, libraries, the roof of their house, etc. You might find it much easier to pay attention to a subject matter if the environment you are in is conducive to learning (most commonly, a library).
You can even cycle to most of these places so that you can exercise before you study. This will make even more of a difference. In the end, nobody understands how you learn better, and you should make use of any study strategy that will enhance your learning experience.
Finally, we at seeingthebrightside believe in self-development, improvement, and better performance. Check out some highly recommended online training and certification that will help you achieve your dreams.
1. Expert Rating: Online Certifications for students and professionals who are looking to add new skills and credentials to their resume.
2. Exam Edge: Preparing you for certification exams with practice tests in 20 different industries including healthcare, nursing, teaching, and business.
3. 360 Training: Regulatory Approved Training (for the United States and Canada only)