Studying is a skill that can set you up for success—not just in high school and college, but for many years to come. Better studying habits can get you better grades in school and better scores on standardized tests, but it can also help you do better in your career.
For example, if you’re in the accounting field, you’ll need to study effectively if you want to pass the CPA exam. Without CPA certification, your career could eventually become stagnated. The CPA test is grueling for people who aren’t prepared for it—but the right study habits can make it a breeze.
Of course, studying more effectively isn’t just about studying for a greater number of hours. Instead of focusing on studying more, you should be focused on studying better. So how can you do it?
Important Studying Tips
Follow these steps if you want to become a more efficient studier:
1. Dedicate some time each day to studying. We all know by now that cramming isn’t effective. That’s because long-term memory is better served with consistency and repetition. If you review material for 5 hours the night before a test, your brain won’t have time to commit that information to memory—nor will it view this information as important. If you, instead, dedicate a little bit of time each day to studying, you’ll be much better off. Start with just 15 minutes a day, and consider increasing this time as you get closer to the exam.
2. Be consistent in your habits. Consistency is key. With greater consistency, you’ll have a much easier time remembering what you learned. You’ll also develop a habit, which will be easy to self-sustain after enough iterations. Make studying a daily occurrence, or study multiple times a day. Do it at the same time and the same place to reinforce it further.
3. Eliminate distractions while studying. It’s not really studying if you have a TV on in the background. A bit of gentle music won’t hurt, but your study environment should be free of anything that commands your attention. You need to focus on the material without getting pulled away.
4. Prepare for the environment. Many people study religiously, only to find themselves anxious and overwhelmed when they see the testing environment for the first time. Don’t let this happen to you; visit the testing environment in advance and prepare for it. Visualize yourself in this environment and study in it if possible.
5. Quiz yourself. Use flashcards, interactions with other people, and other strategies to quiz yourself on the material you’re studying. Rather than reviewing the same facts over and over, present these facts in the form of answerable questions. It’s a much more effective strategy for test preparation.
6. Use different techniques. Everyone learns in different ways, and you likely have a studying technique that you immediately prefer. However, it’s also important to study in a variety of different ways. Different techniques force your brain to work in different, sometimes complementary ways. You’ll learn faster and retain more by switching things up.
7. Get lots of sleep. Sleep is how the brain consolidates and retains information; in other words, it’s the gateway to better learning. If you’re not getting enough sleep, even the best studying habits will be disrupted. Aim to get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night, especially in the nights leading up to an exam.
8. Study with a group. There are many advantages to studying in a group. You’ll get to hear things from the perspectives of others, you’ll get to experiment with different studying techniques, and you’ll benefit from the peer pressure of attending the study group regularly. You might also experience lower anxiety and bond with other people.
9. Study individually as well. While studying in a group is highly beneficial, there are also advantages to studying alone. The best approach is to use a mix of both individual and group studying to get the best of both worlds.
10. Use professional studying services. If you’re struggling with your own studying practices or if you just want to make sure you give the best possible performance, consider enlisting the help of professional studying services. It costs a bit of money, but you’ll be in contact with professionals whose only job is to make sure you do well.
Learning From Yourself
The more time you spend dedicated to studying more effectively, the more you’re going to learn about your own habits and preferences. Are you the type of person who learns quickly with visual cues and images? Or are you better off reading text phrases? Take note of these quirks and gradually tweak your studying strategy to perfection.