5 Strategies to Develop Good Study Habits

Do you have a test coming up? A paper due? A big presentation perhaps? No matter what you have on your plate, developing good study habits can be the foundation you need to succeed. The five helpful tips in this article focus on a variety of areas related to your learning. Utilize one, two, or all five as you work to engage in deeper learning and understanding.


1. Lean Into Your Learning Style

Auditory? Visual? Kinesthetic? Understanding your learning style can make studying more enjoyable and more effective. This strategy focuses on working smarter, not harder. By focusing on your strengths as a learner, you can grasp the material more quickly and on a deeper level. Some people can grasp the material more quickly using one vehicle, while others a different method.

Which learning style are you? (Free Online Learning Style Test)

  • Auditory- utilize rhyming, music, lecture recordings, audiobooks, mnemonics

  • Visual/Spatial- use pictures, colors, video/presentations, mind-mapping, etc.

  • Kinesthetic- movement-oriented, doing to learn, skits, experiments, physical

  • Verbal- understand through spoken language, speech giving, vocabulary focus

  • Solitary- learns best alone, has access to a lot of material, process own thoughts

  • Social- learn in groups, through discussion, through other perspectives/reactions

  • Logical- highly structured reasoning, thought experiments, mind games, patterns, and organization [1]


While most people tend to lean towards a dominant learning style, when you access material using more than one style, learning can improve significantly [2].


2. Secure a Study Space for Success

How often do you find yourself studying in a different location? It is crucial to find a few locations that work for you and stick with them. Studies show that having more than one study location can benefit learning as you can make multiple associations with the material at hand. With that said, it entirely depends on your preference [3]. If you determine that a desk in your bedroom is the best study space for you, be consistent. Each time you go to sit down at that desk, your brain will know that it is 'study time' and your body will be ready to engage with you as you begin to work.


Things to prioritize:

  • Atmosphere- A quiet location to minimize interruptions and distractions

  • Dependability- is the space always available to you?

  • Consistency- will the space provide the same environment each time you utilize it?

Things to avoid:

  • Studying in bed or on a comfy couch

  • When entering a place of sleep or relaxation, our mind and body recognize and acclimate as such, leading to difficulty with focusing on the work at hand

  • High Stimulation areas

  • Some people can do well working in a coffee shop or highly populated areas, but overall the more stimuli in the area, the easier it is to get distracted and lose focus


3. Deny those Darn Distractions

In a world of instant everything, communication and access are at our fingertips (literally). All too often we sit down to study or accomplish a task that should take an hour… 50 text messages, 10 email checks, two 20-minute Instagram rabbit holes, and 5 snapchats later, we find ourselves working on that same task three hours later. It is vital to develop discipline when it comes to avoiding unnecessary distractions.

  • Disconnect- If your studying does not require the internet, turn off your wi-fi, or turn your cell phone’s airplane mode on

  • Cell Phone- This is easily the biggest distractor to a productive study session

  • Turn your phone off, use airplane mode, or utilize a notification-blocking study session app like Focus-To-Do or Forest

  • Physically remove your phone from your field of vision, leave it in another room, or give it to a parent or friend to hold on to for a set amount of time

  • Study Groups/Partners- Choose to study with another person or two, you’re less likely to check your phone if you’re with the people you’d be messaging

  • Music- while music with lyrics and a fast pace can do more harm than good, studies show that listening to instrumental/classical soft music is linked to reducing stress and increasing focus [4]


4. Find a Friend or Faculty

At times we can feel like we have to do it all on our own. This is not the case. There are people, professionals, and resources all around us just waiting to be accessed.

  • Study groups- There are many benefits to studying in a group, from navigating difficult problems together to explaining problems that others may be struggling to comprehend. Study groups allow for individuals of different skills and learning styles to come together, provide positive encouragement, hold each other accountable, all while having a more joyful learning experience.

  • Professor/Teacher/Office Hours- When in doubt, ask your teacher. Not only will a conversation or tutoring help with comprehension, but you are also demonstrating interest and a desire to learn beyond the classroom.

  • Online Resources- There are ample resources where experts teach the very lesson or cover the topic you are working on. Utilize sites like Khan Academy to further engage in your learning process.


5. Balance, Balance, Balance

Regardless of what field you are heading into, what test you are studying for, or the essay you are writing, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and work/life balance is crucial. While this may not be a specific ‘study’ habit, the habits you develop in your day-to-day life will have an incredible effect throughout your life.

  • Sleep- Ask any student if they sleep enough and nine out of ten times the answer is ‘No’. While the majority of people need between seven and eight and a half hours of sleep, students often get less. Sleep deprivation is linked to poor cognitive function, decreased attention span, and worse performance on tests [5]

  • Eat- Maintain a healthy diet, fueling your body with nutritious foods to help focus, energy, and cognitive functioning.

  • Exercise- We all have heard the phrase ‘Get your blood flowing.’ This is where you put it into action. By increasing blood flow, oxygen is circulated to your brain to increase functionality, memory, and connectivity. Other benefits to exercise? An increase in energy, improved physical and mental health, etc. [6]

  • Plan- Through staying organized, developing a schedule, and setting goals, you can begin to put plans into action. If you are a high school student, in addition to your schoolwork, there is often a large amount of effort needed to handle the college admissions process, especially if you’re planning to apply to an Ivy League College. By frontloading your work, planning ahead, and seeking the proper assistance, what was once overwhelming can become increasingly manageable. [7][8]


The bottom line is that studying is not a one-size-fits-all model. Take the time to look at your current practice and implement strategies that work to fit your needs. Improvement is always around the corner!




Sources

1. Develop Good Habits. “7 Styles for Learning New Things (and Actually Remembering Them!),

https://www.developgoodhabits.com/learning-new-things/.” Accessed March 16, 2022.


2. Forbes. “How Combined Learning Style Not Just Visual Or Kinesthetic Can Help You Succeed,

https://www.forbes.com/sites/tjmccue/2019/01/30/how-combined-learning-style-not-just-visual-or-kinesthetic-can-help-you-succeed/?sh=63ebbae27d9c.” Accessed March 16, 2022.


3. New York Times. "Forget What You Know About Good Study Habits, https://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/07/health/views/07mind.html." Accessed March 15, 2022.


4. University of Wollongong Australia. "Is it OK to listen to music while studying?, https://www.uow.edu.au/media/2019/is-it-ok-to-listen-to-music-while-studying.php." Accessed March 15, 2022.


5. Forbes. "New Studies Show What Sleep Loss Does To The Brain And Cognition, https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2019/11/29/new-studies-show-what-sleep-loss-does-to-the-brain-and-cognition/." Accessed March 16, 2022.


6. Harvard Health Publishing. “Regular exercise changes the brain to improve memory, thinking skills

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/regular-exercise-changes-brain-improve-memory-thinking-skills-201404097110.” Accessed March 16, 2022.


7. Solomon Admissions Consulting. “How College Admissions Works, https://www.solomonadmissions.com/post/how-college-admissions-work.” Accessed March 15, 2022.


8. Solomon Admissions Consulting. “How to Get Into Ivy League Schools, https://www.solomonadmissions.com/post/how-to-get-into-ivy-league-schools.” Accessed March 15, 2022.