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Study Time -- How to Maximize Your Study Time

Updated on June 3, 2012

Tips for Study Time

If you're in school, you need to know how to study. Simple as that. Studying affects how you'll do on tests and maximizes your GPA. If you're in college, an excellent GPA can help with cutting costs by making you eligible for scholarships and other outside funding opportunties. The same applies to your high school GPA, as well as making you eligible for a broader range of good schools. As long as you don't lose your scholarship by accidentally vandalizing somebody's personal property, you should be set.

And yes, I do know someone who lost their scholarship by trying to jump over a car. They landed on the hood and dented it, and the school revoked their scholarship for vandalism.

It may seem as though I'm stating the obvious here, but the most important thing is to always do your homework. Attending classes regularly is obviously important, but getting your daily homework is even more so. If you must miss a class (or it's an incredibly gorgeous day and you feel you've actually earned this break by having otherwise excellent attendence), simply arrange to get lecture notes and the homework assignment, and you should be fine.

I don't recommend skipping on a regular basis. But if you do, be responsible about it.

Homework is a guide to what's on the tests. If you do your homework regularly -- even if the teacher never looks at it or grades it, which is common in many colleges -- than you solidify the concepts in your head.

Having a clean, distraction-free study area is also key. Turn off your cellphone. If you're doing your homework on your laptop, keep your internet browser closed until you need to research something. Don't try to study in front of the tv, or even in the vicinity of it. If you have small children, they should be on a firm sleep schedule, so aim your study time for when they're in school themselves or asleep.

I grant, if you have an infant, this is going to throw off the entire article.

Many people will recommend studying in the library. This depends on your personal preference and level of distractibility. I don't like to study in the library, myself, because many patrons in my hometown seem to have lost (or never learned) the concept of hushed voices.

Organize your materials and notes so they're within reach. If you're the type of person who works better in a cluttered mess, kudos to you. I envy you. If you prefer a clean space, have an area that is yours alone and keep it clean.

Taking study breaks every 15 minutes to half an hour is very useful. A 5 or 10 minute study break to let your mind rest and the concepts percolate is just a Good Idea. It may sound counter-productive to be stopping and starting constantly, but it's actually quite helpful.

In fact, don't think of it as stopping and starting, since the purpose of a study break is to help your mind assimilate the information you've just learned before you move on to the next section. You're just . . . continuing to study in an alternative manner.

With this in mind, realize that the way you spend your study breaks is important. A study break is not an excuse to go watch tv while you zone out, or to surf your favorite website for 20 minutes. How you spend your study breaks affect your overall study time. Try to find a relaxing, short-term activity to do. I smoke a cigarette, but obviously everyone isn't going to do that.

You could grab a beverage. Do a spot of light cleaning. Throw a load in the laundry. Chat with your study partner about the class and what you find interesting or confusing in the subject matter. Maybe just set an alarm and play Solitaire or Minesweeper until it goes off.

Regarding study partners: they are helpful, but you should choose them with care. It's fun to hang out with your friends, but if they're going to be a distraction, find someone else. You want to be concentrating on your work, not on what Eric did to Lanie yesterday.

Now, how much time should you spend studying? Many professors recommend at least 2 hours of study time a day for every 5 credits. If you're taking 12 credits (full time at most colleges), this works out to roughly 25 hours of study time a week. That may seem daunting, especially with real life to get to -- friends you want to see, clubs you want to go to, work you have to be to. It is possible, though.

First, work out a schedule and stick to it. You may have to sacrifice a little time with your friends, but hey. Everybody needs a little space, right? Besides, you don't have to ignore them entirely.

In any case, doing a few hours of study on a daily basis is more effective and less time-consuming than a frantic cram session right before a test.

Set goals and work towards them. Tell yourself, "I am going to read the assigned chapter/ lecture notes and do the textbook work at (insert time) every day."

If you can't do 2 hours per class, shoot for an hour and a half, or even a little over an hour. Spend your time wisely and take shorter breaks the less time you study.

If the reward of better test scores and a consistently high GPA isn't enough for you, then go ahead and reward yourself for your diligence. Studying hard and keeping up good grades takes self-discipline, yes. That does not by any means require you to stop enjoying life.

Tell yourself and your friends or roommates that you want to get X amount of work done by a certain day, and if you achieve your goal then the group of you will go out and have some fun. Or promise yourself whatever item you've been lusting after in your favorite store. If you're short on money, find an inexpensive thing that you enjoy. Go to the park and swing on the swings. I don't know, whatever floats your boat.

If possible, treat yourself to a gift card for i-tunes or your favorite store. That's the gift that keeps on giving.

Speaking of music, the music you play is important. It also probably changes from subject to subject. When I study math, I listen to things like "Classics for Meditation" -- not my normal listening fare. When I study psychology or English, I have a playlist of my favorite songs from contemporary artists playing. Linkin Park isn't nearly as distracting if you already grasp the core of the subject matter.

Evaluate which subjects you do best in, and adjust your music accordingly.

I've heard the recommendations that you should only listen to the classics when you're studying, and I'm sure that probably does help. I'm just as sure that if I can study effectively with the tunes I like on, I'm going to do it. Just be reasonable and realistic about when you need to turn off your music or switch to something else.

Speaking of subjects that you do well in -- don't do them first. Trust me on this. It may seem easier to start out with something relatively easy that you probably enjoy -- but then you're finishing up your study session by wrestling with a subject you don't particularly like. That doesn't leave a good impression on your mind, and you're less likely to stick to your study session schedule.

Rather, bone up on the subjects you dislike first, then give yourself a mini-reward by breezing through the subjects you find intriguing and enjoyable.

Finally, remember that practicing good study skills helps you develop time management habits that will be useful in the real world. Nobody likes to be rushed for time, and applying these tips will make you more aware of the passage of the day.


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    • profile image

      kostas 7 years ago

      Hi...very useful article...I study to become an agronomist in the faculty of crop production.It's a really difficult task cause we've got too many lessons.I am already applying those tips..I also drink one or two cups of coffee per day-especially when i've got lots of work...well university needs many little secrifices!!!

    • Hope Wilbanks profile image

      Hope Wilbanks 9 years ago from Louisiana

      Great study tips!