Studying Smarter, Not Harder

As much as we’d love to push studying off, midterm (and final) season are always approaching. It’s easy to shove them in the back of your mind when you’re under the assumption that you have time; however, when you stop to consider the other assignments you have between now and then, do you really have time?

Studying is a vital skill you’ll need in any type of education you pursue, especially in graduate school. But don’t worry! Here are some ways to maximize your study time so you can get the most out of your education.

1. Set The Tone

Studying in the wrong setting can often do more damage than not studying at all. Multiple distractions (including friends, loud noises, etc.) make it easy to confuse concepts, as your not giving them your full attention. Instead, try finding a quiet room that is free of distractions so there is nothing else you can focus on. Being alone in comfortable clothes with a relaxing “study time” playlist never fails.

The environment you choose to study in affects your productivity just as much as the mental state you’re in. It’s important NOT to anticipate the worst. In fact, an article from Lifehack actually explained that overestimating your workload leads you to procrastinate even more. So, relax, take a deep breath, and take it one step at a time.

2. Prepare Ahead of Time

Teach Yourself

Before studying comes preparation. The easiest way to lighten the amount of content you need to study is by teaching yourself the topics first. This way, any confusing concepts can be better explained in class. It will give you a stronger understanding of what you need to learn and help you remember it, considering you would have seen it used at least twice.

3. Fuel Yourself

Nothing is more distracting when you’re studying than a growling stomach. Try to eat about 30 minutes before you study so that your body and mind stay fueled while you dive into content. Depending on how long you’ll be studying for, plan to bring filling snacks, like hummus, apples, and more. Here’s a list of 17 power snacks worth trying.

4. Stay Organized

As the semester gets into full swing, you’ll find it harder to manage your time and the required assignments and responsibilities for each class you’re taking.

Start with a planner.

Planners make it significantly easier to plan out your day (or even your week), by physically showing you everything you need to accomplish by its specific date. Use the daily, weekly, and monthly planning sections for tasks depending on their importance and time commitment, as suggested by Marketing and Growth Hacking.

5. Plan it out

Set Goals

Planning out your study time will greatly increase your productivity. If you know that there are twelve chapters to study and you only have four hours to do it, try to get through at least 3 chapters every hour. It helps to set goals you’d like to achieve at the beginning of your study time so you know exactly what you’re working toward. The goal doesn’t have to be big; it can be something as small as completely understanding a section of a chapter. Regardless, having a real goal helps you focus on understanding the content, rather than just retaining it.

Set Checkpoints

During your study time, set up mini-quizzes after every chapter to quiz yourself on the items you recently studied. If you can’t remember the answers or how to get them, go back to the content and re-read it until you understand it fully. Most people study to retain the information for a quiz or exam; however, really learning the content teaches you how to apply it, which is what you’re normally asked to when you’re being tested.

6. Give Yourself Breaks

Before you study, give yourself at least three breaks so your mind can relax. Studying can be incredibly stressful, especially if you choose to study for long periods of time. Having multiple breaks allows you to organize the content better, while also ensuring that you don’t overexert yourself.

7. Take A Deep Breath

While these tasks may seem time-consuming or even more stressful, they can help you increase your productivity significantly. Don’t rush through your study time; take your time and try to really understand what the concepts are. Remind yourself that you have gotten this far because of the work you’ve put in.

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