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6 Study Tips, Backed by Science

6 Study Tips, Backed by Science

When you begin your college career, you might feel relieved that you no longer have a parent or teacher hounding you to study. It’s up to you from that point onward, to make responsible decisions and use your time wisely. Most college students find this to be one of the most difficult parts about transitioning to a new life full of freedom.

The best way to combat this potential pitfall is to develop responsible study habits now, while you’re still in high school. Scientific research actually tells us a lot about the right way to review and retain information, so use these tips to create a responsible study routine that will carry right over into your freshman year of college.

Create the right environment. Studies have shown that creating a designated “study space” improves performance. It’s a way of training your brain by signaling that it’s time to learn. Keep all of your study tools in this space, so that you can avoid the distraction of having to interrupt study time to go look for necessary items. Also, consider studying with classical music playing in the background, as research has proven this practice beneficial. (Rhythmic music such as rap appears to be detrimental, by the way)

Study in short bursts. All-nighters are actually not the way to go. Science has shown that we retain information better when we study in shorter, 20- or 30-minute sessions over a few weeks, rather than trying to cram the night before a test.

In fact, all-nighters can hurt your scores. All-night study sessions are actually linked to lower grades, poorer memory, and impaired reasoning skills.

Reduce distractions. Turn off your cell phone during study time (and remember, if you’re scheduling study time correctly, it will only last about half an hour or so). All of those notifications are a constant distraction from your work. You will learn better when you devote all of your attention to the subject matter, and you’ll find that you use time more efficiently, too.

Use flash cards. You might think that reading and highlighting important information is the best way to go, but science says otherwise. Instead of offering too many distractions to your brain, create flash cards with pertinent information only.

Make a study list. Sometimes, the order in which your instructor presents information won’t be the best way for you to learn it. Create a list of study goals, ordered in a manner that makes sense to you. Putting together the pieces one at a time is often more helpful than trying to learn everything at once.

Teach a friend. When you teach information to someone else, your brain has to re-format everything into a logical sequence. This strengthens your memory and understanding of the subject material. So, if have a study partner, take turns “teaching” to one another. If you join a study group, everyone can take turns being the “teacher” and reap the benefits.