Written by Cindy
We’re always looking for ways to help our students succeed, whether on standardized tests, in the classroom, or along their professional paths.
Here are four of our favorite tips for improving study habits and increasing success in academia and beyond. These are useful for students regardless of skill level or current academic pursuits.
- Review new information on the same day.
Studies have shown that people typically retain only 25% of new information they have been exposed to on a daily basis. Students spent a great deal of effort taking notes in class; it would be a shame if these were not used! Always review your notes from class on the same day you take them to reinforce the material learned.
It can also help to explain any key learning points out loud. This is a good way of self-checking for understanding and transferring new knowledge/skills from short-term to long-term memory.
- Plan a weekly schedule.
Creating a schedule is imperative for great time management. Students should learn to create a weekly schedule that can help them break up tasks, prioritize activities, and study effectively.
In addition, students can use SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) goals to create tangible objectives.
In planning a schedule, consider how long it takes you to complete homework; school activities and extracurricular commitments; time for meals; and healthy sleep. It is just as important to schedule breaks and downtime as it is to schedule tasks.
- Multitasking is a myth.
While people might think that taking on multiple tasks at the same time increases productivity, research consistently indicates that multitasking (or switch tasking) only slows people down, increases stress, and induces more errors.
Students should avoid potential distractions and schedule out both their work time and distraction time to increase productivity. Start work off by focusing on the biggest tasks, and do your best to have a specific plan or objective for each study session.
- Get at least 8 to 9 hours of sleep EVERY night.
Lack of sleep is a huge detriment to student well-being. It also makes learning much more difficult. Many studies have shown how a lack of sleep severely impairs cognitive function and reduces information transfer from short term memory to long term memory. Essentially, staying up late to study will always backfire, since the information studied does not get stored in long term memory.
Also, getting an appropriate amount of sleep helps one feel better, minimize careless errors, and avoid illness.
Try to unwind before bed with a good book, music, or even meditation. Also, avoid staring at screens (i.e. TV, phones, tablets, etc.) just before bedtime.
If these four tips feel like too much to take on all at once, pick one item from the list and start with that. When that step feels comfortable, add another. Continuing in this fashion will allow you to build upon your successes over time.