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Developing Good Study Habits

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Studying is all about getting yourself in the right frame of mind for extended periods of concentration. Lots of different people do this in lots of different ways, and so there are no hard and fast rules, unfortunately, as how you can get yourself in this state. However, there are some stellar tips that can be useful, and that is the purpose of this blog post.

Studying. It’s hard. There are so many distractions around you – especially in this digital age of smartphones, social media, and Family Guy. I know from experience that sometimes you will literally do anything to put studying off – doing the dishes, walking the dogs, building a bookshelf, even having a dump (yeah, I’ve done that).

Whatever your procrastination techniques, in the end, until you get your head in the books, it won’t go away.

Learning is a hard thing to do – and importantly. It differs greatly from reading. I know that I can sometimes ‘read’ about 5 pages of a novel before suddenly realising that I haven’t actually taken in anything that’s been going on, and I have to go back. And the same, of course, can happen when we’re trying to memorise facts from textbooks.

We can often understand what’s going on as we’re reading. But, ask us a question about it just 5 minutes later and we’re stumped. Committing pieces of information to memory is indeed a very tricky task. True intelligence, I think, can often be measured by a person’s ability to access the information that is stored in his or her brain.

We all love to admire Stephen Fry, for instance, as it can often seem like he is Wikipedia or even Google itself with all of the information that he can just seem to conjure out of thin air. But the fact is that Mr Fry has an exceptional memory. That, indeed, might be a better way to view his intellect. He is not known for his ideas per se, but rather his ability to recall other people’s.

He would be very good when sitting an exam, I have absolutely no doubt. But, if we were to ask him to solve the Palestinian crisis – perhaps not so much.

My point is, that Stephen Fry’s ability to read and retain information is something that, for the purposes of good study, good students must strive for themselves.

As mentioned above – study is all about concentration. But it’s also all about finding ways and means to firmly implant information into your own brain and from there dig it out at any given point.

So, with this in mind, let’s now take a look at some highly effective study habits that you will do well to pick up. Here goes…

The Right Environment

A lot of people make the mistake of studying in a place that really isn’t conducive to concentrating. A place with a lot of distractions makes for a poor study area. If you try and study in your dorm room, for instance, you may find the computer, TV, or a roommate more interesting than the reading material you’re trying to digest.

The library, a nook in a student lounge or study hall, or a quiet coffee house are good places to check out. Make sure to choose the quiet areas in these places, not the loud, central gathering areas. Investigate multiple places on-campus and off-campus, don’t just pick the first one your find as “good enough” for your needs and habits. Finding an ideal study place is important, because it’s one you can reliably count on for the next few years.

Rewrite All Of Your Notes

This might sound like a bit of a pain, but taking the time to rewrite all of your notes will help to commit them to memory. It is time consuming, of course, but a degree is a full time job, and making the effort to perform this practice will go a long way to ensuring that you end up with a better grade.

The best way is not just copying what you have already written, but actually rewriting it all. That is to say, rewording everything. This is an active process that will help you retain the information as you strive to articulate it again and again in your notebook.

Take Breaks, and Don’t Forget To Reward Yourself

Because so many people view studying as a chore or task, it’s human nature to avoid it. If, however, you find rewards to help reinforce what you’re doing, you may be pleasantly surprised by the change you may find in your attitude over time.

Rewards start by chunking study time into manageable components. Studying for 4 hours at a time with no breaks is not realistic or fun for most people. Studying for 1 hour, and then taking a 5 minute break and grabbing a snack is usually more sustainable and enjoyable. Divide study time into segments that make sense and work for you. If you have to digest a whole textbook chapter, find sections in the chapter and commit to reading and taking notes on one section at a time. Maybe you only do one section in a sitting, maybe you do two. Find the limits that seem to work for you.


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