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How To Study: 16 Tips To Master the Content

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How to study: A student works in the library

Whether you're preparing for a high stakes test or brushing up on your math facts before tomorrow's quiz, studying is an important skill to master. Too many students fall prey to procrastination or use their time inefficiently, not realizing that studying is actually an art. The good news is that, like any art, you can develop strong study skills through practice and dedication. Here are some tips to get you started.

16 Tips To Get the Most From Your Studying

How to study: A study group meets in the library

You need to ensure that you get the most out of your study time and show up prepared when it really counts. It may seem simple enough to sit down and dig into the study materials, but in reality, great study skills take practice and purpose. Here are 16 tips to ensure you get the most from your studying.

1. Have a Dedicated Study Spot

When it's time to crack open the books, you'll want to dive right in. Having a space specifically dedicated to studying and stocked with all your study materials means you're ready to get started right away.

Make sure this space is out of the regular traffic areas in your home, and keep your necessary study tools there, like pencils, a calculator, or your laptop.

2. Make Flash Cards

Spaced repetition is a proven way to absorb new material, and flashcards are a simple tool that uses this strategy to boost your performance. When you need to memorize key facts or new information, create flashcards to help yourself learn the material.

Flashcards can be physical, like when you write the information on opposite sides of an index card, or digital, as employed by popular study tools like Quizlet. You'll need to think about whether you learn better with hands on materials or on screens before you choose which is best for you.

3. Form a Study Group

There's power in numbers, and that phrase is true here, too. Study groups can help keep you focused and motivated. They also allow you to tap into the strengths of your friends. Sometimes just listening to someone explain an answer in a different way can help to clarify your own thinking as well.

4. Learn Re-Reading with Purpose

The first time you read new material, it can be difficult to absorb it. You might skim over it or not truly think about it in any meaningful context. You should always read something more than once if it's going to be important to remember it.

Learn to reread material with an eye for how it fits or conflicts with your existing knowledge. When you place new material in context, it holds more meaning and makes it easier to recall later.

5. Take a Three Minute Break

Studying can be stressful, especially when you know that there's pressure to perform later on. One way to reduce the stress and refresh your mind is to take study breaks. Studying for thirty minutes followed by a three minute brain break can allow you to return to your work well-rested and ready to go.

6. Listen to Some Music

Music has been proven to boost brain activity and increase student performance on certain cognitive tasks. This means that playing some classical or other calming tunes in the background can help block out distractions and prepare your brain for learning.

7. Eliminate Multitasking

In an increasingly distracted world, studying can easily become inefficient when you try to study and do other tasks simultaneously. When you study, be sure to eliminate possible distractions. Some common strategies include silencing your phone, using noise blocking headphones, and locating yourself in a space where you won't be interrupted by others.

One major distraction can be social media. Log out of your social media accounts, or silence all notifications before you get started. Then, be sure to stay focused on your work and only your work.

8. Use a Study Guide

Study guides are useful in two ways. First, they help clarify exactly what you need to know and can outline important points in a useful way. Remember how new content makes more sense in context? A study guide can provide that.

Second, creating your own study guide can help organize your thinking. The simple act of writing out your own study guide can help focus your thinking and act as a mind map for new material. The amount of time that you spend creating the study guide can be just as valuable as the amount of time you spend using it.

9. Make a Study Schedule

Procrastinating is one of the most common barriers to better grades. When you leave too much studying to the last minute, you set yourself up for a cram session. Last minute studying is never as effective as spaced repetition over a prolonged period.

Instead, make a study schedule by working backwards from your end goal. Space study sessions out across a prolonged period, allowing a bit of study time at least three or four times per week, but preferably every day. Even just fifteen minutes of dedicated study time each day can be far more effective than an hour of panic studying the night before a final exam.

10. Get To Know Your Learning Style

Not everyone learns the same way. Some people are visual learners, others are tactile, and still more need to hear something before they remember it. Employ different methods of learning and pay attention as you do so.

Getting to know how you learn best can be a huge advantage and allow you to study better. When you know the most effective way to study for your learning style, you'll be able to tailor your study methods and learn more in less time.

11. Take Practice Tests

No amount of studying can prepare you for a big test the way a practice test can. This is especially true for standardized tests like the SAT or ACT. Many students experience test anxiety over these high stakes exams, but taking practice tests in advance can help.

Getting used to the pacing, instructions, and question format can all help you to feel more prepared and less anxious on test day. Practice tests are also a great indicator of your progress and can highlight areas still in need of improvement.

12. Put Knowledge Into Your Own Words

Memorizing information in someone else's words can not only be difficult, but also confusing. When you reword key points using your own words, you are forced to consider meaning and context in purposeful ways.

One great way to employ this method is to teach someone else the same material you're trying to learn. As you explain the concepts in your own words, you'll internalize the meaning even further.

13. Use Mnemonic Devices

There are some facts or equations that you simply must memorize, sometimes without much context at all. These can be difficult without some tricks. Mnemonic devices are simple shortcuts that allow you to recall information through an easier sentence or phrase.

For example, a simple mnemonic device for remembering the order of operations in math is: Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally. If you can remember this sentence, you can use the first letters from each word to organize your order of operations as: parentheses, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction.

14. Combine Class Notes

When you pool resources with friends, you'll have the advantage of more perspectives. Ask your friends to copy their class notes and offer copies of your notes, too. There is a good chance that you'll have organized your notes differently and focused on various parts of the lesson. Reviewing other class notes can help clarify your own thinking and be an additional valuable study resource.

15. Join Study Sessions

You don't have to form your own study group to take advantage of group learning. Often, study sessions are offered by various hosts both in or out of school. These might be the teacher or teacher's assistant, a library group, or even online study sessions offered over Zoom. Joining an existing study session is a great way to focus your learning and tap into the knowledge of others.

16. Get a Tutor

Sometimes, no matter what study techniques you employ, you still need a bit of extra help. Tutors are great for keeping you motivated and focused while offering top study tips and clarity of information as you learn.

Finding the right tutor isn't always easy, though. Luckily, sites like TutorMe allow you to filter tutors by subject area, availability, and experience. With TutorMe, you can join a study session with your personal tutor, on demand, from your own living room, 24/7.

When To Call the Experts

How to study: A student works with a tutor

Many students think that tutors are reserved for failing grades or extra help. In reality, a tutor can help at any stage in your learning process, even when you aren't struggling. Tutors are a great resource to boost grades, optimize your study time, and ensure that you get everything possible from your time spent studying. From test prep courses to subject specific expertise, tutors can help at every step along the way.

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