Ever feel like your grades will be so much better if you had an effective study strategy? It is definitely not easy to study or read every time, especially in college when you want to live your best life. I love studying (I’ve never admitted that out loud) and it took me a while to get to that point. And you can reach that point if you adopt the best study techniques that can help you work smarter and not harder.
Oftentimes, most students hold off on reading till a few days or weeks before a test, we both know that it is not the best study strategy to adopt. Instead, you could’ve been reading for about 30 minutes every day from the start of the semester and by the time the big day comes, you’re really not bothered cause you’ve learnt the material in small chunks.
In today’s post, I’ll take you through the 10 best study techniques that you can adopt today!
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10 Best Study Strategies for college students
1. Active Recall Practice
This is a process of trying to remember what you have read by setting quizzes for yourself, reviewing flashcards and solving questions. With this process, you are making your brain work by trying to recall everything you have read.
This is an active way of studying. According to Aatish Bhatia from wired.com, a study that was conducted in the Proceeding of The National Academy of Sciences shows that “students in traditional lecture course are 1.5 times more likely to fail, compared to students in courses with active learning”
If you love using flashcards or would like to try it out to see if it’s the best study technique for you, try downloading a flashcard app on your phone.
2. Spaced Practice
Just like I said earlier, it is easier to study for about 30 minutes every day from the start of the semester than to wait a few days or weeks before your big exam.
Spaced practise is when you read a particular topic today, then review it either one or two weeks later. When reviewing, remember to use active recall by solving questions related to the topic or using flashcards. This will help you know how much you’ve forgotten.
It is very normal to forget about 80% of what you read, but with constant reviewing by using active recall, you will be able to retain more information and also be able to find connections between different ideas.
3. Teach Someone Else
Assuming you have a presentation on the topic you just finished reading, you’d definitely want to organize your thoughts and write brief points under each subtopic.
Teaching someone forces you to organize everything you’ve read and also helps you explain the topic in your own words. This is a form of active recall and an effective study strategy for college students because you are trying to teach someone else right off the bat, with no guide, and all from your brain.
If you don’t have friends who are ready to listen to you rambling, you can teach your mum, your siblings, your dad. They might not pay attention to you, but that’s not the point. The point is for you to actively recall the information you have and explain it in your own words.
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4. Plan Out Your Week
For anybody that knows me, definitely knows I’m a planning freak. I CANNOT go a day without writing what I need to do for that particular day or week. Planning your week ahead helps you take note of the amount of work that needs to be done, their deadlines and how you are going to do them.
Here’s a quick guide to help you organize your week
- On the same day each week, maybe sunday or saturday, write down what you want to accomplish the next week (classes, assignments, studying a particular subject, etc)
- Look at your calendar and determine how much time you have to complete each work (take note of assignment deadlines)
- Assign each work to a particular day and time
- Write down extra materials you’ll need to complete each task under the task
- Make adjustments if possible
Pro Tip: Make your plan realistic. If you know you can only complete an assignment and review flashcards on Monday, then do just that. DO NOT try to put like 5-10 tasks for a day when you know you cannot get it all done.
5. Adopt The Feynman Technique
The Feynman technique is basically breaking down a topic into simpler words. It’s kind of like teaching someone else, except it is on a piece of paper. You can read more about the Feynman technique.
How to adopt the Feynman technique
- Write down the topic on an empty piece of paper
- Then explain in your own words. Assume you’re teaching a 5-year old
- Review your notes and identify where you’re wrong
- Go back to the reading material and identify the correct answer
- If there are any words in your notes that are too complex, replace them with simpler words
I currently don’t use this study technique, but it is definitely something you can try to see if it suits you.
6. Study Before Bed
Sleep is crucial for the human body to function properly. But before we go into why sleep is good for remembering, you should know that reading and studying are not the same.
According to Ask Any Difference, “the difference between studying and reading is that studying implies focusing and giving time to finishing or exploring any errand, while Reading implies comprehension and handling the significance of any substance”.
In simpler words, reading is reading a topic, studying is anything that has to do with active recall (reviewing flashcards, solving quizzes). If you’ve never read a topic, the first time you read it is called “reading”, but when you try to solve quizzes a week later, you’re “studying”.
When you study before sleeping, your brain organizes your memories, making it easier for you to recall information when they are needed.
7. Take Notes During Class
This may sound like punishment to some people. Taking notes during class is also a form of active learning because you are writing down information that you feel is important. And apart from that, it keeps you awake during the class because you are doing something.
If you have an assignment, you can easily refer to your notes to get information, compared to going through the whole reading material of 100-300 pages just to get a simple answer to a question.
The time used in taking notes in class is definitely not wasted. It’s like hitting two birds with one stone. You’re more active in class and you get to spend less time on your assignments; so you have more time for Netflix (woo-hoo).
8. The 30-5-30 Rule
I feel like I came up with this technique. I’m not sure, let me know if you’ve heard it somewhere else in the comments below.
Basically, you read for 30 minutes, take a 5-minute break, then come back and read for 30 minutes until the time is up. This is good for people who get distracted often. You can tweak the time if you want. You can decide to read for 20 minutes and take a 10-minute break; that will be 20-10-20.
If you plan to spend 3 hours reading, and we all know we can’t give our full attention to reading for 3 hours straight (I know I can’t). You can decide to do 30-10-30, and by the time you repeat the sequence three times, 3 hours have been exhausted and you’re done reading.
9. Listen To Music While Studying
I don’t advise you to listen to music while reading, because you want your full attention on learning the material, but you can try listening to music while studying. I do this a lot and I love it.
The only thing is that you just have to look for the right genre of music that appeals to you more when you’re studying. We are all different, so you just have to figure out what music works for you. I don’t have a particular reading playlist, I just pick albums according to my mood.
If this is something you’ve tried and doesn’t work for you, then please don’t do it. I don’t want you standing up and dancing like you’re in a concert when you’re supposed to be studying.
10. Keep A Study Schedule
The same way you have a time dedicated to sleep at night or go to class, you should also set time during the day that is dedicated to reading, even though it’s just 20 minutes. We just want to adopt the habit of reading every day because it just makes your college life easier. Grab your free study schedule template so you can create your very own study schedule.
Just 20 minutes for studying out of 24 hours in a day, just 20 minutes. You can do it!!!
While having an effective study strategy in college is good, you should know that you are responsible for your success, so you should put hard work into reading and studying. And no matter what, it’ll definitely pay off.
You can choose two to three study techniques to adopt from this post and stick to it. Once you find out which study strategy works best for you, you’ll be unstoppable.
Let me know in the comments below which study strategy you’re taking away with you from this post. And if you already have a strategy that’s working for you but is not listed here, please share it in the comments so we can all benefit from it.
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