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Five Ways to Improve Your Study Habits

written by: Keren Perles • edited by: Noreen Gunnell • updated: 9/11/2012

Some people may think that no matter how hard they study, they’ll never do well. If this describes you, don’t give up! You may just need to tweak some of your study habits in order to improve your performance on tests. Read on for tips on how to improve study habits and ace your tests!

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    1. Stick to Healthy Habits

    Tips like “Eat well, sleep well, and exercise in moderation" probably don’t seem like they should be part of an article on how to improve study habits. However, they’re probably the most important tips you will ever hear.

    Eating junk foods all day will make your mood and attention span unpredictable, which can only harm your ability to study well. In addition, sleep deprivation can cause you to be unable to focus on your studies as well. Most people need an average of eight hours of sleep at night to function optimally the next morning, and getting fewer than your required sleep hours can adversely affect your ability to remember the material that you’ve studied, or even to study it in the first place. And of course, the proper amount of exercise can keep your body on track so that you can study most effectively.

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    2. Set the Stage - Know Yourself

    In order to study effectively, you have to make sure that your study arrangements match the way that your brain works. For example, some students find it easiest to study with soft music playing in the background, whereas others may need white noise or complete silence in order to study their best. Some people learn best early in the morning, others in the mid-afternoon, and others late at night. Some need to be seated at a desk with their feet on the floor in order to concentrate, and others need to be more “comfortable," perhaps sprawled out on the floor or lounging in a beanbag chair. Don’t fool yourself. Evaluate which study situations work best for you, and make sure to study accordingly.

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    3. Prioritize Your Schedule

    If your social or personal life keeps on elbowing out your study time, you’ll need to think through your priorities carefully. Which activities should take precedence over your study time, and how often? If your friend calls to talk, should you pick up, even if you’re in the middle of studying? Your priorities will answer this question and others that will arise.

    A good way to make sure that you’re prioritizing well is to make a set schedule for studying. Then, if something has to change in the schedule, you know that you’ve made the decision consciously rather than simply saying “Oh, I’ll study later."

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    4. Arrange Mini-Study Sessions

    Do you save all of your studying until right before the test? If so, consider reviewing a bit each night instead. Daily, or even weekly review can help you retain the material when it is fresh in your mind. It may also help you identify points that you need help with, so that you can seek the help early on. When it comes time to study for the big test, you may find that you remember most of the material already from your mini-study sessions!

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    5. Use Study Skills

    When you’re actually studying, make sure that you take advantage of effective study skills, such as mnemonics, outlines, and flashcards. See which ones work best for you to improve your study habits, and use them! This article has some great study skill ideas you can use.

Study Tips and Strategies

Not sure how to improve your study habits? Searching for study strategies that will work for you? This series includes study tips and strategies that can work for students from middle school through college and beyond.
  1. Study Strategies You Can Use
  2. Five Ways to Improve Your Study Habits
  3. Top 5 Test Taking Strategies: Making Test Taking Simple
  4. High School Study Tips: Acing your Final Exams
  5. Using Summary Graphic Organizers: Visually Summarizing a Text