Studying is a major aspect of any student's educational path. Learning how to study should start as early as primary school so students can build on their study habits as they get older. Though most teachers will provide their students with comprehensive study guides when the students are in their earlier years, high school, college and graduate-level courses require students to know how to study well on their own.
While studying may come easily to some students, it may be difficult for others. Either way, having some of the best study hacks readily available to you can help you to be a more successful student overall. It can also help to alleviate the stress that comes from studying, which may be impacting your mental and emotional health.
Change Up Your Study Space
Many people tend to think that the best way to study is to have that one dedicated study space to which you always go. However, studies have found that this can actually negatively impact you on test day. This is because your mind will associate the material with that space alone, which means you'd have to also take the test in that same space in order to recall the material.
Instead, get your mind used to studying and performing in different spaces so that when test day comes, you can adapt easily. Of course, the spaces you choose should still be conducive to studying – quiet, relaxing, nice atmosphere, etc. – but don't be afraid to change it up.
Exercise Right Before the Test
Most students recognize the fact that exercise is beneficial in many ways, and it is. However, most people think that this means they should increase the amount of exercise they are getting on days when they study or when they have a big exam coming up.
First of all, it's important to stay consistent with exercise, but most importantly, it's not so much what you do leading up to the test but what you do on test day itself. Studies have shown that going for a walk right before the test can make a significant positive impact on your scores.
Help Jog Your Memory With Scents and Gum
An interesting study hack is to incorporate certain scents into your studying. As strange as this may sound, your brain makes connections with scents. So, if you smell something unique while you study – for instance, Play-Doh, a candle or even popcorn – and then smell it again right before you take the test, it can help you recall the material.
Additionally, another strange study hack is to chew gum while you study. This can work in two ways. First, studies have shown that gum can help you focus more while you study. Secondly, if you choose a gum with a unique flavor or scent, it can serve the previously mentioned purpose.
Turn Off Distractions By Downloading Apps
There's no question that it is necessary for students to turn off all distractions while studying. This may mean putting away your phone or staying off Facebook. However, before you turn off all electronics, there are several apps you can download to help you manage these distractions while still being able to access whatever study materials you may need. Consider downloading an app like Cold Turkey to help.
Get Yourself Interested in the Topic
Some study topics are downright boring, which makes it that much harder to pay attention to your notes or your textbook. Therefore, a great study hack is to do what you can to get yourself interested in the topic. It may seem preposterous to dedicate more time to something that disinterests you so much, but it can help you appreciate what you are learning so that studying becomes less of a headache-inducing chore.
Some ways to get yourself interested in the topic are to ask your professor some questions about it or consider watching a movie or a documentary (there are so many documentaries out there today) that is related to the topic. If you know someone in your class who is interested in the topic, ask if he could help you study or give you some useful tips.
Get Creative With Your Notes, Font and Aids
In many cases, studying begins in the classroom. While some students are able to simply absorb the information, others need to be more proactive and take very detailed notes or even record their lessons. Do what works best for you. It is always better to have more resources at your disposal than not enough.
Once you have notes, a good study hack is to get as creative with your notes as possible by trying one of these ideas:
- Using colors or highlighters to organize your notes
- Rewriting your notes several times
- Creating flashcards of what you have learned
- Typing up your notes using Times New Roman font, which is the easiest on the eyes and the fastest to read
- Creating visual aids like diagrams or mind maps or even drawings to help you remember things
- Making a song out of your notes
- Making a fake cheat sheet
- Making a practice test for yourself
- Creating mnemonic devices to remember certain points
Listen to Music While Studying
Listening to music while studying can be distracting to some students, but it all depends on what type of music you listen to. Though some students may be able to study well while listening to death metal or rap music, those who find music distracting should try other genres instead.
This is because the act of listening to music while you study can help increase your focus and improve your mood. Of course, it can also help you make quick associations with the material, similar to the scent and gum-chewing study hacks.
Some types of music/sounds to which you can listen while studying are:
- Classical music, like Mozart
- Smooth jazz
- Slow, ambient music
- White noise, like rain sounds or jungle sounds
Look Up Study Hacks Online
There are tons of great study hacks out there and more that are being introduced to the world each and every day thanks to the internet. One way to find other study tips is by looking online. For instance, if you want to know which websites to visit to find study hacks, Quora and Reddit are each a good place to start. It is on these sites that you can find recommendations for studying methods from students just like you.
Remember to Reward Yourself
Being a student is hard work, and you deserve to reward yourself every once in a while. Best of all, rewarding yourself is actually a great study hack for those who need a little more encouragement.
Take some of your favorite candies and place them on different sections of your notes or in your textbook. Every time you complete a section, eat the candy that you've placed or set a timer and allow yourself a piece of candy or chocolate every time you've studied through to when the timer goes off.
Hana LaRock is a freelance content writer from New York, currently living in Mexico. She has spent the last 5 years traveling the world and living abroad and has lived in South Korea and Israel. Before becoming a writer, Hana worked as a teacher for several years in the U.S. and around the world. She has her teaching certification in Elementary Education and Special Education, as well as a TESOL certification. Hana spent a semester studying abroad at Tel Aviv University during her undergraduate years at the University of Hartford. She hopes to use her experience to help inform others. Please visit her website, www.hanalarockwriting.com, to learn more.