Humans love to learn but sometimes textbook writers don’t make it easy for us. When studying gets tough, here are some tips to help you ace that test or assignment. 

Use Effective Studying Techniques

Students are always told to study, but they aren’t always taught how. Using scientifically proven study techniques can greatly increase how much you learn and retain. Try to actively engage with the material by writing short summaries of the material, making flash cards with key vocabulary, or even writing your own exam questions on the material. 

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Most universities and colleges have study skills resources available, or check out Harvard’s Bureau of Study Counsel or Penn State’s study skills. 


Study Hard, Play Hard

It’s common for people to mix studying with playing on the internet, chatting with friends, watching a show, listening to music, or all the above. Unfortunately, this approach can lead to hours wasted, with very little accomplished. Instead, turn off all distractions for a period of focused study, and then take a proper break to do something fun.  

Start with focusing for a short amount of time, anywhere from 25 minutes ( ) to 52 minutes ( ). No phone, no internet, no interruptions. Then, take a proper break of five to 15 minutes. Get up, stretch, walk around the block, check social media, then get right back to work. Experiment with how long you set the timer to find the perfect amount of concentration time for you. 

Be Guided by a Schedule

No matter how much we love a subject, there’s always boring bits. So, let go of the idea that you must feel motivated to get good work done. Instead, just schedule blocks of time for homework each week, and do it whether you feel like it or not. A 2015 study showed that this kind of self-control, rather than motivation, made the difference in students’ report cards. 

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Don't miss our last article, in this series, where we'll give tips on how to stay motivated about doing housework.