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The Most Effective Studying Habits

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Posted on December 4, 2014 by Delaware Valley College.

Now that you’re in college, you’ve probably experienced your fair share of study sessions and late nights in the library. But are you sure that you’re making the most of your study time? Everyone finds different studying methods and techniques helpful, so it’s best to figure out what helps you focus and get down to business when an important exam is coming up. 

These effective studying habits can maximize what you get out of studying and help you retain the information necessary to perform well on your exam.

No Distractions
When you sit down to study, keep distractions at bay. Turn off your cell phone, and if you’re on a computer, try an app that blocks social media channels for a period of time so you won’t be tempted to check your feed. If you’re in a noisy area, put on headphones and listen to classical music to help you focus.

Work Out
It’s been proven that 30 minutes of aerobic exercise daily can sharpen your cognitive abilities and improve your brain processing speed. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which have been shown to improve your mood and memory. Exercise also helps you focus so you can do a better job of understanding the material. 

Change of Scenery
Pick a different desk at the campus library, table at the corner coffee shop, or spot in the student lounge every time you sit down with your highlighters and books. Studying in a different environment every time helps the brain form a new association with the material so you can remember it better when you need it most. 

Post-Its
Put information about the test around your room, on your mirror and in your bathroom. Every time you pass the Post-It, study the definition or answer the question. This method will allow you to study a little bit at a time during your daily activities. You’ll probably pass by your bedroom mirror many times over the course of a few days, so you’ll be able to memorize those definitions in no time. 

Flash Cards
Using flash cards with terms and definitions written on them is a great way to quiz yourself and memorize concepts or formulas. Write questions on one side of the cards and the answers on the other side (or the terms and definitions). Go through to deck with all of the questions facing outward and answer them as you go through. Make sure to shuffle the deck each time so you don’t get used to the order.

Practice Test
Another way to quiz yourself is to create a practice test. Some professors hand out practice tests so you know how the test will be formatted and have a better idea of the material that will be covered. But if not, you can do this yourself. 

Make sure you cover every category and include questions that you think stand out among the rest of the material. If you’re unsure about something, add it to the practice test just in case. After you’ve spent a few days studying and you think you’re ready, print out a few copies and take the test. If there’s information that you don’t remember, take some time to study that section again. 

Try using these techniques to help you study and find which ones work best for you. Remember to get a good night’s sleep the night before a big test and to eat a balanced breakfast or meal the day of the test. Maybe Mom and Dad will even send you a study care package to help ease your mind! And relax—you’re probably more prepared than you think!