As the school year begins, many students, myself included, find themselves seemingly doomed to an avalanche of homework, assignments, tests, and projects. Of course, all of this involves studying, which can be difficult sometimes. I know that it’s certainly not always easy for me to concentrate on my notes even when I know it’s in my best interest. With that in mind at the start of this year, I compiled my list of top-notch study tips meant to help increase productivity, minimize distraction, boost memorization, and make homework feel a lot less overwhelming. Without further ado, I present to you Sadie Tresnit’s Tried and True Study Tips.
Keep your papers organized! I don’t know about you, but it drives me crazy when I need to study important notes from class and I can’t find them anywhere. The solution? Find an organization system that works for you. Personally, I have a color coded folder with the name of each class on it, and a separate homework folder for permission slips and assignments that need to be completed right away. This helps me keep my papers separate for each class so they don’t get mixed up, and it’s really easy to find anything I need. If folders don’t work for you, it can also be helpful to use a binder with dividers for each class you’re taking. I find that studying is way less stressful when I know where everything is.
Have a snack before you study, and stay hydrated. It’s always harder to focus on an empty stomach, so I recommend eating a small snack like a granola bar or carrot sticks before studying. According to WebMD, dark chocolate may improve focus, and I’m all for it. I usually get hungry in the late afternoon, which is often when I study, so I find that a small snack before studying and dinner is especially helpful and doesn’t ruin my appetite. It also means I don’t have to take a break from studying to eat. Another important part of staying focused is drinking enough water. Sometimes, I get so focused on my work that I forget to drink water until I have a headache. I deal with this by making sure to keep a full water bottle nearby when I’m studying. Water can make you feel more alert, which is vital to studying. This is especially important if the topic is one that doesn’t interest you very much.
Reward yourself for getting work done. Once, I saw a picture online of someone who studied by eating one gummy bear for every paragraph they read or wrote. I think this is an excellent strategy, and I’ve used it many times before (not just because I like candy). Giving yourself a small treat for each step of work you finish can really make you feel more engaged. In my time at Franklin, I’ve definitely had to read textbook passages that, to be blunt, bored me out of my skull. With that sort of reading, it can be easy to feel like quitting. Having a small motivation like candy can help keep you going. For bigger projects, the rewards can also be bigger. For example, you could buy yourself a new book or movie, plan a day with friends, or give yourself time to take a nap as a reward for finishing an especially difficult project or essay.
Study with friends. This is one tip I have to be careful with because it’s easy for me to get distracted when I try to study with my friends. However, this strategy works well for language classes because you and your friends can gain experience having conversations in other languages. It can also be a great way to get help if you’re struggling with a certain concept. Plus, it can be a nice break from ordinary textbook studying. “Doing something with other people makes me feel way more productive than just sitting in my room with a book,” says Franklin student Mira Kron (11). Studying with friends is a great way to change up your typical study format, and gives you an opportunity to be social while learning. Video chat study groups are also a good option. This strategy is a bit difficult for me, but it’s definitely a viable option for some students.
Take breaks between subjects. I’ve tried before to get all my studying for every class done in one sitting, and for me, it doesn’t tend to work. It’s hard to focus on work for hours on end, and switching subjects without a pause in between can be confusing. My advice is to take a five to ten minute break before switching subjects. This gives your brain a rest and gives you a chance to text your friends, doodle, read a book, or anything else you find more enjoyable than homework. I know from experience that it’s much easier for me to concentrate if I work for about 45 minutes at a time, but that number isn’t the same for everyone. Figure out a good time for you and stick to your schedule.
Finally, use online tools. I know that the internet can be distracting when you’re trying to be productive or do important work, but as long as you monitor yourself, it can also be a useful tool. However, you have to be careful to avoid plagiarism when using certain resources. Websites and apps like Duolingo and Quizlet can be a refreshing change to your study routine and help you learn more efficiently. I’ve found that Quizlet is much better for helping you review terms and concepts, while Duolingo can help you learn about the grammar of the language you’re learning. This is just a small amount of the help the internet has to offer, so explore your options.