This post is for all you students out there. If you’re currently studying for a standardized test (or any test for that matter), we know the struggle is real…
Your phone is constantly buzzing off the desk with texts. That Buzzfeed quiz seems like it was made especially for you (but seriously, how long would you survive if you lived in Westeros?). And no matter how hard you try to ignore it, that little (1) keeps popping up on your Facebook tab, and the need to click on it consumes your every being until you break down and check it — just to see it was another useless update from that group you joined a year ago. Sigh … *unfollow group*.
By the time you’re done responding and scrolling and quizzing, an entire hour of valuable study time has passed you by.
See, we get it. That’s why we’ve made this list of tips and tricks for you — to help you buckle down, get focused, and study as smart and effectively as possible so that test day is a breeze. Here we go!
1. Change the way you think about studying
A little change of attitude can go a long way. Many people think of studying as a necessary evil — a horrible thing they need to get through in order to get to the greener grass on the other side. It doesn’t have to be that way, though.
Researchers have found that how you approach a task is just as important as how you do the task. If you can flip that switch in your brain that takes you from “ugh, studying…” to “hey, look at all this stuff I get to learn!” you’ll set yourself up for studying success.
But it’s not always as simple as that, is it? So here’s some advice on how to improve your mindset before studying.
- Don’t put yourself down: Remind yourself of all the things you’ve done successfully in the past, even if they’re small! Think positively and remind yourself that this study time is completely in your control. Own it and make it work for you.
- Don’t compare yourself to others: Who cares if you heard about that friend of a friend who studied for one week and got a perfect score? What works for that person or anyone else won’t necessarily work for you. Find what time of day, length of study time, etc. works for you and study at your own pace. There’s no shame in that!
- Avoid thinking in absolutes: If you mess something up it’s not the end of the world. Instead of thinking “oh, I got that wrong — I’m so bad at life,” think: “hey, I messed that up, now how do I fix it and learn from it?”
2. Seek out good study vibes
Where you study is extremely important. Don’t sabotage your study time by trying to do it in a place that’s not conducive to focusing (a.k.a. in front of the TV or in a room full of friends). Find a quiet area or nook in a library or quiet cafe. Then, try out a few different spots until you find something that works. Come back to this place often to be able to jump right into that good concentration flow.
3. Stick to a schedule that works for you
Don’t add unnecessary stress to your life by cramming study time in whenever possible or by putting it off until the last minute. Be deliberate and work significant chunks of study time into your daily or weekly routine. Then, repeat. Eventually, you’ll reach a point where it feels natural to study at a certain time and unnatural to skip it. With a regular and frequent study schedule, you’ll find it’s actually easier to learn in the moment and recall memorized information later on.
We’ve even created study guides for some of our exam so you know exactly how much time to dedicate to each section depending on how much time you have to study! You can check those out here:
4. Turn off your phone
This seems like an obvious one, right? But honestly, how how many times have any of us actually turned our phones off to study? Well, it’s time to start! Your friends and family will understand if you go AWOL for a couple hours. (Just make sure you let them know beforehand so they don’t freak out when you’re not responding.)
5. Close out the tabs on your browser
Yes, even Facebook. Resisting the urge to check social media and email is really difficult, so don’t even try it. Instead, close out all your open tabs before you start studying. You’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to think about one thing at a time, and at how quickly you can complete tasks.
Pro Tip: You can even download anti-distraction apps like Freedom and SelfControl that block social media distractions and prevent you from going on sites like Facebook and Twitter for set periods of time.
6. Study using a variety of methods
Don’t be afraid to spice up your study life. If your eyes start to glaze over as you stare at those practice questions on your screen, mix it up! Make some flashcards to memorize vocab or have your friends quiz you on important information. Find ways to make it interesting and fun to retain more information.
7. Take breaks often and reward yourself
Your brain can only take so much. Give yourself time to relax and refresh every so often to come back to your study material with fresh eyes. While you’re breaking, eat a healthy snack (like nuts and dried fruits) and watch that funny cat video your friend sent you earlier. Don’t feel guilty about it — taking brief breaks will actually help you in the long run. A burnt out brain just doesn’t work as well.
Second photo of girl studying on laptop courtesy of connection.sagepub.com.