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Five New Year’s Resolutions for More Effective Studying

It’s New Year’s Resolution time! This year, our friends at have some ideas to help you make 2014 the year you get into your perfect MBA program.

Happy New Year and enjoy!

It’s funny. When you think about it, nothing is really going to change at midnight on December 31. It’s just another instance of time passing as it always does. And yet there’s something about the beginning of a new year that makes us take a look at our lives, spot the places where there’s room for improvement, and set goals for ourselves in hopes that we’ll have changed or achieved something by the following December 31. Perennial favorites include losing weight, exercising more, saving money, and quitting bad habits.

This year, consider making a few resolutions to improve your study habits and get more out of the time you spend hitting the books. Whether you’re prepping for a standardized test like the GMAT or simply working to maintain or bolster your high school or college GPA, here are a few resolutions you can make to help you achieve your academic goals:

  • (1) Set a schedule and stick to it. Create a weekly or even monthly study calendar for yourself and then stick to it. Note the time you’re going to devote to studying on your calendar the way you would a dentist appointment or a birthday party and train yourself to show up the way you would for any other event.
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  • (2) Cut out time-wasters. Seeing where your best friend checked in for dinner or checking out your favorite celebrity’s latest selfie may be entertaining, but the time you spend on social media and other fun but substance-lacking websites can add up quickly and keep you from achieving your full potential academically. Set a time limit for yourself on these sites or, better yet, use them to incentivize yourself (as in, “If I spend two hours studying, I can spend 15 minutes on [insert guilty pleasure website of choice]”).
  • (3) Talk to your teachers or professors. If you find yourself struggling even slightly with a certain class or a particular topic, talk to your teachers or professors now before midterms and finals roll around. They’re there to help and having a one-on-one conversation with them may help you gain insights you weren’t able to in the classroom setting. If you aren’t able to meet with them after class or during their office hours, see if they can help you via e-mail. If you’re studying for a standardized test, consider enlisting the help of a tutor or test prep program.
  • (4) Banish cramming and all-nighters. Studies have shown that distributed studying over a long period of time is more effective than cramming at the last minute. Researchers at UCLA recently found that cramming is counterproductive because students sacrifice sleep for studying and end up performing poorly the following day. Of course, an all-nighter here and there is inevitable, but if you can learn to manage your time wisely and stick to a study schedule, you’ll be more alert, well-rested, and—most important—prepared come test time.
  • (5) Learn to realize when you need to isolate yourself. Group study can certainly have benefits, but sometimes, it’s best to tune out everyone and everything, hunker down in the library, and knock out some quality studying on your own. Outside chatter can prevent you from drawing your own conclusions or focusing on the topics you need to devote the most time to. Learn when to collaborate and when it would be better to work independently.

The word “resolution” comes from the Latin word resolutio, which, loosely translated, means “the process of reducing things into simpler forms.” Fitting, because resolving to improve your study habits can indeed help simplify your life. If you have some downtime during your winter break, take a few minutes to jot down a few of your own resolutions and develop a plan of attack for following through with them—you’ll thank yourself a year from now.

Stephanie Farah is a blogger for, a comprehensive college and scholarship search website. She earned a B.A. in English at the University of Texas at Austin and a Master of Journalism at the University of North Texas. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, traveling, and hanging out with her Great Dane. You can follow her on Twitter.

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