The 7 Deadly Sins of Studying

Have you ever endlessly studied for a test only to find out that you didn’t pass? We have all been there at one point or another. You study tirelessly and feel confident you know the material, only to not pass. It feels awful, but how do you fix it? First, analyze how your studying!


Are you committing one of the 7 deadly sins of studying?


Sin 1: Docile studying

This is the type of studying where you merely reread a passage. You don’t engage the material in anyway and lack focus on what you are trying to retain. You can tell if your docile studying when you try to think about what you just read, and can’t remember. Try engaging the material in a more active way, such as writing it down as you read or reading out loud!


Sin 2: Cramming

Cramming may seem like the logical thing to do before a test, but think again! Spreading out studying over a longer period of time will be more effective than trying to cram large amounts of material into your mind overnight- or even worse the day of. While you may retain some information, you will not wholly learn the material. The key to retention in repetition, so try studying over a longer span of time!


Sin 3: “Study Buddies”

Studying in groups can be very effective, but studying with friends can go wrong very fast. It is easy to become distracted when studying with friends so make sure that you stay on task!

If you find yourself becoming distracted, try breaking up studying and chatting into blocks. For example, group study one section for 20 minutes and chat/break for 5!


Sin 4: Studying instead of sleep

This is similar to cramming, because often, we stay up late cramming. Staying up late the night before an exam is a bad idea for several reasons. One, you need to be well rested the night before a test! Not enough sleep can be detrimental because you may have a harder time remembering important information. Two, the later you stay up, the less focused you become due to drowsiness. This will also affect your memory. Bottom line- sleep!


Sin 5: Poor notes

When you’re studying, make sure you have well written notes and flashcards. Studying wrong, complicated, and/or incomplete information will obviously prove to be useless. If you find that you are studying often but still are not passing an exam, consider revising your notes! Maybe they need more detail. Notes need love too!


Sin 6: Scattered studying

This is just randomly studying material with no rhyme or reason. Adding structure to your study routine will help you focus. Once you can structure what you need to study, it will be easier to break down and remember! An easy way to structure what you need to study is to visualize it. Try creating a flow chart or time sequence of what you need to study.


Sin 7: Lying to yourself

At one point or another, we have all skipped studying all together. If we think the material is easy will tell ourselves that we don’t need to study and walk into an exam without preparation. Even if you think you know the information, study and quiz yourself a bit in order to be sure! Studying can never hurt, especially if you do it right! Not studying, of course, can seriously hurt.


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  • Dana Sinclair

    Dana is a current high school senior who enjoys writing when she has a free moment. When she’s not studying, reading, or interning, she loves to go exploring the Bay Area with her friends. She loves discovering new activities and learning as much as she can. She hopes to help fellow students achieve their goal by sharing her knowledge on how to navigate high school life.

By the way, Magoosh can help you study for both the SAT and ACT exams. Click here to learn more!

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