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How to Maximize Your Study Time So That You Can Retain More Information

by Lois R. Earles
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We all know that some people are more studious than others. Some people do well by studying for hours on end, and others can cram for a final exam in just a few minutes. But no matter how good you are at studying, there’s always room for improvement. 

The truth is that everyone learns differently, and some techniques work better than others. But it’s up to you to figure out what works best for you. If you’re looking to maximize your study time with minimal effort, here are some tips that might be helpful.

You Can Maximize Your Study Time by Focusing on What Works for You

Try different methods of learning, including online quizzes and flashcards. If you aren’t sure which method works best for you, experiment with a few before choosing one to use consistently throughout the semester.

Use resources relevant to your course content. Learn how to find these types of resources and how they should be used to get the most out of them during class time. For instance, SweetStudy announced the launch of a note bank containing study documents from some of the most popular universities. These are very useful when you want a condensed version of the course books and also to create flash cards.

Figure Out Your Learning Style

The first step in learning how to study efficiently is figuring out your learning style. Everyone has one, and it’s an important part of the equation when it comes to maximizing your study time. You may also want to think back on previous classes or subjects that were easier for you than others. If certain subjects were easy for you and others were hard, then take note of those differences as well. 

According to Adrienne Edwards, Assistant Professor and Program Director of Human Development and Family Studies at Winthrop University, there are four basic learning styles. Youngsters are likely to settle into theirs between the ages of birth and five. They are as follows:

  • Auditory 
  • Visual 
  • Movement 
  • Tactile

Find a Study Space You’ll Work In

Nir, in his book ‘How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life’, states that turning off your alerts may help you focus, but it will not make you distraction-free. External stimuli account for just 10% of our diversions. So, simple math will tell you that the vast majority of triggers are caused internally.

To maximize your study time, find a space where you’ll be able to work in peace and quiet. This place must be free from distractions, so if people or pets might interrupt you, try and find a study spot where they’re not likely to go. This can be difficult in shared spaces like bedrooms. So for many students, it makes sense to choose another room entirely as your study area.

Don’t forget about comfort. You’re going to spend a lot of time here. You want it to be somewhere that feels good on the body and mind when studying for long periods. If possible, bring some kind of desk or table into the room with you. Also, think about whether or not cleaning up will be easy once you finish studying. If not, then try creating an area that has enough space around it.

Create a Study Routine and Stick To It

The first step in creating a study routine is identifying the gaps in your studies. If you’re trying to get ahead on a subject, what areas need more work? Do you need help with memorization or comprehension? Are some concepts difficult for you to understand, or do they just seem tedious? 

Once you have identified these gaps, create a plan of attack that will address them. Your plan might look something like this: “I need to focus my attention on memorizing this information by doing twenty minutes of practice every day from Monday until Thursday. Then I will spend Friday reviewing everything I have learned so far before moving on to the next unit.”

The Feynman approach simplifies a topic to its fundamental elements, allowing for simple memory retention.

  • Identify a subject that you are having difficulty comprehending or would like to learn more about.
  • Assume you’re a teacher who needs to convey this topic to a curious 12-year-old. Write your explanation in the most basic terms possible.
  • Identify any gaps in your explanation and go back over the source material to fill them. Ask “why?” after every phrase, just like a 12-year-old.
  • Once the explanation is finished, modify and shorten it so that it is as basic and easy to understand as feasible.

Get Organized

Organizing your study space is a must. You will be spending a lot of time at home, and you must not end up feeling overwhelmed by the mess. If there are piles of books and papers everywhere, you will find it difficult to concentrate on your studies or even just relax.

Organize all your study materials in a place where you can easily access them when needed. This means, if possible, placing them on shelves or in folders throughout the house so they aren’t just scattered around in random places where they can get lost or damaged if knocked over by accident. Make sure to set aside blocks of time every day where nothing else gets done except studying. 

Create Flashcards to Remember Information

Flashcards are a great way to drill information into your head. They can be used for anything from learning new vocabulary, memorizing the order of the planets, or even studying for an exam.

To get started with flashcards:

Use an App

This is probably the simplest option, but it’s also one that may not work well for you if you don’t have access to your mobile device while studying. If this is an option, however, check out Anki or Quizlet as some popular choices that are free and easy to use.

Create a Physical Flashcard System

Some people prefer physical flashcards over computerized ones because they find them easier to reference. You could also create your own set by writing on blank index cards with a pen or pencil and creating dividers using colored stickers or paper clips. 

Take Breaks

It’s hard to think straight when you’re constantly working. The brain has a natural tendency to wander, so you need to give it something else to focus on if you want to get things done efficiently.

Taking breaks allows your mind some time away from whatever it was doing before. A good break will keep you fresh and ready for the next task at hand. When taking a break, try not to do anything too mentally demanding. Instead, do something relaxing like reading a book or going for a walk outside. It’s important that your brain can rest without being disturbed by what you’re doing in your downtime. If possible, try having some kind of activity planned out for every hour or so of studying. This could be something like taking five minutes after every hour. 

Use Online Quizzes as Study Aids

Online quizzes can be a great way to check what you know. They’re especially helpful if you’re trying to learn new information or consolidate old material. Online quizzes are usually free, come in many different forms, and are easy to use.

Tons of websites offer free practice questions on almost every topic imaginable. When taking an online quiz, ensure it’s timed so that it has some pressure on you. This will help simulate the real test experience better than just taking random tests. After completing an assessment, review your results so you know where there might be room for improvement.

So there you have it, our top tips for studying smarter, not harder. We hope this post will help you get the most out of your study time. 

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