How Do You Study? by Camille Short

        Do you sometimes feel like your study habits simply aren’t cutting it? Do you wonder what you could be doing to perform better in class and on tests? There are many effective study strategies that are shown to be useful in middle school.

          Putting these tips into your study routine will help you learn class material. One thing that I have to say before starting these tips, is that everyone is different when it comes to studying preferences. You will want to experiment with them and find the ones that work for you.

weekend study group
Spacing Out is Good
         The important thing is how you use your study time, not how long you study. Long study sessions lead to less concentration and thus a lack of learning and memorization.
         In order to spread out studying over short periods of time across several days and weeks, you need to control your schedule. Keeping a list of tasks to complete daily will help you include material for each class. Try to do something for each class each day. This will make you less stressed when it comes to the end of the week.
        Spacing out helps to keep procrastination away. Rather than having to face a long project for four hours on Monday, you can face the project for thirty minutes each day. When you have to memorize material for class (names, dates, formulas), it is best to make flashcards for this material and review them throughout the day rather than one long, cramming session.

It is Good to be Intense
         Not all studying is equal. You will accomplish more if you study thoroughly. Intensive study sessions are short and will allow you to get work done with minimal wasted effort. Shorter, intensive study times are more effective than drawn out studying.
         In fact, one of the most impactful study strategies is distributing studying over multiple sessions. Intensive study sessions can last thirty or forty-five minute sessions and include active studying strategies. For example, self-testing is an active study strategy that improves the intensity of studying and efficiency of learning. However, planning to spend hours on end self-testing is likely to cause you to become distracted and lose your attention.
         Also, you can download a pomodoro timer on your phone. It is a twenty-five minute study session. Then, you get a five minute break. After three or four rounds of this, you reward yourself with a twenty minute break.

Problems are your Friend
         Working and re-working problems is very important if you are struggling. Be able to explain the steps of the problems and why they work.
         In classes such as math, it is usually more important to work problems than read the text. In class, write down in detail the practice problems demonstrated by the teacher. Analyze each step and ask questions to the teacher if you are confused.
         When preparing for tests, put together a large list of problems from the course. Work the problems and explain the steps and why they work.

Reconsider Not Multitasking
         Multi-tasking does not improve performance and actually affects results in a negative way.
         In order to study smarter, not harder, you will need to eliminate distractions during your study sessions. Social media, playing games, texting, etc. will severely affect the concentration of your study sessions. Research is clear that multi-tasking (e.g., responding to texts, while studying), increases the amount of time needed to learn material and decreases the quality of the learning.          

Switch up your Setting
         Find several places to study and change up your space if you find that it is no longer a working space for you.
         Know when and where you study best. It may be that your focus at 10:00 PM, not 10:00 AM. Perhaps you are more productive at a coffee shop with background noise, or in a quiet library.
         Have a variety of places in and around school that are good study environments for you. That way wherever you are, you can find your perfect study spot.


Become a “Teacher”
         Try to explain the material in your own words, as if you are the teacher. You can do this in a study group, with a study partner, or on your own. Saying the material aloud will point out where you are confused and need more information and will help you retain the information.
         Creating a quiz for yourself will help you to think like your teacher. Quizzing yourself is a highly effective study technique. Make a study guide and carry it with you so you can review the questions and answers throughout the day and across several days. Identify the questions that you don’t know and quiz yourself on only those questions. Say your answers aloud. This will help you to remember the information and make corrections where they are needed. Re-do the problems that give you trouble. Learning the material in this way actively engages your brain and will significantly improve your memory.

Use Downtime to your Advantage
         Beware of easier weeks. Easier work weeks are a great time to get ahead on work or to start long projects. Use the extra hours to get ahead on assignments or start big projects or papers. It is preferable to do some work for each of your classes every day. Spending thirty minutes per class each day will add up to three hours per day, but spreading this time out over five days is more effective than cramming it all in during one long three-hour session. If you have completed all of the work for a particular class, then use the extra thirty minutes to get ahead or start a longer project.

         These are my helpful tips when studying for a quiz, test, or a final. I hope that you can find your perfect combination of study habits to improve your grades.