Tag Archives | study

How to Develop Your Study Skills – Work Smarter, Not Harder

Even the most dedicated students will go through periods when they’re struggling to focus on studying. For students who want to achieve their goals, it is imperative that they have a dedicated study plan.

Studying isn’t about how long you do it, but how much you learn. When you’re studying, it’s important to try and avoid any distractions, and focus on the task at hand. Effective studying isn’t about sitting at your desk and staring at a book all day. In fact, research has shown that studying is more effective in short blocks. Do some work and take a break – you will find that you learn more overall.

Have a look at this infographic from Study Medicine Europe for more detail on how you can make the most of your study time. Work smarter, not harder!

This article was contributed by guest author Aris Grigoriou.

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How Your Study Environment Affects Productivity

Image by pexels.com

Have you ever been studying for hours and all you could remember was one sentence? Did those hours ever turn into days and days into weeks? There are probably numerous factors affecting your productivity while studying, including stress, time of day, and motivation, but one that you might have overlooked is your physical environment. In fact, a study done with primary school pupils proved that physical surroundings can impact children’s performance and well-being in general by as much as 16 percent. College students are not immune to this influence either. When studying at home, in a rented apartment or in a dorm, you are the only one in charge of your focus, and one thing that can help you (or sabotage you) is the environment. Here is everything you need to know about your physical surroundings and productivity.

Background Noise
Do you have trouble keeping your attention focused or get easily distracted? Can even a quiet sound pull you out of the book to your surroundings? Sometimes it isn’t just about the volume. Many students get distracted by the most ordinary and inconspicuous “noise”, like a leaking faucet. Others can’t seem to focus when it’s too quiet. The trick is getting to know yourself. Do you perform better in silence or perhaps you need background music to be able to focus? Try to study at the library, park, and coffee shop and see which level of noise keeps your brain sharp.

Lighting
Reading in dim lighting strains your eyes, while harsh artificial lighting can give you a headache, but this factor goes way beyond eye problems. Lighting affects alertness, concentration and cognitive performance in general. Too much artificial light can make you stressed and sleepy. The temperature and direction of lighting are significant factors that can hurt or enhance your studying results. Cool white sources with a temperature of 6,500 Kelvin or higher and warm white light sources like halogen lamps are the most suitable. Planar light sources are the best when it comes to direction, since they mimic natural light.

Temperature
You may be able to stay focused in a too hot or too cold room, but only for a little while. These circumstances are bound to become unbearable. The temperature will quickly become everything you can think about, which will distract you from studying. Find the most comfortable temperature for you, set the thermostat (if you don’t have one – get one) and make sure it is constant, because changes in temperature can also mess with your concentration.

Air Quality
Poor air quality, which is most frequently caused by problems with heating, air-conditioning, ventilation systems, and insufficient cleaning, can play a major role in studying performance. Polluted air makes learning uncomfortable by causing problems like coughing, watery eyes, headaches, nausea and dizziness. Some of the steps that are useful for improving air quality in a studying space are opening the windows several times a day, switching to organic cleaning products, cleaning your air-conditioner filters, introducing indoor plants, and using HEPA air purifiers which don’t make a lot of noise, but still purify the air efficiently.

Distractions
“Oh look, my smartphone. I should probably check Facebook for important updates.” Sound familiar? Of course, studying can be interesting if you are learning about a subject you like, but most of the time it is boring or difficult, so everything around you seems like a better way to spend your time. Try to turn off your phone (and computer if you are not using it for studying) or leave it in some other room. Reward yourself with breaks when you will be allowed to check your e-mail, complain about the hardships of studying on Facebook, etc. Also, too much comfort can be a distraction – a cozy blanket and soft pillows simply call for an afternoon nap.

You should take all these factors into account and try to create the perfect environment that will boost your productivity.

This article was contributed by guest author Chloe Taylor.

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6 Clever Ways to Better Organize Your Study Room

Image by Lana Hawkins

When it comes to studying, so much depends on your organization – where you study separates a straight-A student from an average one. You have to be organized, systematic and methodic in order to achieve success. And you have to repeat it day after day, from enrolment into college to graduation. The best way to get fully organized is to organize your study room – in your dorm or at home – and achieve a certain level of comfort in this area so you won’t mind spending countless hours there. Here’s how.

No Distractions
This may be the biggest problem for students across the USA – there are just too many distractions around them! Smartphones, TVs, computers, fridges, beds and other people constantly distract them from their studying, so they’d rather catch up with the revival of Gilmore Girls than do some actual work.

The best way to limit distractions is to remove them from your immediate surroundings. Leave the phone in the kitchen, unplug the TV, switch your Wi-Fi router off and forget about sleeping or eating for a few hours. Even if you are the most disciplined student ever, don’t try your luck around these interruptions and just leave them behind. Or, learn how to use them so that it’ll be beneficial for you.

Organize Your Literature
Exemplary students own tons of books, textbooks and other studying material that assist them. However, unless organized adequately, these will occupy your entire room in an instant. That’s why you need to come up with a good system. The most important thing is a proper shelf – regardless of how big it is, you must have one if you want to organize your books. If you have a problem with the space as all students do, think outside the box and, instead of purchasing a huge shelf, make one on your own or create a unique piece that doubles as a headboard for your bed.

Declutter, Declutter, Declutter
Students possess too many things and bring too much stuff into their dorm rooms – and that’s only natural with the abundance of books, magazines, foods and drinks that go through their hands every single day. But, if this mess overtakes you, you’ll be frustrated and unable to hit the books.

Find time to clean your room once a week and figure out what you do and don’t need in your study area. That way, you’ll leave enough time for studying and won’t have to waste precious minutes cleaning day after day.

Investigate Alternative Spaces
You don’t have to study behind the desk all the time, you know. When in college, you can do basically whatever suits you, as long as it brings results. So, stop forcing habits you don’t enjoy.

For example, numerous students take their books to bed. While many think this is a bad idea and that your mind associates the bed only with sleeping, others think this is the best thing ever. Additionally, explore other spaces – relocating to the floor, the window seat or the kitchen can do wonders for your productivity.

Find a Suitable Desk
The problem with US dormitories is their what-you-see-is-what-you-get philosophy. While some don’t mind adaptations and redecorations, others frown upon any changes. This could be a problem for a number of students because their default beds or desks aren’t suitable.

That’s why you should find a way to bring in your own desk. See if your old high school desk is still functional, or make a new one. Both of these options are fine, as long as they allow you to study.

Organize the Desk
Now that you’ve found the perfect desk, it’s time to organize all your writing utensils and studying material. Purchase some pencil cups, desk organizers, vertical shelves, folders, file carriers, boxes and plastic containers.

Also, organize your wires and cords with a coated wire basket – this is especially useful with those excellent ergonomic standing desks that support your spine during longs hours of studying. Finally, if you need help keeping track of all your tasks, install a bulletin board.

The Results!
Once you organize your study room – whether it’s in your dormitory or at your home – you’re ready to go! You’ve got all your necessities close by, there are no distractions and you’re completely focused on your work. Soon you’ll realize that an organized study area will result in better grades.

This article was contributed by guest author Lana Hawkins.

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Feeling Burnt Out? 4 Study Strategies to Get You over an Academic Slump

Image by Samuel Zeller, unsplash.com

Image by Samuel Zeller, unsplash.com

Studying is hard. You have countless facts and ideas that must be memorized, then put into practice to show that you have mastered these concepts.

Students regularly “burn out” because they hit a wall when they study. They’re unable to progress because they lose the motivation to do so, which in turn leads to faltering grades and a harder time completing that often highly-priced education.

Let’s take a look at four study strategies that can help you overcome study burnout:

1. Take Breaks During the Day
Despite what seems sensible, continuing to push yourself in one direction without a break will lead to less progress than if you take proper breaks. This happens because, unlike a machine, your drive tends to wear out as you focus on one topic for a prolonged period.

To overcome this, ensure that you take regular breaks. Get up, stretch, walk around, or even take a small jog. A distraction can provide enough relaxation to give you the boost you need to avoid study burnout while efficiently learning your course material.

2. Take Care of Your Body
Your brain’s ability to think clearly is often a direct reflection of how well you maintain your body. Everything from the food you eat to the restfulness of your sleep will dictate how much energy you have to learn.

To ensure that you can study for longer periods of time and in more effective ways, you should:

• Eat well: Avoid the temptation that is fast food by opting for healthy, nutritious foods. Home-cooked meals including fish, chicken, fruits and vegetables will provide your body and mind with ample nutrients to stay strong.
• Exercise regularly: Exercise encourages blood circulation, which helps to bring oxygen and nutrients to the brain. It also helps to release hormones that can elevate your mood.
• Sleep well: Sleep is one of the processes your body uses to repair itself. Without adequate sleep, our brains become sluggish and unable to remember even the simplest of details.

3. Cater to Your Specialty
Many students try to balance every subject required for their degree. Medical students require a broad field of study, which ranges from English courses to non-medicine sciences.

This stretching is often what accounts for the 54.4 percent of burnout in medical specialties.

One way to avoid this is to engage in a medical program that focuses on your specialty in ways that make sense. Many Master of Science in Nursing programs, for example, focus on your needs as a prospective medical professional. Additional degree requirements are structured in ways that medical students can better understand.

If you’re a medical student who feels on the edge of burnout, another tactic is to spend a single day working on your weakest subject. By focusing solely on this study, you can empower yourself to feel more confident about all your studies, which in turn can reinvigorate your ability to learn.

4. Set Realistic Goals
One of the biggest causes of study burnout is the fact that students seldom set realistic goals. They try to, for example, cram an entire textbook worth of knowledge into their heads the night before a final exam.

When you’re setting your study goals, make sure they are:

• Specific: Reading one chapter a week is a specific goal.
• Attainable: Don’t set yourself up for failure by setting your goals too high. Keep your study goals realistic and attainable.
• Timed: Force your studying to stay within your time constraints. This will help you keep your progress steady without burning yourself out.

Studying is a Gradual Process
The one thing to realize about studying is that is a gradual process. You will need to continue learning and putting what you learn into use to keep it in your mind.

This is why shorter periods of study mixed with breaks will often yield better results than longer study marathons. If you keep your focus on your goal and take small steps, you will inevitably obtain your academic goals without burning out.

This article was contributed by guest author Anica Oaks.

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How To Foster A Study Conducive Environment

Image by Filipp Kozachuk, pexels.com

Image by Filipp Kozachuk, pexels.com

Self-study is just as important as the process of gaining knowledge and building concepts. It is very important that a certain input of knowledge is reinforced positively and the environment is conducive to promote retention of knowledge. Hard work needs to be strengthened by smart work which includes boosting your productivity by having the right setting to set your study mode on. The environment you work in will determine how successful your learning efforts will be, and how much will actually sink in. Controlling your study environment can help you identify where you’re lacking so you can fill in the loopholes deterring you from achieving maximum efficiency in your academic life.

Say ‘NO’ to mobile phones and technology!
What if I tell you to switch off the WiFi when studying? Sounds impossible, right? The pre-conceived notion we have regarding the crucial importance of internet proves to be quite a big distraction sometimes. Manage your screen time so you’re not led away by incessant notifications flooding your smartphone. Social media can be addictive and you need to forcibly withdraw yourself from this habit of being hooked onto hours and hours of Facebook scrolling, live streaming videos or texting. Before you realize, your precious time is lost.

Have a separate study room/corner to yourself
You can’t expect yourself to be able to concentrate in the middle of the living room with people around and your roommate watching their favorite show. Get some privacy to give your 100% to the subject matter at hand so you’re not distracted by background noises and annoying giggles from the next room. Even a designated study corner to cater to your study needs can help you focus. College life often makes this possible by having quiet study rooms and a library full of the most helpful resources.

Music is therapy
No one can deny the effects of music on your mood and the way it facilitates your thought processes. Music is a great way to rev up your spirits and put you in the mood to get you started. Some personalities may prefer silence but some others feel energized by the beat of the music and the rhythm it puts them in. Often people can better concentrate on their studies with earphones plugged in their ears, shutting them off from the rowdy outside world.

Keep yourself organized
You will be surprised at the psychological effect that a cluttered workspace or even a crowded desktop can have. Keeping your mind as well as your surrounding organized is a surefire way to enhance productivity. Your mind is programmed to work best when there are minimal visual distractions. Paperwork spread all over the place or important documents in a haphazard order can wreak havoc in your study area. Instead, keep track of your things in proper folders, and track expenses on excel sheets.

This article was contributed by guest author Rachael Everly.

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Study Tricks to Get You Through College

Image by StartupStockPhotos, pixabay.com

Image by StartupStockPhotos, pixabay.com

You spend a lot of money and invest a lot of time in your college education. To make the most out of your college career, you should consider a few study tricks that will help you sail through smoothly.

Use School Resources
Colleges are geared toward successfully educating students. They have tons of educational resources available to you on campus. Some places you may want to look for resources include the library, student services, the school’s website, career center, study sessions, and peer tutoring services. By just asking, you can find a lot of services and free resources you haven’t taken advantage of yet.

Online Resources
There are many online resources that will make your education much easier. You can find classes for an online masters in organizational leadership or supplemental courses for your own major. Services range from online tutoring, to free classes on a variety of subjects from Saylor Academy, to managing your academic career with an app like iHomework. Just performing a google search for help may return some extremely useful web tools which are available to you around the clock.

Get to Know Your Professor
It may seem old fashioned, but talking to and getting to know your professors is a great tool professionally as well as academically. They are a wealth of knowledge, and are there to help you succeed. Getting to know each professor can give you insight on how they grade, what their expectations are, and they might even serve as a mentor to you and help guide you in your career path. You never know what great benefits you might receive from forming professional relationships.

Study Groups
Many students form study groups. If study groups are well-organized and efficient, they offer many benefits. Some of the benefits include seeing information from different perspectives, filling in learning gaps, no procrastinating due to a set time for studying, and learning to work cooperatively with others. Be sure you choose your study group wisely. If you find the group mostly chats and wastes time, you should search for a new one.

Be Prepared for Class and Take Comprehensive Notes
Completing homework and the required reading before class is critical. The lecture will be based on your assigned reading and the professor will highlight important information during class. You will understand the lecture more thoroughly if you go to class prepared. During lecture, your note-taking should become an art. You will rely on your notes to review for tests, so they must be comprehensive. If you still do not understand a concept during lecture, ask for clarification in class or through an email.

Use these tips, and you’ll be that much closer to success!

This article was contributed by guest author Brooke Chaplan.

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How to Make a Study Space in a Small Dorm Room

Study-Space-Large-

Image by Daniel Borman on Flickr

Getting by in college can be a challenge, especially when you’re confronted with the small confines of a typical college dorm room. College is a time to concentrate and minimize your distractions so you have more options for work when you leave school. If you want to get a masters or doctoral degree at a school like Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions, you’ll find you need excellent study skills and a highly efficient workspace. Don’t leave decorating and space organization until halfway through the year. Make sure your dorm can accommodate you and all the studying you need to do.

Shelving Units

You don’t need to spend a lot of money on shelves, but you should certainly put something on those walls to make the best out of your space. There are very affordable stackable crates you can use for bookcases, or you can purchase some racks to help organize your papers. If you have a lot of papers and you live with another person, make sure to get folders to keep your papers from getting lost or shuffled around. Organize your shelves in a way that maximizes your study time, and promotes movement so you can go for longer lengths of time without breaks to find your materials.

Get a Mini Fridge

If you don’t yet have a mini-fridge, seriously consider one. You can put a printer, more shelves, and other items on top of the fridge, or it can double as a nightstand. It will provide you with a great deal of convenience you might not otherwise have. Keep coffee and snacks in the fridge to help power you through long study sessions, and you can even use the top as a plate warmer to keep your food warm while studying. Obviously, it won’t keep food extremely hot, but it can keep pizza and sandwiches warm enough to be enjoyable.

Set Up Tension Rods

Small tension rods can be placed almost anywhere. If you need a place to hang your coats, get a tension rod and place it between two walls. You can set up a makeshift closet in nearly any corner, and save space in the process. If you want to free up more space, attach used soda caps to the ends of coat hangers, and loop another coat hanger through the bottom hole of the cap. This way you can hang two items for every coat hanger, and save additional room in your closet. This leaves more room for storing other items like shoes, books, and study materials.

Get a Shoe Organizer

Unless you have tons of shoes, get a shoe organizer and use it to store snacks, pens, pencils, tools, and other school supplies. It’s much more organized than pushing things away in drawers, and the see-through plastic makes it easier to see everything inside. You can hang the organizer from your door and free up additional desk space that can be used for more important items you need immediate access to. Never lose your keys again by throwing them in the top organizer pocket as you walk through the door.

Organize Your Cords

If you’ve got a lot of electronics you often need to plug in when you get home and sit at your desk, consider using binder clips to keep the cords from falling behind the desk. Clip the binder clip to the edge of the table and loop power, usb, or other cords through the clip. When you’re done using the cable, it won’t slip down behind the desk. This can help save you time by not having to dig down behind the desk to get your cables.

Get creative and you’ll find that there are plenty of ways to organize your dorm to maximize your space. Having an organized dorm will help you to have a more productive study space and save you money and time. A more enjoyable and productive college experience is possible with these tips, and the time you save can be used building meaningful relationships with your friends.

This article was contributed by guest author Brooke Chaplan.

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Sleep is for the Weak: A Practical Student’s Guide to the Dreaded All-Nighter

Image by Veronica Stewart

Image by Veronica Stewart

The first thing you need to know about pulling an all-nighter is that you shouldn’t. Honestly, if you have any other options, don’t do it. An all-night cram session is never a substitute for a good study strategy. Whether you have had past success with this last minute method or not, it is always risky, both for your grades and your health. However, as a university student myself, I know there times when this technique, though frowned upon and often ineffective, is unavoidable. Midterms and exams tend to cluster and no matter how accommodating your professors may be, there just aren’t enough hours in the day (or week. Or semester for that matter). Fear not – I am not here to shame you for procrastinating or criticize your FOMO (fear of missing out)-induced overscheduling. I’m here to help you survive the night. Everyone has their own style, but these are some of the tips and tricks students swear by to stay awake.

  1. Caffeinate: If you are currently attending a post-secondary institution, this should come as no surprise. Caffeine is like oxygen to the academic. So if it works, why mess with a good thing? Coffee, soda, or chocolate – get it any way you like, but remember to pace yourself. Too much of this stimulant will start to wear away at your ability to concentrate.
     
    Tip: Try tea. Its health benefits may be able to offset the bodily strain of a sleepless night.
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  3. Drink: Water, of course. What were you thinking? Staying hydrated is essential to fighting off the detrimental “I’ll just close my eyes for a few seconds” urge. It is also said to increase alertness and improve your focus.
     
    Tip: Protect the environment. Always use a reusable water bottle.
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  5. Move: Do jumping jacks. Run on the spot or attempt some push-ups. A few exercises can be just the kick start you need after hours of minimal movement. Get your blood pumping and give yourself a much deserved mental break.
     
    Tip: Keep it quiet. Your sleeping roommates will thank you.
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  7. Keep it light: Sleep is your body’s biological response to the dark of night. The darker your workspace, the harder it will be to fight this impulse. The solution? Turn on the lights and keep them on. Brightening your room will trick your body, and thus you, into thinking you need to stay awake.
     
    Tip: To maximize light output, remove the shades from your lamps if possible.
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  9. Set an alarm: It’s time to face the facts. No matter what you do, you may still fall asleep, and that’s okay, as long as you get up in time to write your exam, hand in your essay or fulfill whatever other obligation got you into this bind in the first place. Setting at least one alarm for the next morning is not negotiable.
     
    Tip: Set your alarm for an hour or so earlier than you need to be up. That way you still have a chance to finish what dosing off may have prevented you from doing the previous night.

10 Study Tips for Exam Season

Image by rabiem22, Flickr

Image by rabiem22, Flickr

Another exam season has arrived – and you’re probably thinking it came way too fast. Don’t panic – we’ve compiled a few tips to make sure you study the best you can to retain the most information.

  1. Stay healthy, both mentally and physically

  2. Your body won’t function properly if your brain is lacking energy. Now is not the time to eat chips or skip meals. Eat on your normal schedule, and eat well. The last thing you want to do is get sick or feel lethargic when you need your brain in tip-top shape. Remember to also keep a positive attitude about exams (as difficult as that sounds) – you may be stressed, but know you’re trying your best and keep your focus on the light at the end of the tunnel.

  3. Stay focused and eliminate distractions

  4. Shut off your phone and put your technology away. If you need your laptop for notes, disable your internet connection; that way, if you’re even tempted to log onto Facebook, the “you are not connected to the internet” warning will remind you of what you should be doing. If you live with roommates, make sure they know you need space and silence for your study time; if they can’t help socializing, relocate to a library.

  5. Give yourself time

  6. Generally, exam season comes right after end-of-semester essay season, which follows almost-end-of-semester presentation season, which follows midterms. You feel like you have zero study time. Realize that even if it’s not much, you just need to make the most of it. Postpone outings with your friends until after exams. Stop complaining about not having time (you’re just wasting it!), buckle down and use the time you’ve got. If you have a free night in between assignments, use it to review what you’ve learned recently. Anything you can do during the semester will help when it comes to exam season.

  7. Create a plan

  8. Spend the first half hour of study time preparing yourself mentally and getting organized. Figure out what you need to study, and how much time you have. Divide the work up over that amount of time and study different sections each day/hour (depending how tight your schedule is). Use the last day of your study time to do a full review. Don’t get stuck on one concept and spend your entire study time on it.

  9. Stay organized

  10. Make sure your study space is clear of any distractions, extra papers, or garbage. At the beginning and end of each study session, clean up your workspace. It will help psychologically – your brain will feel decluttered. Start each day fresh and keep track of what you’ve made progress on. If it helps, make a list of the topics you need to cover, and cross each one off as you complete it. You’ll feel accomplished.

  11. Draw pictures

  12. We’re not talking about scribbles of cats and dogs. Draw a chart or image that pertains to your studies. Even a simple flow chart of steps in a process could do wonders. Sometimes in exams, these are easier for your brain to remember than pages and pages of words. Don’t be afraid to use some colour, but keep your drawings simple; don’t waste your time getting that arrow perfectly straight.

  13. Use old exams and practice questions

  14. If you can get your hands on exams from previous years (which many professors give out as examples), don’t discount them. Study for a while, then try the exam. Chances are your professor will not use the exact same exam, but at least you’ll get an idea of their style and how questions might be phrased.

  15. Talk about it

  16. You’d be surprised how much easier it is for information to stick in your head when you say it out loud. Meet up with a friend and talk out your responses to questions, and you’ll quickly realize which concepts you understand, and which you may need to spend more time on. Take this opportunity to ask your friend questions about topics you’re fuzzy on, or book an appointment with your teaching assistant or professor.

  17. Take breaks

  18. Don’t try to study for 24 hours straight. You will get tired, and your brain will get tired. You’ll stop retaining information. It’s a good idea to take short breaks, even just for a 5 minute stretch, every half hour or hour. Get some food and fresh air. Give the information you’ve been studying a chance to sink in, and then get back to the books. Set aside time at the end of each study session to relax – don’t go to bed stressing about the exam. Your body needs sleep! Listen to some music or read a book to wind down.

  19. Know your study style

  20. Not everyone studies the same way. You may retain information the best when you talk to a friend; others may need quiet reading time; others may need to write things out repetitively. By now, you should know what works for you. Don’t study with your friends because it’s what they need. If you don’t work well that way, do your own thing. Your friends won’t be writing your exam with you, so make sure you do what’s going to work for you.

Did we miss a study tip? Tweet us @StudentsDotOrg and let us know!

Good luck with your studying – the end is near!