How to Study

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How to Study

One of the many factors in earning a good grade in school is how well you do on tests. In order to get a high grade on a test, you ultimately must study. Although study habits are one of the most important things a student should know, they are rarely taught in class. If you want to raise your test scores, studying is perhaps the best way to achieve this goal. Here are some tips on how to study effectively.

Many students think of studying as cramming for a big exam the night before. The truth of the matter is that this type of studying is counterproductive and rarely helps a student in the long run. Students learn best and retain information best by learning over time. This means that in order to learn something effectively, you must learn something and then revisit the learned information several times. Just as practice makes perfect, learning something and then reviewing it (in essence practice) can help you learn the most difficult topics effectively.

Time and Management Skills

studyingOne of the pitfalls that many students face is that they usually do not have enough time or do not put in enough time to study. While some students can learn and retain information faster than others, every student should figure out how much time is necessary for each class they attend. Whether it is 2 hours per class to study or 5 hours per class to study, time and management skills are extremely important. You should plan out your school week in order to give yourself time not only to attend class, but to review and study the information that you learned.

Some things to consider when learning how to manage your time is to figure out what time and days are the best for studying. Obviously, you don’t want to study Saturday afternoon or after 10 PM on school nights. Make sure the time you allocate for studying is congruent with your most productive hours. Many people like to study from 6PM to 8 PM. At this time they are still fresh and active.

Your Learning Style

To study is to learn and each person learns slightly differently. You probably know a student or two who use index cards to learn, others who record lectures and listen to them over and over again. And there are other students who find reading text books the best ways for them to learn information. There are yet others who learn a skill by constantly practicing it.

In order to study effectively, you must identify your personal learning style. In order to recognize your learning style, you should put some thought into how you learn best. If you are unsure, you should try out a few methods such as using index cards, taking detailed notes, recording and listening to lectures and reading textbooks or practicing math problems.

The Process of Studying

Your goal when studying is to learn new information and retain it. While some students usually only try to retain it for a few short days in order to pass a test, a good student should try to retain it for a long period of time. Obviously learning and retaining information for long periods of time takes hard work, but here are some tips to help you out.

Study regularly

It is important to study on a regular basis. Studying one day a month won’t help much; you need to study at regular intervals to not only learn new information, but retain to it effectively. Try to study for each class at least twice a week. The more regularly you study, the less time each study session needs to be. For instance, if you study for 8 hours in one day, you could have learned more by studying 4 days- two hours each day.

Study without Interruption

Another important thing to consider is that when you study, you should do so in an environment that is conducive to learning. This means that you should study without constant interruptions. Choose an environment that is quiet and preferably without things that compete for your attention. For instance, don’t study in a room full of noisy people or next to a TV set. Find a secluded place where you can focus all your energy on your studies.

Improve Your Study Skills

The process of studying requires you to improve certain skills to be more effective at learning. This means that you should be proficient at skills such as taking notes, listening and reading comprehension.

Taking Notes – Taking notes is a very big part of studying. A class can last several hours and by the time the class has finished, you might have already forgotten the main themes of the lecture. To be effective at studying, you should always take comprehensive notes.

Taking notes does not mean writing down everything the professor says, it means determining which information is important to learn and writing these specific ideas and facts onto paper. Notes are essential to good study habits and should be a top concern for you during class. Make sure that when you take notes, you write them down neatly. If you use your own shorthand, make sure you can understand it later on when you review your notes. If you missed anything important, feel free to ask your professor to go over a specific point with you again.

Active Listening - Just as note taking is very important, so is active listening. If the main way your professor communicates information is through a lecture, then your active listening skills must be proficient to be able for you to learn and pick out important information. While many students record lectures and then play it back, this is not entirely necessary. By actively and intently listening to your professor speak can help you understand key ideas and information. Actively listening and note taking usually go hand in hand. Once again, if you are unsure of what your professor has said or would like clarification it is important to raise your hand and ask.

Reading Comprehension – Reading is essential to learning and without good reading comprehension skills you will be at a disadvantage. If you have problems reading, you might want to sign up for a reading lab where they can teach how to read more effectively and where you can practice your reading under supervision. Some textbooks or resources can be bland and while not as interesting as the latest murder mystery it is important to be vigilant and read intently.

Test Taking

To many the goal of studying is to do well on tests. In essence, the higher your grade on a test equals a higher grade in a class. So for many students their purpose for studying is not so much learning the information, it is to do well on a test. Schools usually test students in a few different ways. They include multiple-choice tests, essay tests, fill-in-the-blanks tests and a mix of these three. Just like there are many strategies for learning information, there are strategies for studying for classes based upon the type of tests they give.

Studying for a Multiple Choice Test

Multiple-choice tests are usually the easiest tests to take because the answer has to be chosen from a set of options. The most important skill necessary to have in order to do well on a multiple-choice test is the ability to identify the right answer. You will have to know how to pick out the right answer even if you are not particularly sure about it. Generally speaking, if a multiple choice test gives four possible answers to a question where one is definitely correct, then within these four possible answers, one will be the right answer, two answers will usually be closely related to the answer and the fourth answer will be filler.

Essay Tests

Essay tests are usually the hardest tests to study for. Not only do you need to know certain facts, but you also need to understand the information that surrounds these facts, and then organize everything into a neat package. Essay tests require one to know not just the facts, but also how to write effectively so that ideas can be expressed on paper.

Fill-in-the-Blanks Tests

Not as easy as multiple-choice, but not as difficult as essays, fill-in-the-blanks tests are those in which incomplete statements are required to be completed. Fill-in-the-blank tests take the crutch away from multiple-choice tests. To study for a fill-in-the-blank test use index cards so that you can memorize specific terms or definitions for each item.


One of the toughest parts about studying is procrastinating. Many students don’t enjoy studying and usually wait to the last minute to start. If you can find the will to stop procrastinating and sit down and study, your studying will be much more effective and you will never have to cram again for a test.

Study Resources

For those who want to learn more about how to study, there are dozens of great resources available. You can start at your college or university, where there are usually study-centers, writing labs, reading labs and the like. Other resources include study handbooks, online forums and web sites that talk in detail about ways to learn and study for specific types of exams.

If all else fails, try our guide on how to speed read.

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