7 Science-Backed Tips for Smarter Studying

by Amanda Cross

Studying always takes effort, but did you know that you could be causing yourself extra time and stress by not thinking about how you’re studying? We rounded up a list of science-backed study tips that will help you take you study smarter, not harder. No more stress crying at long study sessions!

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1. Stop multitasking

You may think you’re multitasking like a champ, but you’re actually just doing multiple things poorly. We all want to be productive and knock out our to-do list in less time, but doing various tasks at once is not the way to do that. When we take things one step at a time, we decrease the amount of time spent on each task.

According to a 2015 study from the University of Connecticut, multitasking in and out of class is hurting students. College students who multitasked in-class had a lower overall college GPA than stud

ent’s who didn’t multitask. The researchers also found that multitasking outside of class leads to more time spent studying. If these two facts alone don’t raise alarm bells, we don’t know what will.

2. Get your heart rate up

You may not want to dive head first into studying without getting a little exercise in first. Exercise will give you more en

ergy to get through your workout, and there are some scientific correlations between just walking and brain health. When your overall health is going well, it translates to the health of other parts of your body, including your brain.

We know that exercise helps people of all ages, so don’t be afraid to make a simple workout part of your daily routine. You likely won’t have to go far or even pay for workout classes if you use your campus workout center. And with benefits to your physical and mental health, you really can’t lose with this one.

3. Study actively

Often students depend on passive activities like reading their textbook or highlighting important passages because they were never taught vital studying skills. But passive studying is never the most effective approach to learning.

Here are some techniques to try that will make your studying a more active exercise:

Overall, you want to approach learning in a variety of ways. Reading the textbook might work for some concepts, but it should never be the only tool in your studying toolbox. Break out of your studying rut through learning a variety of methods that will help you study effectively.

4. Create rewards for learning

It can be hard to convince yourself to  get out of bed and study for your calculus exam when scrolling through your Insta feed just seems so much more appealing. That is where your rewards system needs to come into play.

Create rewards as incentives  to study. Keep them simple, and don’t go overboard! Also, it’s important not to pick something you’re too obsessed with, because that will make it hard to concentrate on the task at hand.

For example, if you eat a lot of fast food, you may not want to wager fast food as a reward for studying. However, if you’re on a diet, you may say, “If I study 20 hours this week, I will treat myself to a meal at a fast food restaurant Friday.”

Make sure that your reward matches your task. Every night you study can’t equal a fast food meal. Create these goals for longer stretches of time.

That face!

5. Build space for studying

Studying in your bed seems peaceful, but in the end, it’s bad for your sleep and bad for studying.

We know that sleeping is beneficial for studying. Sleeping helps us retain what we learn and make connections, which is why we’re encouraged to stop pulling all-nighters.

Our brain begins to make associations with certain parts of our room. Our bed should be for sleeping because that’s where we sleep. When we throw school work into the equation, it confuses our brain. This makes it harder for us to fall asleep and harder for us to stay awake while studying. Talk about a double-edged sword!

Instead, create a space in your room that is dedicated to studying (your desk area) or go to a place on campus that is geared toward studying (such as the library.) This will help you create discernable areas in your brain where studying most often takes place.

6. Change things up

While it’s important to build your own personal space for studying, don’t be afraid to mix it up every blue moon! You may want to study in a coffee shop, in the library, or even under a shady tree. Being cooped up in your room all day may not be the best way to study after a while.

Teachers often change the environment for students to help them learn in new and exciting ways. You can do the same thing for yourself. Studies show that changing the context of words we’re trying to recall changes our memory. We can also apply this to our study environment.

7. Get a tutor

Last, but not least, getting a tutor is a great way to increase learning achievement. According to research synthesized by the National Education Association, peer tutoring is beneficial, especially when the tutors were explicitly trained in tutoring techniques.

The NEA found that cross-age and same age tutoring was just as effective, so it doesn’t matter what age difference you and your tutor have. Students benefit from tutors’ ability to personalize instruction.

There are many places that you may go to for tutoring services such as your campus tutoring center or through a 24/7 online tutor. Either way, you’re bound to benefit from the extra instruction.

Studying is essential in college, but if you use these methods, you can tackle your school subjects with ease. Writing a paper? Learn how to cite a book or website in MLA style and how to cite a book in APA style. Then try Citation Machine’s free and easy citation generator!