Effective Study Methods: How to Study

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This article will show you some effective study methods and will explain to you how to study effectively. You found this blog as you are probably searching for effective study techniques that will help you to succeed in a test, pass an exam or to improve your study skills. This article presents you some of the most effective study methods that you can implement when studying for your exams or when studying for college. 

However, knowing and applying effective study methods is not enough to succeed in college/university, therefore I would recommend you also to have a look at the following articles:

Effective Study Methods

Create a good study environment

One of the best places to study effectively is the library as it is a quite environment, where conversations are not tolerated or are only permitted in whispers. A library is also an excellent place where you much likely won´t get distracted as you will be asked to turn off your mobile phone. However, if you prepare to study at home you should look for a place where you won´t get distracted by any means (friends, parents, siblings, TV, internet, telephone, etc.). The better you can avoid distractions the more you can concentrate yourself to study effectively.

Improve your concentration

Concentration is a very important factor as it will help you to direct your whole attention and focus towards what you want to study. Here are some tips that help you to improve your concentration:

  • Avoid daydreaming
  • Choose a quiet and peaceful study environment
  • Avoid distractions
  • Be interested in what you have to study

Choose a study time

It is very important to know at what time of the day you are most efficient, as it helps you to use the time when you peak performance to study in an effective way. The following chart shows you the periods when a person is concentrated the most, which is generally in the morning (from approx. 8 AM to 11 AM and in the evening from approx. 5 PM to 9 PM). Try to evaluate the periods when you peak concentration and use this time to study.

What type of studying suits you best?

Every one of us is applying different studying methods, some of them are very effective others are not. The basic types of studying are Visual, Auditory, Emotional and Kinesthetic, but most of us are combining these three types unconsciously.

Tricks

Effective techniques for studying

  • Visual Learners

A Visual learner can study in an effective way when the learning material is depicted in a visual way; e.g. in the form of charts, maps or brainstorming. In order to study effectively, you should try to transfer the learning material into tables, charts or whatever suits you most that allows you to depict your material. Another very helpful tip is to highlight important notes in your study material with colorful markers.

  • Auditory Learners

An Auditory learner can study most effective when he can hear the material that needs to be remembered. You can do this by recording yourself reading your most important notes and mentioning the most important aspects or points of a topic. Afterward, you can listen to what you have recorded and visualize the important aspects you are talking about. After you finished listening to your record you can try to summarize what you just heard by explaining it to yourself. Another very effective way for an auditory learner is to join learning groups where he can speak with like-minded people about the study material.

  • Emotional Learners

Emotional learners can improve their study skills by associating feelings and emotions towards their studying material. I have discovered for myself that one of the most effective ways for me to remember something is by associating emotions with the topic that I would like to memorize. I noticed this as I found myself being able to remember nearly every title and name of the artists of songs that I really liked, without any effort! The more positive emotions I can associate the more likely I will remember it.

  • Kinesthetic Learners

Kinesthetic learners can study most effective when they can experience what they have to study. “Learning by doing” would be an excellent description for a kinesthetic learner, as they seek for distraction while studying (TV, music, etc.) and want to experience their studies more physical. This can be achieved by changing the study-place more often, pacing around the room or studying while in activities such as ironing, riding the exercise bike, eating or watching TV. Besides this, it is important to experience the study material, which can be achieved by visualizing what needs to remembered. It is very important to note that the kinesthetic studying methods only work for kinesthetic learners as they tend to distract the other learning types.

Apply Memorizing Techniques:

  • Repetition: In order to remember something effectively we need to move it from our Short Term Memory to the Long Term Memory. This can be achieved by repeating what you want to study over and over. Repetition can be achieved by depicting the study material into graphs, reading the study material out loud and listening to it thereafter and by visualizing the learning material.
  • Association: You can associate things to be remembered by creating mnemonics and/or by linking it to visual images or experiences. You can associate study material by linking it to self-created stories, images, colors, smells, and feelings. Whenever you need to remember what you have associated you just need to think of the story/image/etc. that you have linked to it and it will be very easy for you to recall the associated memory.
  • Summarize: A lot of students are overwhelmed when they have to memorize the whole content of a book that is the main part of one of their exams. Writing short summaries that highlight the most important points of a chapter can be utterly helpful to simplify information-heavy materials. Once you have summarized everything (I prefer a word processor, but you can also write it down on paper) you have a summing that contains the most important things you need to remember for your exam/test. Now, in order to memorize and remember the content of your summary, you should read the sentences out loud before you close your eyes and try to memorize the whole sentence.
  • Acronyms They can often be an excellent mnemonic that helps you to remember difficult words that you tend to forget. Acronyms work especially great when you can form relatively easy to remember acronyms, such as S.M.A.R.T (which stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed). When you are able to remember the acronym you will most likely be able to remember the words that are associated with it as well.
  • Rhythm & Music Do you remember the time when you learned the ABC? Well, if not then just ask a child to recite the ABC for you and you will notice that there is a certain rhythm, as children all over the world learn the ABC by singing it or by hearing the tune of music. You can make use of this memorizing technique by signing what you want to remember to a familiar tune.

The Article Effective Study Methods was presented to you by our Personal Development Blog.


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Steve is the founder of Planet of Success, the #1 choice when it comes to motivation, self-growth and empowerment. This world does not need followers. What it needs is people who stand in their own sovereignty. Join us in the quest to live life to the fullest!

49 Comments

  1. I find that learning something with application in mind is the most effective. I rarely try to “memorize” anything, just study it from the perspective of “how could I apply this?”.

    Works the best for me.

  2. my concentration hour is very late at night starting from about 8-9pm until around 2-3am in the morning. i can concentrate really well during this time which helps me to work with assignments/study very effectively. because of this, i tend to sleep really late and wake up really late usually around 11am noon time.
    but this make me work not effectively during the day every time i have class/something to do that force me to wake up at 8 or 9 in the morning. i even missed a lot of social events or lecture class quiet a lot because of this.
    do you have any suggestion about what i should do?

    • Hi Gabriel, the first idea that crossed my mind when I was reading your description of your situation was that you could try to set a fixed bedtime, on every day you have to wake up at 8am or 9 in the morning, so that you get enough sleep. Depending on your preferences, that would be 12pm – 1am, which would allow you to get enough sleep, so that you can work effectively during the day, without being too tired. The next step could be that you try to adhere to this fixed bedtime on a regular basis (during the week) so that you’re getting used it and develop a habit of getting to bed at XX o’clock.

      Nonetheless, I know how difficult it is to change one’s natural biorhythm and the body’s biological clock. So, if the time-frame between 8pm and 2am is your most effective “power time“, try to antedate this interval slowly but surely, until you manage to peak concentration between 7pm – 1am or even 6pm – 12pm, thereby allowing you to get to bed earlier.

      The best advice I can give you is to do what feels right for you and to be willing to try new concentration hours, maybe two hours after you came home from university until dinner and another session after dinner until 9pm, which would give you more freedom to go to social events in the evening.

      I always try to go by trial and error until I found a solution that fits my needs.

  3. everyday after returning from my school at 5.00 PM i feel sleepy , so i go to bed at that time. iget up about 7-7.30 and then i start studying ,after that i will not feel sleepy even after 3AM.I feel more comfortable at this calm atmosphere and make me more concentrated in the subjects. the problem is it is disturbing my family members .what to do?my biology text is a big one and iam not able to categorise the data into wanted and unwanted because when i read the text i feel that every thing is important. that tends me to memmorise the whole chapter. but anyone ask me to explain any topic related to that chapter iam able to do it.the problem is ,for memmorising the whole chapter itake one or two days .what to do?

    • Hi,

      I can relate to your situation, as I’ve experienced it myself. Similar to you, I also was very tired after returning from University and went to sleep for a couple of hours. Unfortunately, if I did that I couldn’t fall asleep during the night at all. This was a huge problem and in some way a vicious circle, because if I could not sleep well during the night I would be even more tired during the day, and therefore would sleep longer during the day.

      I solve this issue by refraining from sleeping during the day. It can be tough it can be difficult but this is the only thing that helps me. So whenever I face my daily sleepiness during 4 PM or 6:00 PM I do anything I can to stay awake. This means I will jump around the block for a couple of minutes or do some physical activity just for a couple of minutes, so that fresh blood gets into my brain. This always helps me to refrain from sleeping during the day. But this also means that I can sleep much better during the night. And as a result of this I am no longer so tired during the day. As a can see by working on this issue you might be able to solve the problem.

      You also wrote that your family gets in trouble when you stay up late as you disturb them during the night, which is of course understandable. Now if you work hard and avoids sleeping during the day you will be able to go to bed like every regular person. This means the problem with your family would be solved. Another approach would be to try your best not to disturb your parents during the night. This means that you try to be as silent as possible and to try to respect their night time.

      As your third issue you mentioned that you are not able to categorize the data. This is a huge problem, because it will make you learn a lot more things that you might not even need during your exams. Here is a trick that helps me to categorize data into important and unimportant: whenever I read a chapter in a book I have a notebook at hand where I write down only the most important aspects of the text. This means that when I read one chapter of about 10 pages I will summarize it into one page. By doing so I have only the most important aspects of the text in my notebook. And as you can see it is by far more easier to learn one site by heart than memorizing a whole chapter of a book. Maybe this could be a approach to solving your problem.

      I hope that helps, and rest assured you will make it if you focus and work hard.

  4. Hi, I really like ur articles.
    But I am having a problem and it seemed that u are able to solve it.
    Actually my exams are coming further. And i am having many subjects to study but as i used to sit down ro study, nothing goes in my mind rather my mind gets distract. I am having only 15 days to study and 10 subjects. Also i feel lazy to study although this is my important exam and my parents expect high percentage from me. Please give me suggestion to improve my concentration.
    Write soon.
    Thanks

    • Hi,

      In general, it is advisable that you plan a lot more time for studying. But as you have only 14 days left for studying we need to try to make the best out of the situation. Therefore, you have to give your best during this two weeks and you will have to take radical measures in order to succeed to the degree you want to.

      You write that you have problems with concentration. First of all, try to establish a healthy environment for studying. This means that you try to eliminate every kind of distraction that could potentially distract you. During studying you should not be distracted under any circumstances. This means that you could go to the nearest library where it is not allowed for you to speak or use your smart phone. Otherwise, lock up the remote control your computer your tablets or whatever you have that distracts you. Because the next two weeks you will have to do the following: eating, studying, sleeping.

      During the first days I’m very sure that concentration issues will arise. This is simply because your mind and your brain are in the habit of being interrupted constantly by thoughts or music, television or your mobile. But once you get into a new habit where you do not allow the slightest distraction to break your focus, things will go a lot easier. After these initial days, you will feel a lot more centered and focused and you will be able to hold a concentration up for a longer period of time.

      As a consequence of this, once you establish a proper concentration you will get your study material into your mind. But also be there that your current disability to get your study material into your mind could be a mental blockage. If this is the case, you could also try to elaborate where this mental blockage comes from. Is it that you are stressed? Can you create an interest into your study materials? Even if they seem boring? You see that these are many sources for mental blockages.

      I wish you good luck. These two weeks might be really exhausting, but it’s worth it if you succeed.

  5. Hi
    Thanks for the artical it is nice
    I need help please
    My problem is that I forget thinks I read
    I try my best to memorize things I read but I forget a lot of them
    Iam a medical student and I love medicine
    This causes troubles to me on daily sessions .. the doctor thinks that iam not studying or making enough efforts while actually iam
    Please help me :'(

    • Steve Mueller on

      I hope the following can help you. Most of the time when you study reading things is just not enough. Things need to be memorized. There are of course some very intelligent students who can read things and memorize everything that they have read. I for instance and not such a student. This means to me that event had to read a lot and to reread again and then to memorize things that are important.

      In order to memorize things it is really helpful to try to connect these things. Try to build jingles / mnemonic. What is important is that you try to connect everything. If you do not understand something is so much more difficult to remember it. You need to understand it and to connect it to previously established knowledge. This means that you will have to learn their very conscious manner.

  6. Plz tell me how to make me fully prepare for my exams…because only 7 days are left and I had only prepare maths,computer fully…and I have not learn anything from science, English, Hindi,History, Civics,Economics,Geography….plz tell how should I make me fully prepare for these unprepare subjects in 7 days….and I am very much distracted from my samrtphone too….plz give me a solution…plz reply fast

    • The best way to prepare yourself for an exam is to take the necessary amount of time, seven days is not really much. Nonetheless, if you have only seven days left this what I would do: lock every distraction away, from smart phone television etc. That should be nothing that distracts you. Go into a room where there is only a table and a stool. In this room, study as much as you can. Do not allow distracting thoughts to prevent you from study. Use the seven days that you have left to study intensively.

  7. I am new to your blog.i really love your articles.i am about going to a senior high school which is a boarding school.Actually the problem i face now is how i can study well.i have read articles of yours subjected to this problem and i really get it now.but i need your help.i want you to help me in how to always remember what i read during the time of exams where i have to account for everything i have read from day one to date.I mean how to remember things i have learnt in the past.i kind of forget some due to the new things i have to read

    • Thanks a lot Joseph. I can try to help you with your problem.

      I am pretty much the same study type as you are. When I read something I have great difficulties to remember it. Not to mention to reproduce the knowledge on the paper. What I do is that I use repetition, constant repetition, in order to get the study materials into my mind. This means that I will begin studying 30 days before an exam. I will learn the study materials by heart until I can memorize them. What I then do is that I only read the subject lines of a given object or I ask myself questions about the given subject, and I try to reproduce the material. I do this over and over, again and again, until everything is in my mind. This way you will not ever forget it in the exam.

  8. Hi,

    I find this article interesting, but I have a question for you : how would you suggest to adapt the study techniques for a medical student?

    My study space is really quiet and, according to your description, ideal for learning. I use summarizing, drawing, acronyms& everything mentioned in every good article I read. But what should I do when, a week before my exam, I find myself facing tons of acronyms that mix up in my head and hundreds of schemes? I highlight important info, I read from other sources, I take notes on class. I have a pretty good memory, still I can’t stop myself from thinking there’s something missing from my approach. I exercice daily, I sleep enough, I have a well-designed weekly schedule and I am careful with my eating habits. Oh, and I am not distracted when studying, giving 110%.

    Also, after tons and tons of anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, histology, microbiology et al, in less than 6 months I will forget more than 1/2 of the details, no matter how ~SMART~ I studied. And I think this is a problem for every med student.
    If you have any extra-advices, that would be great!
    Cheers,
    FutureDoctor 🙂

    • Hi Chloe, based on your description it seems that you are already avoiding 99% of the common mistakes students make. It is therefore really difficult to spot the causes for the problem.

      Regarding the first issue, autonyms mixing up in your head: what kind of a study approach do you use? It could be a problem of repetition, meaning that you studied the material a little while ago, without having repeated it constantly in order to get into your mind.

      But it could also be a lack of revision that causes the problem, meaning that you did not revise the subject shortly before an exam.

      I can only guess as I’m not a medicine student.

      Regarding the last problem, forgetting your study materials half a year later: I believe most students are facing this issue. If you really want to address the problem you’ll have to regularly revise the subjects that you plan on keeping in your mind. But this is something most students simply do not have the time to do.

  9. I like your article it is very interesting and useful. But I have a problem with finance subject, I don’t know how to study, because I think I have had negative impression about it from other student and that makes my brain blocking this subject!
    Could you help me, please?
    Thank you in advance

    • Try to open up the blockage. Try to forget the negative impression. Handle the finance subject just as you do do with math, practice a lot and do a lot of exercises. If necessary study the contents by heart, wherever necessary.

      However, in order to address your issue better I need more information from you.

      • i am just worry ,i donotknow to how to read ,i am worry when i am reading sometimes withoutmoving my lips ,aloud,withmoving lips ,,,,,i want ur help which one is suite to me to use from this skill plz i want one fro this technique to practise plz help me

  10. I forgot to add that my exam is on the next FIVE days!
    Maybe the problem that I don’t have the smart method to study this subject and others!
    So please help me!!

  11. I was studying constantly. When my instrotucter finishes such a topic, I was reading it. But now it’s a different case there’s a first hour exam!

    • If possible, try to repeat all the exercises that you have done in class. Also, try to find as many exercises as you can in practice them as best as you can. I don’t know what the contents of your subject are, you said it was finance, so I’m going to assume that it is basically based a lot on mathematical exercises. If this is the case, try to repeat the exercises until you understand them. This also helps you to get used to calculating such exercises.

  12. when i am studyor reading among my study time i start to say like is, ican i start by sound or without moving mylip or withmoving mylip but i couldnot decide one ,i dont what i am doning plz advise me

  13. i am new on this blog i need help in my studies i am looking for a way of studying books and calculating subjects like math and physics,way of getting A’s in my exams.i’m in secondary school.pls help me.

  14. Hello Steve, I appreciate the effort you have put in place to helping students like me find an effective way of study.

    I am a Survey and Geoinformatics student, and my course involves lots of calculation, but my problem is… I find it a lot easier to study and understand non calculative subjects like Literature, History and the likes (Subjects that have a story line).
    I find it hard to study subjects that involves lots of calculation like Maths and Physics. I tend to doze off sometimes during maths classes. Please what can I do to check this? How can I study maths and physics?
    Thanks in anticipation

    • Personally, I always recommend a note of exercise and practice when comes to math. Meaning that you will have to do as many exercises as you possibly can. Only by means of constant repetition you’ll get yourself properly prepare for the exam. At least that’s what works for me. I’m also not a mathematics and physics guy, so I can relate to your problem. But I think with a lot of repetition and exercises, you’ll improve your skills at solving the tasks you are confronted with.

  15. thank you very much for your responses, I’ll keep to your advice.

    I think what “EBENEZER” wants to know is how he can study books so that he gets good grades (A+).

    Also what “MIKE” is asking is to know whether or not to read aloud to himself. He is not sure if he is a visual or auditory type of learner.

    • Thanks a lot for pointing this out.
      I always prefer to ask a question when I don’t clearly understand a person’s question. Otherwise I run danger of giving a answer that is not relevant for the person.

  16. Please sir, I have 4 weeks left for my exams and I have gone through my text many times and I made summaries of them but the problem I have is that i do feel bad whenever am working with the past questions. This is because i do fail most of them and I expect to be ready for this exam by now as I am taking this exam the second time. Please help me, i really need to get A’s in this exam. I just need your advice on how I can make this happen. Thanks

    • If you’re doing bad with your past questions then there might be something wrong with the way you have studied. Perhaps you have only studied superficially, or addressed the wrong topics. Or you haven’t properly memorized the contents. Whatever it is, use the past questions to intensify your studies in these areas. If you didn’t know an answer, look it up in your study materials, white a summary about it and properly memorize it. That way you’ll eventually fill the gaps.

  17. Thanks for your advice, I am really grateful. I will try to do what you just said and i believe it will work out. I will get back to you after my exams. Thanks once again!

  18. Thanks for advice,I’m really glad
    but my problem is I want to study hard like 14-15 hours in a day.I made plans everything and I will do 5-6 days according to plan but after this my plan fails. What can I do pls help me!

  19. Hi sir,

    I’m glad I found your this blog and these articles. I’m in my 3rd year in Engineering and found the 3rd year was so hectic (many lectures, coursework and final year project). The heavy workload especially the project module has taken up almost 90% of my time (not including sleeping, eating etc.). This caused me to be left behind for my 3 other modules (literally do not know whats going on in those 3 modules), since I do not have time to revise for the 3 modules. I’m really concerned with the lack of time to catch up because the other 3 modules have quite a lot of chapters. Since I’ve got 3 weeks of winter break now, I’ve been trying to catch up as much as I could but I seems like I won’t be able to complete revising the 3 modules. When the term starts after new year, I suppose the hectic workload of the project will be resumed again. I’m quite worried not being able to handle all the other modules (aside project module) all at once when it’s near exam time, considering I only have 1 month spring break to prepare for exam. What should I do? I’m not as intelligent as my peers, and I need to work hard and study more, in order to get a satisfactory result. All this while in my previous years, I have ample time (no project module) to study each module consistently at my own pace. As for now, not having my own time to revise makes me nervous. Thanks in advance.

    • You’re confronted with a complex problem. I think it’s important to find out where you are losing time. Being busy and studying the whole day does not always mean one the studying effectively. For this reason, try to simplify your studying processes as much as possible. Only engage in work that is necessary. If something is not necessary, drop it. Many students engage in unnecessary extra work that does not provide an outcome. Always make sure that everything you do is done because it is required to get good grades. Similarly, I’ve seen so many of my fellow students read dozens of books each semester without accomplishing better grades. But again, helping over the Internet with your complex problem is quite difficult because I don’t really know where the exact problem lies.

      It may also be a good idea to ask your fellow students what they are doing differently. Are they studying this but specific areas more intensively? Find out this valuable information and adapt your study routine.

  20. Hi sir ,
    I am having a question that I am an eleventh class science student i don’t have enough time to do any extra curricular activities so how can I make my mind creative .

  21. Thank you sir, It was an inspiring article indeed.But when it comes to a subject like chemistry I feel damn hard to understand the equations part (especially organic concepts). Even in my last exam i was pretty confident in my preparation but at the exam hall I was completely collapsed with all the equations which made my grade low
    kindly suggest some preparation methods and a solution to my problem.

    • I think the first step is to do everything you can to somehow get the exam questions of the years before you. Or at least similar questions. Doing so helps you to better prepare yourself for the test. Similarly, when you already know that equations are a problem area for you, put a lot more focus on studying these equations. Whatever helps you to better memorize and better solve these equations is just fine.

  22. So if you want to study word subjects like Economic Management Science (EMS)…AND i found out that i am a visual learner…how do i study EMS while i am a visual learner?

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