6 Creative Study Tips for College Students

Sometimes the same old study methods just don't cut it anymore. Try these six creative study tips to give your college work new life!

Everyone has a preferred study method: many like the quiet atmosphere of the library, while others need loud music to memorize notes accurately. But sometimes, even the most tried and true strategies lose their effectiveness—that’s when it’s time for a change. Here are six fun and creative studying ideas to make the process more enjoyable, increase your retention, and be a better student!

1. Draw each lesson

Some of us are more in tune with the right side of our brains (said to be the creative side). That strength comes in handy while studying, as you can use your artistic skills to help you learn more thoroughly, according to a 2017 study from the CBE: Life Sciences Education journal.

Example: To remember a historical event, try drawing what happened during the event. Set the scene and add the necessary characters. Use a color-coded system to help create associations in your mind: a blue shirt could indicate that someone is a government official.

This tactic works for a variety of subjects, even if you're not artistically inclined. A math equation could be transformed with doodles, and English language and grammar concepts could stick better with symbols. Use whatever method of imagery best commits the topic to long-term memory. 

Related: Video: Top Study Tips

2. Make the topic relatable

Many students struggle with topics that aren't relatable. After all, it's hard to care about a subject when you don't find it personally useful. So find a few different ways to tie your studies back to your life. Did you play baseball when you were younger? Try analyzing some sports analytics to understand statistics better. Are you involved in musical theater? Think of that dense Dickens novel as a play and act out dialogue as the characters.

Do your best to find a way to connect with the topic. When you’re personally invested and enjoying what you’re learning, you’ll remember and understand the subject more easily.

3. Avoid silent workspaces

A silent room can cause more issues than you might think. Our brains respond well to ambient noise (think the quiet chatter of your local coffeeshop). These sounds allow us to focus clearly on the task at hand without the often more distracting feeling of a room being too quiet. Of course, loud interruptions can draw you out of your study focus, but for the most part, try to avoid silence. Study in areas that aren't too noisy but instead provide subtle background noise.

Music can help here as well. An instrumental soundtrack might help you concentrate, or maybe rap  motivates you to get through your flashcards. Everyone has their preferences, so find what works best for you.

Related: Secrets to Successful Studying

4. Invent a game for your notes

To make studying more fun, invent a game! Get a group of friends together, pull out a board game, and turn it into a study tool. If you land on a particular square, you have to answer a question. If someone gets the answer wrong, they head to jail. You could even take a deck of flashcards and use them to play an educational version of Go Fish. 

Use your creativity to come up with something fun that can cover all your study materials—it’ll go a long way. What you end up with depends on the subject, but no matter what, it’s better than just staring at your textbook.

5. Create a study song

There's a reason we’re taught the ABCs to a catchy tune. Our brains memorize information more easily to music, no matter the subject. Weave this into your studies by thinking of a familiar melody and using it to learn that difficult scientific equation. And if you’re not much of a singer, poems work the same way.

If you have trouble, search online for songs or poems that already exist. Many writers have composed works about certain events. Take Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "Paul Revere's Ride," for example. How else would we remember what happened on April 18, 1775? Turn your material into something with a rhythm to it to remember your trickier bits of information clearly and accurately.

Related: 6 Miraculous Effects Music Can Have on Student Success

6. Transform your study space

Do you study at the same desk every day? Do you use the same books and stare out of the same window? Your study area should be comfortable and functional, but sometimes it can help to shake things up to get a fresh study vibe.

If you’re willing to change your location, try moving from your dorm to the library, or from the library to a coffeeshop. If you want to stay in your dorm, get a new chair or add some decor to the walls. If you’re renting an apartment off campus, you could even check your lease to see if you can paint your room another color!

It may not seem like it, but a dedicated study room plays a huge role in your success—and transforming your space can put you in the right mindset and encourage your brain to learn. Switch up your environment so you look forward to studying there.

Related: 5 Proven Ways to Learn Fast and Effectively

When it’s time to study, tap into your creative side by taking on the information from a new perspective or transforming your study environment. Whatever you choose, making studying fun and more involved will make it easier to learn any subject.

Looking for creative academic tips from students like you? Check out our YouTube channel!

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now


About Alyssa Abel

Alyssa Abel

Alyssa Abel is an education writer who helps students and teachers pursue their passions. Read more of her work on Syllabusy


Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
Yuhlani Patterson

Yuhlani Patterson

High School Student

CollegeXpress has helped me find so many scholarships that fit me. They match me to colleges I have specific interest in to make searching for colleges way easier and more efficient. CollegeXpress refers me to schools that have my major of interest and backup schools if I want to change my mind. CollegeXpress also gives out their own scholarships, so you have even more of a chance at gaining multiple scholarships. This website has helped me de-stress from the pressure of not being able to afford college, [of finding] what schools are right for me, and how to find easy access to scholarships that most people never knew existed.

Tinuola Dada

Tinuola Dada

$2,000 Community Service Scholarship Winner, 2015

I am very excited to be this year's recipient of the Multicultural Student Community Service Scholarship. This scholarship will bring me ever closer to my academic and professional goals. CollegeXpress has been an exceptional resource to me, and I recommend it to all rising seniors as they begin to navigate the college application process.

Damian Rangel

Damian Rangel

September 2021 Mini Scholarship Winner, High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress has helped me tackle college expenses, which will allow me to put more of my time and effort into my studies without the need of worrying as much about finances.

Caio Matos

Caio Matos

High School Class of 2022

Starting the college admissions process as an international student was daunting. Thankfully, CollegeXpress was the first website I used for that cause and it helped me so much, from knowing where to start to deciding what my next move would be. I'll take a gap year, but I’m certainly using the website again when applying for fall 2023.

Emilie Delgado

Emilie Delgado

$2,000 Community Service Scholarship Winner, 2013

CollegeXpress has tremendously helped me in my search for financial aid opportunities as I enter my college career. It is easy to navigate and quickly narrowed down scholarships that I could apply for. Being awarded the scholarship will greatly help me in my finances regarding books and tuition. Thank you for this opportunity. Without CollegeXpress, it would have been more difficult to apply. I would recommend this site to everyone!

College Matches

Colleges You May Be Interested In

University of Cincinnati

Cincinnati, OH

Angelo State University

San Angelo, TX

Whitman College

Walla Walla, WA