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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!

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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


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