Featured Image

So You Think You Can Study?

Unfortunately, studying isn't as simple as sitting down with a few books and magically absorbing their contents. It takes focus and discipline. Read on for some tips to help you master the fine art of studying.

Yep, here comes that dreaded word: studying. For most students, it rarely comes easily or effectively. Typically procrastination and an overall lack of motivation prevent us from taking those key steps toward making the grade.

Regardless of how badly you wish to score an A on an upcoming exam, it can be challenging to discipline yourself and commit to a solid study schedule when procrastination is your biggest enemy. Often times, even once you find the motivation to finally sit down and crack open that textbook, your study habits can be far from productive . . . which certainly doesn’t benefit anyone!

Does anybody know how to study?
Via giphy.com

The key to studying is more than just tackling procrastination and generating motivation. It’s about studying in a way that actually makes a difference in what you learn and how you retain it.

So, do you think you know how to study effectively? Consider some of the following ideas in order to further improve the impact of your study habits.

Create a study space

Find a spacious and organized desk area that’s clear of clutter and other distractions. Keep go-to materials close by, such as sticky notes, highlighters, and erasers. By designating a specific area just for work, your brain can quickly shift into study mode once you sit down. Ultimately, a space designed exclusively for studying will not only improve your focus but also help your brain recognize when it’s time to sit down and really work.

Gather materials beforehand

Before sitting down to study, double check that you have everything you need. Aside from required textbooks and other various reading materials, remember to bring extra writing utensils like markers and highlighters for note taking. Always have a blank sheet of paper nearby to jot down important content, new material, or concepts you may have forgotten. Having everything laid out beforehand helps prevent distractions from popping up once you actually start studying.

Take notes as you read

Just simply reading through new content won’t leave a lasting impact. To ensure you fully comprehend your readings, take notes on everything: things you know, things you don’t know, things that are interesting to you, or things you think may show up on a test. By doing so, you aren’t just scanning pages with meaningless words—you’re actively working to grasp and retain the concepts found throughout your readings. Also, rewriting notes, particularly in your own words, makes it easier to memorize for the future.

Shut off all electronics and other distractions

In order to improve your overall focus and quality of studying, make sure to shut off your phone, computer, and TV. Keep them at a distance so you won’t be tempted to check any text messages or social media updates. If you plan on listening to music, pick a calming playlist designed specifically for studying. Typically, classical music or music without any words is best when you really need to focus. As far as other distractions go, try to be somewhere quiet where you know other people won’t disrupt you.

Prepare a snack

Hunger can be a big enough distraction itself. You’ll hardly be able to focus on what you need to while your stomach is growling away! Keeping a healthy snack nearby can also help give you the energy you need to tackle big assignments. Munching on anything from apples and peanut butter to carrots and hummus is a surefire way to keep you motivated and sated as you study.

Stay hydrated

Keeping a full water bottle nearby will help prevent that sluggish feeling that starts to come around after a little too much studying. Not only is staying hydrated healthy for your overall well-being, it is also a great way to feel refreshed while you study.

Get creative

If possible, find ways to make studying all the more exciting. Create colorful and vibrant notes, make up songs to memorize vocab, or draw pictures to help you remember key concepts. You can also color-code your flashcards, use bright sticky notes, or even look into making a mind map, Try to use your imagination in any way you can in order to switch up your traditional habits and take some of the everyday dullness out of studying.

Take breaks

While studying, it’s important to make sure you aren’t overworking yourself. The more you push yourself past your limits, the more likely you’ll end up zoning out on everything you’re supposed to be studying altogether. Pulling an all-nighter while cramming for a big test the next day might seem like a good idea at first, but it’s more than likely not. Giving yourself ample time to relax for several minutes between bouts of studying helps your mind feel refreshed once you dive back into that textbook. Stepping away from the material for just a few minutes so you can walk around, go outside, or, yes, even check your phone, will make studying just a little less daunting and all the more effective in the long run.

Taking small steps toward a better studying experience may not seem like much at first, but even the tiniest improvements are certain to make an impact in the long run. Just take some of these ideas into consideration and watch your focus and motivation benefit along with your grades!

Have any other good study tips? Tell us on Twitter!

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

student health student stress study tips taking notes test prep test prep tips

About Toni Velazquez

Toni Velazquez is a high school junior from the Sunshine State. Aside from writing, she enjoys spending time with friends and sitting through her fair share of enduring Netflix marathons. She considers herself a headstrong and determined perfectionist who absolutely loves helping others in any way she can.


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
CollegeXpress Logo


Are you our next winner?

Register now for our scholarship giveaway

Farrah Macci

Farrah Macci

High School Class of 2016

CollegeXpress has helped me in many ways. For one, online searches are more organized and refined by filtering scholarships through by my personal and academic interests. Due to this, it has made searching for colleges and scholarships significantly less stressful. As a student, life can already get stressful pretty quickly. For me, it’s been helpful to utilize CollegeXpress since it keeps all of my searches and likes together, so I don’t have to branch out on multiple websites just to explore scholarship options.

Jada Bohanon

Jada Bohanon

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress has helped me find scholarships for the colleges I applied to. It was very hard for me to find scholarships in the beginning that I was qualified for. My teachers recommended this website to find some, and not only did I find some scholarships but I also got to look into some schools I hadn’t heard of before. I was very happy to have discovered this website, especially with the coronavirus spreading all over as I can’t really go visit many colleges.

Kyla McClain

Kyla McClain

High School Class of 2024

I found CollegeXpress when you partnered with Bold.org for a scholarship. I found your website, put my information in, and got connected. I only wanted to stay in North Carolina [for college] and not move far from home, but you all opened a door up for me. I started researching colleges you suggested for me. On your social media platforms, you also give really good test-taking tips that I used and suggested others to do the same. It helped me a lot on my exams, so thank you.

Courtney Smith

Courtney Smith

High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress has been a huge help! The website is very organized with finding the right scholarship for anyone and anything. With CollegeXpress, I've been able to find many scholarship opportunities to apply for. Not only that, I'm also able to search for the colleges I have interest in and see what’s required and what scholarships they offer. I've learned a lot from CollegeXpress. They've helped me in many ways to achieve my goals!

Bri'Yana Brown-Dunn

Bri'Yana Brown-Dunn

High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress helped me gain interest in many colleges/universities and many scholarships. I would say the most helpful thing CollegeXpress has done for me is sending me emails that tell me certain types of colleges are interested in me as well as emails about scholarships that I can look at and possibly apply for.

College Matches