Looking for the best effective study techniques to ace your tests without spending hours of your life trying to study?! These easy tips will teach you exactly how to study smarter for school.
After spending wayyyy too much wasted time staring at papers trying to study, I’ve figured out some of the best tips and tricks to reduce my study time and still get better grades in school. While these study techniques take some effort and practice, they are well worth it in the end.
Whether you are looking for some faster ways to study or are desperate for something to help boost your grade, I’ve got you covered!
This post is all about how to study smarter!
List of Study Methods
Learning how to study smarter for exams and how to study effectively at home doesn’t have to seem impossible if you have some go-to study methods! Depending on the subject and content, some of these methods may work better or worse.
Test out what works and what doesn’t and adapt your study plans for the future!
1. pomodoro method
I have probably talked about this study technique in at least three other articles and that is how important I think it is!
25 minutes studying.
5 minute rest.
It’s as easy as that! 25 minutes on and 5 minutes off. While you can absolutely adjust these numbers to whatever works best for you, I find these increments are the perfect amount of time. I am able to get enough work done in the 25 minutes without getting burnt out.
One important thing to remember: always take the 5 minute break.
Even if you are on a roll and feel like you can keep going, it is so important to take a break and give your mind a few minutes to rest before going into another 25 minute period.
2. teach it to yourself in the mirror
This is by far my most used study method when I am trying to prepare for exams. Whether you want to teach yourself the lesson in the mirror or teach it to a stuffed animal, anything works! Just say it all out loud as if you are teaching a class.
You’d be surprised how much better you are able to understand things by explaining them to yourself out loud.
3. write it all down
Another effective study technique to study smarter is to write everything down.
This is using the brain dump method. Literally write down every single fact you know about the topic on a piece of paper. It doesn’t have to be organized or make sense, just get down as much as possible.
Then, take some time to sift through it and organize all of the information into a coherent study guide. Not only did you study while making the study guide, but now you have the perfect resource to use for whatever other studying you need to do.
These study guides are also extremely helpful when it comes time for finals or cumulative tests. For exams like those where there is significantly more content, it is so much easier to have a few condensed study guides than dozens of pages of notes to study from.
4. record and listen back
If you are allowed, try recording your classes/lectures and listen back to them later.
While listening, make a study guide of all of the information from the lesson. Just like from the previous study method, you can use this study guide as a resource for this test, as well as future exams.
5. ask questions with a classmate
This is probably my second most used system. After reading through your notes and doing some initial studying by yourself, ask questions back and forth with another classmate.
Take as long as you need until you get through all of the content. Just go back and forth asking and answering questions.
This method is so helpful because instead of just looking at/reading/organizing the information and notes you already have, this takes that info and puts it into question form, which is the format of an exam.
Effective Study Techniques
In addition to those five different study methods, here are TEN more effective study techniques to use in conjunction to help you study smarter, not harder!
6. make a study schedule
I cannot stress this enough: you CANNOT study everything in one sitting. It is just not feasible and not beneficial.
It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but make a study schedule for when you have larger exams coming up. For smaller stuff, it is fine to just study the night or two before.
BUT, when you have a big test or project, make a plan of when you are going to work, how long you are going to work, and what specifically you are going to work on.
Not only does this hold you accountable, but it keeps you on track so you always know what you are doing.
7. test yourself again and again
For most cases, it’s not enough to just look at your notes once and know the information. Whichever study method works best for you, do it multiple times to really drill the information into your head.
For example, if you are teaching yourself the information in the mirror, don’t just do it once! Repeat the content to yourself over and over again until you can recite it in your sleep.
If that sounds too repetitive for you, try combining multiple study methods instead of repeating one. Using the previous example, maybe you can teach it to yourself in the mirror one day and then write out all the information the next.
This way, it’s not quite so repetitive, but you are also testing yourself multiple times.
8. recognize when it’s your peak times
This is commonly over-looked, but extremely important when it comes to doing anything productive in your life.
Everyone is different and everyone works differently. That being said, understand when you work best so you can use it to your full advantage.
Whether it may be the morning, night, or anytime in between, recognize your “peak times” and plan your studying for then. This is one of the best ways to study smarter, because your brain is the most alert at these times.
9. learn from your past mistakes
Use whatever past resources you have to your advantage!
Old tests, quizzes, projects, notes, whatever you have. If it relates to the information you are trying to study, use it to help you.
Look over all your past assignments from the lesson and look over whatever you got wrong. More than this, make sure you understand what went wrong and what to fix for the future.
Who knows, you may end up seeing the same question again, or at least a similar one.
10. use multiple study methods from the list of study techniques
Like I said earlier, if you truly want to make sure you know the information backwards and forwards, use multiple methods to study.
Maybe by teaching it to yourself you better understand certain concepts. Then writing it all out helps you memorize other concepts. And asking questions with a friend helps reinforce all of this.
The five methods aren’t meant to be used on their own, but with one another.
11. brain dump before and during a study session
Before you start studying, take a journal, a piece of paper, or your phone and write everything that is on your mind. Whether it’s school, friends, food, life: whatever is stressing you out or on your mind, jot it down.
While doing that, metaphorically release these thoughts from your mind and put them on the paper instead. Do this as needed throughout your studying if/when you think of anything unrelated to the subject.
While studying, you are going to be ten times more focused on the work that is right in front of you, instead of the million other things going on in your brain.
At the end of your study time, you can reread your brain dump to make sure you don’t forget anything you were thinking of (if it’s important).
12. understand, not memorize
For certain types of exams or content, memorization is all you need. However, when possibly, aim to understand the information instead of just knowing it.
13. remember to rest!
As much as you need to study, you also need to rest. Take breaks during your study time and give your mind a rest once in a while.
You are not going to work as productively if you are not giving yourself a break every so often.
Try reading a book, watching TV, or journaling during your rest time!
14. reward yourself
Studying is not easy. And disciplining yourself to actually do it is even harder. With that in mind, reward yourself for all your hard work.
This doesn’t have to break the bank. Something small like candy, a walk outside, or some phone time is a perfect, easy reward to motivate you to get your work done.
15. sleep, exercise, and eat well
As a general tip, remember that your performance in school and while studying is affected by everything you do in your life. Get a full night of sleep, exercise regularly, and eat well; all of this will help improve your work.
This post was all about how to study smarter, not harder!