How to Study Effectively in College
How to Study Effectively (Photo: CC BY luthercollege)

The amount of study required at college can seem overwhelming, particularly when studying for exams.

It's important to make the most of the study time you have available to you. By learning how to study effectively, you build good study habits and skills that can turn you into a more efficient student who can get work done faster.

Here are some tips for making your study time more effective so you can study smarter, not harder.

Have a Study Plan

Take time to plan out your school work.

Decide how much time you will set aside for study, what tasks you will complete in this time, and the order in which you will complete them.

When creating a study schedule, think about the times when you are most productive. If you find it easiest to study in the morning but have a hard time concentrating at night, schedule as much of your study time for the mornings as possible.

Once you have a study plan in place, exercise the self discipline required to stick to your schedule. It can become very difficult to stay on task with all the distractions that come with college.

Avoid Procrastinating during Study Time

Procrastination is the single biggest threat to productive and effective study time.

When you feel daunted by a task, try to break it into smaller, more manageable chunks and tackle those small chunks one at a time. Think less about what you need to do to complete a project and more about what you can do to get started on a project.

Another great strategy is to do the tasks that you enjoy the least first. If you leave them to the very end of your study session, it is simply too easy to put them off for another day.

Block Out All Distractions when Studying

During your study time you need to commit to making study your priority for that short period of time.

This means blocking out all physical and mental distractions.

Always study in an environment that you are comfortable in. You probably already know which sort of environment you are the most productive in so try to recreate that environment where you choose to study. If you have other thoughts on your mind, write them down on a piece of paper before you start studying so you can clear your head of them.

Take Regular Breaks when Studying

It might seem tempting to work for hours on end when the exams start drawing close but you are actually doing yourself a disservice. Retention of information is best when your mind is fresh, so take short breaks regularly and remove yourself from studying so you can come back refreshed and ready to absorb more information.

Know the Course Content

Be sure that you are studying the most relevant information. It is important to ask lots of questions of your lecturers and tutors to make sure that you are expending your energy wisely on the content that really matters.