Top 10 Study Tips: These Can Help You Focus

Does your mind wander when studying? Do you have trouble figuring out what to study first? Do you wish you knew how to use your study time better?

We have a solution: Try these 10 study tips!

Greg Gross, coordinator of technology-enhanced learning at Richland College and formerly an instructional specialist at The Learning Center there, has come up with 10 tips for better study results:

  1. Start at the end: Read end-of-chapter summaries and glossaries first. When we encounter a word or concept that is unfamiliar, our minds tend to shut down. Summaries and glossaries give us a general understanding of the materials. Once you have a general understanding, you will be open to deeper learning as you meet the details of the subject.
  2. Study in chunks: Break your assignment into logical parts. Working with one part or learning objective at a time helps you understand the basics before moving on to the next step. Taking a break between sections allows you to begin again fresh and alert. Study in chunks and you won’t be as likely to be get overwhelmed.
  3. Space it out, don’t cram: All-nighters can be detrimental to your grades. You will learn more by studying a little every day. By studying every day, the material will stay in your long-term memory. If you cram, the material will reside only in your short-term memory. You can easily forget what you learned.
  4. Manage your time: Set a schedule and stick to it. Studying is only part of your busy life. Create a schedule of all your activities. Doing so will highlight the time available for studying. It also will heighten the importance of being committed to those hours. Allow for the unexpected. Be willing to drop low priority tasks. Don’t forget to allow time for eating, sleeping and relaxing (have fun).
  5. Prepare your space: Create a learning area full of resources while limiting distractions. Before you begin studying, make sure you have all the materials you need: books, pencils, calculators, a computer and a reliable Internet connection. The area should be well-lit and free from distractions. Your family should be respectful of a do-not-disturb policy during dedicated study time. Your home too busy? Public and school libraries have areas set aside for studying.
  6. Master the classroom: Want to know what to study? Be present and active in class. Being active simply means that you are paying attention and taking notes of classroom discussions. Mark any item you do not understand and ask for clarification later. Listen for signals for important topics in your professor’s lecture: “The most important point is …”, etc. A good set of notes allows you to focus on these specific items while studying.
  7. Study difficult subjects first: Difficult or boring subjects require the most creative energy. Studying your favorite courses last will refocus your interest in the study process and help regenerate energy.
  8. Collaborative learning: Become a study-group “groupie!” Everyone benefits when people bring unique experiences and expertise to the table. Warning: Keep the group to a manageable size and only invite members into the group who will add value to the process. No slackers!
  9. Reach for help, often: You are never alone in the learning process. Utilize all resources available! Build strong relationships with your instructors outside the classroom and reach out to them often. Be a regular visitor to your campus library and learning center. Meet your study groups in these areas so resources are at your fingertips if you have any questions during the study process.
  10. Pre-test self tests: Test yourself on the materials before your instructor has a chance to. Flash cards allow you to instantly check your understanding of the topic or term. End-of-chapter questions and practice exams from your instructor allow you to work through materials and identify areas you know and items you need to polish up on before the real exam or assessment.

Here’s a bonus tip: Learning centers or labs at each DCCCD college are great sources for tutoring, research or other help with schoolwork. Check them out today!

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