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Get Organized: How to Develop Better Study Habits

Quit cramming and start using these tips for smart studying while you're in college.

By Ashley Henshaw | March 17, 2014

Photo: Thinkstock

Most college students are juggling at least four or five classes a semester. With all those deadlines, tests, papers and assignments, it’s easy to fall behind and put studying off until the last minute.

Want to improve your grades and feel less flustered on test days? Use the following easy steps to help you organize your cluttered schedule and get on the fast track to better study habits.

Stay active while you study. A lazy body makes a lazy mind. Take occasional breaks from your study sessions to get up, have a snack, get a drink and move around.

Step 1: Organize Your Schedule

Let’s be honest – you can’t study effectively if you don’t know when your tests and quizzes will be. Start off by making a calendar for your entire semester. Write down all the exam dates and assignment deadlines. Make it easy to read and highlight the big test days.

But don’t stop there. The trick to linking your organization skills with better study habits is to plan study sessions in advance. According to an article in Psychology Today, spacing out your studying is much more effective than cramming right before a test. You’ll remember the material better over both the long and short term when you study over a period of a few weeks than if you studied for just a few hours.

So how can you put this information into action? Easy – just carve out time in your schedule each week to review what you’ve covered in class. Pencil these sessions into your calendar and stick to them the same way you would a class schedule. Find useful calendars apps on your computer or your smart phone and set up automatic reminders for when you need to study.

Don’t leave out pre-exam reviews though. Make sure to set aside extra time in the days leading up to a big test so that you have time to prepare.

Step 2: Study Smarter

Having a calendar is convenient, but it won’t get you an A on the test. To do that, you have to start using better study habits. Here are a few of the best habits for more effective studying:

  • Stay active while you study. A lazy body makes a lazy mind. Take occasional breaks from your study sessions to get up, have a snack, get a drink and move around.
  • Designate one area in your home or dorm room as a study space. It’ll help get you into the right mindset, even when you don’t feel like studying.
  • Remember that repetition is key. Study in more short sessions rather than just a couple longer sessions.
  • Highlight important parts of the text you’re studying. (Just be careful not to defeat the purpose by being overzealous with your highlighter.)
  • Study with others. Talking about the material will help you understand it while also reinforcing the information in your mind.
  • Reward yourself after studying. It keeps you motivated to reach your study goals. Who wouldn’t want to study when there’s a deluxe pizza or an episode of your favorite show waiting at the end?

Smarter Studying: Quick Facts

  • As much as 80% of the material you learn in class is forgotten within 24 hours if you don’t review it. If your schedule allows, take time to rehash the material right after each class.
  • Figure out which type of learner you are and incorporate it into your study habits. For example, visual learners can use color in their notes, while auditory learners can read a text out loud.

People Who Read This Car Also Read:

7 Best Study Tips for College Students
3 Finals in 2 Days: Maximize Study Time
How to Remember What You Study for Finals
Finals: Balancing College Exams and Essays
Foods to Avoid During Finals

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