Have you wondered why few students in your class are always ahead of you and get themselves in top positions? Is it because they are more intelligent or is it because they are more regular with their studies? While many factors play a role in how well you study and how much you score in your exams, there’s one thing for sure – Good study habits are the key to success.
Not many students see it this way, but studying in itself is a skill which needs to be learnt. Some students learn it intuitively, some students are guided well by their parents or their teachers, but most of them never learn the importance of reviewing their study process and forming good study habits.
Confused about what this means? Let us ask you a few simple questions.
Do you have a designated study corner in your home? Do you review everything that you learn during the day? Do you form your own notes in a format that you understand and find easy to memorize? Have you fixed a few hours to study everyday?
If your answer to most of these questions is no, then you know where exactly you are lacking.
But, why are good study habits so important?
Simply because these habits transform the way you study and help you retain what you learn and perform better in your exams. Your concentration, your time management, your confidence and your work ethic eventually improve and that reflects in your results.
Once you develop good study habits, they will help you not only in school or college but also in your job and any time in your life when you try to learn a new skill. Once you’ve good study habits, you stop being lazy and actually participate in the process of learning. They make you stand out and distinguish yourself in this time of intense competition.
So, how can you form these good study habits?
Before we dive deep into understanding the study habits and how they help you, let me tell you an interesting fact about forming habits.
Phillippa Lally, a health psychology researcher at University College London published a study on Habits that states – “On average, it takes more than 2 months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact. And how long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances.”
What this means is that you need to be very patient and committed with yourself while trying to form good study habits if you want to see any positive results.
In the next section of this article, we are going to talk about a lot of effective study habits. For anyone, it’s impossible to build all these habits at once. So, don’t get overwhelmed. Pick up a few study habits that you intuitively feel will work best for you and commit to sticking with them for at least 66 days! And before you even realise it, they’ll become a part of your study process.
Sounds great, right? So, come over and take away the good habits!
6 Good Study Habits to transform the way you learn
We emphasised on developing a habit because once you inculcate a habit, the follow-on process becomes much easier. A habit makes you do things instinctively by cutting short the cycle of action & reaction. However, forming habits is a constant process where you cannot take a break. Remember to keep a check on yourself so that you don’t fall back to your older patterns.
1. Always create a weekly study schedule and abide by it
Do you know what are the biggest reasons for not performing at your best potential during exams? It’s procrastination and poor attitude towards studying. And, what’s the fix? Simply planning out your study schedule for the entire week in advance. This isn’t just for the exams but also for your regular study days as well.
There are two simple steps to creating a weekly schedule.
First, you look at your entire week and block out the hours during which you will be studying. If you are just starting out, focus more on the first step. During these hours blocked for study, you must make a habit of sitting down on your desk and not getting up for any other task.
Once you start getting the hang of studying at those fixed hours, you can start planning what exactly you’ll be studying in those hours. This way, when you sit down to study at your desk, you’ll have no time to procrastinate and you’ll dive in straight to studying.
Pro tip – After one or two hours of study, our ability to concentrate starts declining rapidly. This is the time when you should take a short break or switch to a new subject. Also, observe which study hours work the best for you? And try to block more study hours during that time of the day.
2. Organize your other tasks around your study schedule
Now, if you try planning your week in advance, you might face problems in blocking hours for study. You might have chores, extra-curricular activities, events that might make it hard to visualise what your week will look like.
One common problem that students face is that they confuse between study time and homework time. So, even if they block study time for themselves, most of it goes in completing assignments.
So, here’s an important step – Make study your priority.
And, how do you do this? Not by neglecting all your other tasks but by making sure that they do not overlap with your study time. Pay proper attention to each task that is assigned to you or is expected from you from outdoor activities to assignments, homework to test everything and plan out a separate time for them. This will give you a complete idea about how much time you’ve left for self study every day.
In the rare cases when you’ve unexpected load of assignments or homework, you can accommodate them in your study time. But otherwise, you should maintain that time for understanding, learning and practicing new concepts.
Pro tip – Use a Calendar App to set reminders for your study time. You can also use planner apps like My Study Planner and myHomework, which can help you manage your study schedules. You can also print out a planner and put it on your desk.
3. Designate a proper study area
If you are a person who frequently changes his/her area of study, then you must stop it right now. As office work requires a separate room, similarly your studies also require a separate area where you’ll only carry out school or college work.
Here are a few things to check for in your study area.
Is the room quiet or do you hear distracting noises of other people talking? Does the room have enough lighting? Does your chair keep you in a good posture? Is your phone or any other possible distraction available in your study area?
Pro tip – If having study supplies like good stationery and a pin board inspire you to study better, invest in them to make your environment more conducive to study.
4. Approach the exam time strategically
If you don’t plan, you never gauge how much you need to study and how many hours you need to put in to complete the lessons. This results in rushing through the syllabus with little and no revision.
Remember the first habit of creating a weekly schedule that we talked about earlier? It becomes so much more important around exam time.
After you have blocked out your hours to study for your exam and have your syllabus in front of you, it’s time to dive deep into making the study plan.
Mark the specific topics of each subject that you’ll be studying each day. It also helps to mark the resource that you’ll be using. For instance, you could plan reading the entire chapter and practicing the basics on one day and then move on to specific questions and exercises of that chapter later.
For the subjects that require a lot of memorization, you could plan to revisit them every few days and make some notes to help you remember the information.
Pro tip – All your study planning should be done with one objective – having an ample amount of time to revise. The key difference between students who perform well in exams is that they spend the day before the exam revising the concepts rather than learning them.
5. Take proper rest at night
When you go to your best, take three long breaths and imagine releasing all the stress from your mind and mody. Whenever we are stressed, we take shorter breaths. Doing this exercise, calms us down and helps in sleeping better.
A lot of students face trouble in falling asleep at night. Having simple night rituals like turning off phone for at least half an hour before sleeping and going to bed at the same time every night will help you in sleeping better. Make sure you sleep at least 8 hours everyday as it will help you retain whatever you learn.
Pro tip – Remember that it’s risky to pull an all-nighter as our learning gets consolidated in our memory during the REM phase of sleep. Missing out on sleep can make you blank during exams. Forming good study habits is about forming long term strategies rather following shortcuts to score better. It’s important to take care of your mind and body.
6. Learn to overcome resistance to study
Do you know when good habits are formed? When we consciously decide to do something better than what we are used to doing.
Here’s how it works in studying. When you sit down to study, you feel like getting up for something or the other. Maybe you remember an urgent call that you had to make or maybe you just want to check the score of the match that’s on. Sooner or later, you give in to the desire and get up. Then, before you know it, you’ve wasted half the time you allocated to study.
Almost every student faces this problem. Sitting at your desk and actually studying the entire time is a task in itself. The mind and body is so used to distractions. So, how do you overcome this resistance to study and actually zone in?
The answer lies in changing your mindset.
Here’s a simple way to do that – Make a list of all the reasons you want to study well and just look at it every time you feel a strong resistance to study. When you succeed, reward yourself for sticking by the goal of studying for the fixed hours.
Pro tip – Study offline as much as possible and minimize the distractions within your reach to make the process of zoning in to study much easier. If you are unable to study because you are too anxious, then make a ‘worry list’ instead to vent out and unload your mind from the fears.
As students, it’s your responsibility to know exactly when a particular test or exam is scheduled. If you are well aware of the dates on which a particular exam will take place, then next you must make sure whether the following subject or topic is at your fingertips or not. If not, then you must develop a plan in which you allot yourself with ample time to practice that subject only.
Mark the important dates on a calendar or maybe you can write it on a page and paste it somewhere. Studying one night before an exam is not good for you, as you’ll end up reading through some guides rather than following the prescribed textbooks, which impart actual knowledge to you. Devising a study plan is one of the key aspects of securing good marks.
The idea behind these study habits is to help you create a process for yourself that works. Once you have a good study habits in place, other changes automatically follow.
For instance, to plan out your study schedule, you’ll try to remain aware about the syllabus. If you’ll know the syllabus properly, then it will be easy for you to decide which topic or subject requires more time and attention. You will also start developing interest in studying and will feel more encouraged to listen better in class. You’ll notice the topics that the teacher is emphasizing and mark them important from the context of exams.
These habits will fix your mindset as well. Your thoughts will change from “I can’t do it”, and “I’ve started late” to “I am studying well and I can perform well”. With the correct mindset, you will take charge of your studies and feel empowered to crack even the hardest exam.
Further, whenever you have doubts, you’ll feel encouraged to discuss it with your teachers and peers rather than holding them back. When you are at the top of your syllabus, then you’ll participate more actively in discussions and have more things to learn and share everyday. You might discover your strong points and start helping out other people in return for their help with specific topics in which you struggle.
Hopeful, these study habits would help you in a great deal in securing good marks and transform the way you approach studying.