How Do I Study?: Answers to Your 7 Biggest Questions
“So, I tried to study for my test last week, but I still did horribly on it. Please help!”
“I try to focus, but the next thing I know, I’ve lost an hour to TikTok.”
“My parents are pressuring me to get better grades, but I just can’t get started.”
“The teachers tell us to ‘study’, but what does that mean?”
Questions similar to these land in my mailbox weekly. Students not sure how to start studying, which strategies to use, or how to focus. I completely get it. Most of us were never taught how to study in school, but are just expected to pick it up somewhere along the way. Spoiler alert: you don’t.
That’s where I come in. I have read the books, the blogs, and listened to the podcasts for you. I can help you figure out this thing we call studying. Know that you are not alone in this! Let’s answer some studying questions!
How Do I Study: Answers to your 7 Biggest Questions
Um, why do I need to study?
Because our brains weren’t built to remember all the things. Especially if we’ve only read them or heard them once. Studying moves information from short-term to long-term memory and helps to make connections between the information we already know and the new information we are learning.
The longer you’re in school, the more complicated the content becomes. So, while you may not have needed to study in middle school, you can’t get the same grades by high school or college. That’s completely normal. So, buckle up buttercup, and keep reading!
How do I get motivated?
If only there was a magic pill I could give you to get you motivated. Sadly, there is not. Motivation must come from within, grasshopper. That means you have to get yourself to do the work. Mom, dad, or your teacher can’t motivate you.
My best advice is to set some long-term and short-term academic goals. When your motivation is waning, think about how that assignment fits into those goals. That *should* get you back on track. If not, hit play on your Power Ballad playlist and push through. (Just me?)
What is the best way to study?
In a perfect world, I would be able to give you two or three strategies that work for each person in every class. I think you know where I’m going with this – we don’t live in a perfect world. (If we did, chocolate wouldn’t contain calories. Ahem.)
So, there are lots of methods and strategies out there. But they won’t work for everyone. Just like musical tastes, studying is super individual. Methods that work for me, may not work for you and vice versa.
Thus, you need to try out a bunch of strategies until you find ones that work for you most of the time.
Can I listen to music?
Yes, BUT with some important qualifiers.
How can I focus while studying?
If you’re having problems focusing, there are probably 2 things going on. 1. You’re studying in the wrong place for you. I get distracted by every sound around me and prefer to study in the quietest, loneliest place I can find. But other people get distracted by the silence and need to hear or see others around them to work. To each their own. If you’re not sure, try out different spaces and see in which ones you’re the most productive.
Here’s your second problem: your phone is on. Ugh, your phone is the biggest distraction around. If you’re at home, put your phone in another room. If your phone must be with you, put it in DND mode. (Please note, I didn’t say to put it on silent. Those notification vibrations will pull your attention each and every time.) Also, turn off any notifications on your laptop.
How long should I study?
Remember, how I mentioned that studying is super individualized earlier? There’s no one good answer to this question either. Some people just don’t need as long to study as others.
But thirty minutes the night before will NEVER cut it, friends. Here are some general time tips:
- Quiz: 15-20 minutes per day for 2-3 days
- Unit Test: 20-30 minutes per day for 7 days
- Mid-Term or Semester Exam: 20-30 minutes per day for at least 14 days
- Standardized exam (SAT, ACT, AP, IB, etc): 20-30 minutes per day for at least 30 days
I’ve studied in the past and it didn’t work. Now what?
How did you study? Which strategies did you use? Where did you study? How long did you study? These are all questions you need to think about when deciding how to move forward. These answers may show you where you can make changes that will improve your studying next time around.
I hope these tips will help you get started on your studying journey. Remember, that creating new habits will take time – you won’t become a studying rockstar overnight. But you can make positive changes right now!