Home > Resources > Study Skills > Study Smart

Study Smart

Most college students pull all-nighters to complete major assignments or study for major exams. Cramming is not an effective way to prepare for classes and write papers. Students who cram for exams end up ill prepared, over tired, and over caffeinated. There is a huge difference between studying hard and studying smart. Studying hard is time consuming and stressful, whereas studying smart reduces stress, is efficient, and produces optimal results.

Give Yourself Time

Successful studying is completed increments of 45 minutes or less. After 45 minutes, students lose the ability to retain information. Therefore, avoiding procrastination is the key to stress free academic success. To avoid cramming, spread your studying over the course of the term. Review your notes after each lecture or reading assignment, periodically refreshing your memory when new material is being introduced. Make a conscious effort to dedicate 45 minutes a day to studying.

Remove Distractions

Effective studying is best done in a quiet and well-lit setting with ample space and few distractions. Unfortunately, the college lifestyle is not conducive to quiet spaces. You will have to learn how to study effectively in crowded libraries, student centers, or campus coffee shops. Always jump on the opportunity to study alone, or in a limited group setting. If not, implement a few rules to prevent yourself from being distracted.

Turn off your TV and turn your phone on silent in your 45 minute study increments to minimize outside distractions. Take a few minutes to write down distracting thoughts, and set them aside for later. Set up a rewards system for every portion of homework successfully completed within those 45 minutes. If necessary, block distracting websites on your computer until you have accomplished your work for the evening. Remember to take study breaks to collect your thoughts, check your phone, talk to friends, and grab a healthy snack before returning to work.

Take Care of Yourself

Skipping meals and losing sleep will reduce your comprehension level, and ability to produce solid work. It is important to put your health first, so you are in good condition to learn effectively. Using caffeine to stay awake will make your body exhausted and mind sluggish. Avoid excessive alcohol use. Be sure to work health foods into your grocery budget. Eating right helps your mind as much as your body. If you pair a good set of study skills with a healthy lifestyle, you will always be successful in the classroom.

Learn How You Learn

There are a number of different studying tricks to apply to different learning styles. For example, some students prefer flash cards, others like to make outlines, some use mnemonic devices, and others find it helpful to make connect themes between topics. Understand that learning styles are unique to every student, and what works for your peers may not work for you. Learn about different studying strategies online, from your peers, and your professors to find which method works best for you.

Latest College & Financial Aid News

Free College? Check Out These Tuition-Free Schools!

October 15, 2020

by Izzy Hall

At Scholarships.com, we help students find scholarships to pay for college tuition. But what if you didn’t have to pay tuition? There are a handful of schools in the U.S. that are tuition-free, meaning that while students may have to pay for room and board or meal plans, they do not have to pay tuition to attend the college. On the flip side, tuition-free schools may require students to work alongside their studies or, for military academies, to enlist upon graduation. [...]

Student Loan Borrowers See Benefits, Better Credit Scores Amid Pandemic

October 13, 2020

by Susan Dutca-Lovell

In the year of COVID-19, student loan borrowers have experienced much-needed and historic college financial relief via the CARES Act, including temporary loan forbearance and significant interest rate reductions, extended through the end of 2020. One of the most beneficial outcomes of the pause of student loan payments has been the improved credit ratings of borrowers. [...]

Check out Megan Thee Stallion’s New Scholarship!

October 9, 2020

by Izzy Hall

Rap artist Megan Thee Stallion has partnered with Amazon Music’s Rap Rotation to launch the “Don’t Stop” $10,000 scholarship. Megan Thee Stallion, who has had two #1 hits just this year, wants to honor all women who “don’t stop working hard” even through tough times to complete their education. The scholarship is open to all women of color around the world who are currently enrolled at an institution of higher education and are seeking an associates, bachelor’s or graduate degree in any discipline. Two winners will receive $10,000 each. A college student herself, Megan Thee Stallion is passionate about the “transformative power of education” and advocates on behalf of all women pursuing college degrees. [...]

Last Reviewed: October 2020