If you’ve ever wondered how to study more effectively in less time: this article is for you.
Learning is a personal journey and what works for one person may not work for another. Don’t get discouraged, as there is conflicting advice out there.
However, there are proven methods supported by trusted sources like university learning centers. To help you get started, we have gathered the best tips and advice. With determination, you can enhance your concentration and grasp information more efficiently.
How To Study More Effectively In Less Time:
1. Determine the study method that suits you best.
Everyone is different, and you can even take a quiz to find out your learning style. It’s crucial to know as it will impact how you study, learn, and take notes.
There are four main types of learning styles: visual, auditory, writing/reading, and kinesthetic. You don’t have to pick just one, you can blend them.
- Visual learners tend to understand material best by looking at pictures, like graphs, diagrams, and charts.
- Auditory learners absorb information best when they listen and recite it.
- Writing/reading learners learn best through material presented in slides and handouts.
- Kinesthetic learners prefer a hands-on approach, such as conducting experiments in science.
2. Divide the material into manageable parts.
Trying to comprehend everything about a subject at once will lead to feeling overwhelmed. Whether it’s reading a history chapter or learning to play an instrument, focus on one piece of information before proceeding to the next. When you have a good grasp of each piece, start piecing them together to form a complete understanding.
For instance, when reading a textbook chapter, begin by briefly skimming the entire chapter or just the headings to grasp the content. Then, carefully read each paragraph and pinpoint the crucial ideas.
3. Take notes while learning.
Doing so can enhance your understanding and absorption of the material. When listening to a lecture or being taught about a topic, jot down the essential points. If reading, write down crucial words, summarize significant ideas, and note any questions you have about the material.
Studies suggest that handwriting notes is more effective than typing them on a computer for most people. Writing by hand encourages you to focus on the important points rather than attempting to transcribe everything you hear or see. If you enjoy doodling while taking notes, go ahead. It could actually help you concentrate on the information being presented.
4. Summarize what you have just learned.
This is a good way to assess your knowledge and clarify your understanding. After studying something new, be it from a lecture or a book, take a moment to write a short paragraph or bullet points highlighting the main points.
You can also try summarizing the information by speaking it out loud. If you have a teacher, they can give you immediate feedback on your summary to help determine if you understand the concept correctly. For instance, you could ask, “So, the formula to find the area of a rectangle is length times width, correct?”
5. Make your study sessions short and frequent.
Rather than dedicating long hours to a single subject each day, divide your time into multiple 30-60 minute sessions over a few days or weeks. This reduces the risk of burnout and improves information retention.
Spacing out your study sessions can also reduce procrastination. By dedicating a small amount of time to a task or subject daily, it will feel less daunting in the long run and discourage you from postponing it.
6. Incorporate different learning methods.
People generally retain information better when they use a combination of techniques, or modes of learning. If possible, use multiple approaches that engage all your senses.
For instance, in a lecture-style course, you can take handwritten notes, listen to recorded lectures, read materials, and use visual aids such as graphs or illustrations. Also, practice what you have learned by actively applying the knowledge, like translating a short passage in ancient Greek when learning to read it.
7. Collaborate with others to enhance your learning.
Talking about what you’ve learned can bring new insights and reveal connections that may not be evident when studying alone. Ask questions of your teacher or classmates and also share your own thoughts and understanding of the subject. Solidifying your understanding by teaching it to others, such as friends, family, or classmates, is an effective way to identify areas for improvement.
8. Incorporate breaks into your study routine.
To avoid losing focus, split your study sessions into 25-minute increments with 5-minute breaks in between using the Pomodoro Technique. This method helps keep your mind sharp and enables you to concentrate more effectively.
When taking a break, steer away from your studies and take a few moments to meditate or visualize a peaceful scene. You can use an app like Pomodoro Time to manage your break and focus times.
9. Get a good night’s sleep.
Having a good amount of restful sleep can help you concentrate and stay alert while studying. Sleep also has a significant impact on learning and retaining information. Aim to get 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night (8-10 hours for teens).
To improve your sleep, try: Turning off screens that emit bright light at least 30 minutes before bed. Establishing a calming bedtime routine, like reading a book, listening to soothing music, or taking a warm bath. Creating a peaceful, dark, and comfortable sleeping environment. Avoiding caffeine and other stimulants 6 hours prior to bedtime.
10. Consume foods that support brain function.
A nutritious breakfast, such as eggs, oatmeal, and fruit, and snacks, such as blueberries, bananas, or salmon rich in omega-3, can help you concentrate and retain information better. Stay hydrated also, as sufficient water intake helps fight tiredness and maintain focus.
11. Pick a peaceful and relaxed study space.
Studying in a noisy or uncomfortable environment can reduce your focus and ability to absorb information. Everyone has different preferences for studying, so try different places to see what works best for you.
For instance, if you get easily distracted by noise, try studying in a quiet room at the library rather than at a busy coffee shop. Look for a place where you can study comfortably and have enough room to spread out, but not so relaxed that you fall asleep. Avoid studying in places like a couch or bed that might encourage sleep.
12. Keep distractions away.
It is common for people to get absorbed in social media, online games, and constant email checking while studying. To avoid this, turn off or put away your phone or other distracting devices. You can use productivity apps like BreakFree or Flipd (1) that restrict device usage during study hours.
Study in an environment without a TV to avoid distractions. If you struggle with staying focused while using a computer, try using a browser extension like StayFocusd to help keep you on track.
13. Reflect on what you have learned and identify gaps in your understanding.
This process, called metacognition, is a key aspect of effective learning. Ask yourself what you know and what you don’t know about the topic, and then focus your attention on filling in the gaps. Quizzing yourself and writing a summary of the material can help you evaluate your understanding and identify areas for improvement.
14. Discover your preferred learning style with the VARK test.
People usually use a mixture of methods to learn, but you may find that you work best as a visual, auditory, reading/writing, or kinetic learner. Once you identify which styles work for you, tailor your studying accordingly.
Visual learners benefit from visual aids such as maps, diagrams, and images. Auditory learners learn better from listening to lectures or verbal explanations, and also from speaking about what they’re learning. Reading/writing learners excel with reading material and taking notes on what they’re studying. Kinesthetic learners learn best by actively putting what they’re learning into practice, like speaking a new language instead of just reading about it.
15. Determine your best way of learning.
Like learning styles, learning strengths concentrate more on your individual abilities and areas of cleverness. Attempt to take a test like Strength Assessment (2) to determine your main strengths in intelligence. Then, modify your learning methods to align with these strengths.
For instance, if you have a high score in body movement intelligence, you may find that you recall and grasp information more effectively by going for a walk with a friend and discussing what you’re studying. As per the theory of multiple intelligences, the 8 principal categories of intelligence are Linguistic, Logical-mathematical, Spatial, Bodily-Kinesthetic, Musical, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, and Naturalist.
16. Engage in deep learning by asking questions.
Merely memorizing information isn’t enough for full comprehension. As you study, pause and ask questions about the material. Searching for answers will deepen your understanding.
For instance, if reading about a historical event, pose questions like “Why did it happen? What evidence is there for what happened? How would things have been different if it didn’t happen?” For new subjects (e.g. biology or law), consider creating a list of 25 significant questions that the field aims to answer. This can provide a solid base for your subject exploration.
17. Make connections between ideas.
When studying, try to see the topic as a network of related concepts rather than a collection of isolated facts. This will help you make sense of the information and place it in context.
As an example, if you’re studying physical anthropology and how bones reveal details about past societies, think about how your personal actions could affect what future researchers might find. For instance, would they notice wear on your elbow joints from playing tennis?
18. Don’t believe everything you come across.
When you’re learning, it’s important to be critical about the information you’re receiving. Think about where the information is coming from and how reliable it is. You can also ask yourself questions like:
- “What supports the author’s main claims?”
- “Is the information current?”
- “Where did the information come from?”
- “What are the credentials of the person presenting it? Do they have any hidden motives or biases?”
- “Are there other valid perspectives on this topic?”
19. Identify central ideas while studying.
When you study a course or just a single lesson, find a few significant themes and concepts. Doing this can help you clarify your thoughts and set your learning goals. For instance, if you are learning American history, you may see that the themes of American identity and diversity appear frequently. Think about how the information relates to these central themes.
Thank you for reading this article about how to study more effectively in less time and I really hope that you take action my advice.
I wish you good luck and I hope its contents have been a good help to you. +