Sometimes it seems that you have an insurmountable mountain of studying to do and just not enough time to do it.
Everyone has had that feeling at some point or another, but it’s rarely the case.
Studying is all about efficiency.
You might have 300 or 3,000 pages to study, but it’s always possible.
Some people give up and accept that they will fail the test, but the truly persistent ones, the ones that have learned simple tricks to the trade, are better off for it.
Not only do they make good grades on tests, they learn how to manage their time for when the real work comes along.
There are a few tricks you can use for whatever task that might fall in your lap.
Knowing how to learn teaches you how to utilize them efficiently.
Here are some helpful tips on how to optimize your study time!
5 Steps on How to Optimize Your Study Time
1. Prepare Beforehand
Many people think that prep work counts as studying, which it does, to a certain extent.
Taking notes, making flashcards, and catching up on lesson plans should be routine things you do before you start studying, though.
In an ideal world, you should have everything prepared for when you sit down and start reviewing information.
Sure, this is easier said than done, but if you get into the routine of making the necessary preparations, you will almost certainly be successful.
Take notes in class, review the day’s lessons when you get home, and prepare through the semester – not just right before the big test or exam.
2. Take Advantage of Downtime
The best students know how to take advantage of their study time.
Whether it is on the bus, on the way to class, or waiting at the dentist’s office, there is always a way to cram in a few minutes of studying.
Take your notes everywhere you go, even if it is just a flashcard or a PDF on your phone.
It will come in handy at some point.
By taking advantage of the time where you would typically be waiting or staring at the wall, you will need less time to cram.
And you will be more likely to retain the information, as it builds up in your long-term memory with repetitive studying.
3. Take Notes While Studying
You won’t retain much if you stare at a page all day long.
Even if you’re studying a 3,000 page textbook, take as many notes as you can.
Sure, it might take a little bit longer, but by taking notes of what you read, you are transferring the material you learn from your short-term memory to your long-term memory.
Research shows that people who take notes by hand are more likely to remember what they learned and do better on tests than those who type their notes.
Furthermore, it will take less time when you go to review information, as you will already have consolidated it on paper.
You won’t get far if you don’t sleep.
The stereotype of staying up all night to cram for that big exam works less often than people think.
While they are studying all night, they retain almost nothing, and some of the time, they might end up doing something counterproductive, like checking Facebook or Twitter.
Your brain cannot function without sleep, contrary to what many people think.
So, you’re more likely to remember what you learn if you get some sleep after learning than if you stayed up all night trying to commit everything to memory.
Furthermore, it only works at full capacity for around 45 minutes, so if you don’t take sufficient breaks, you might as well be studying for 70 percent of the time.
Take breaks, relax, and sleep a reasonable amount.
Regular breaks in between short but intense periods of studying actually help you consolidate what you learned better.
You will feel better during the test, and will likely be able to relay the information you learned more concisely.
5. Pay Attention to What You Eat
Many college students think they can get by on coffee and a bag of chips, but that simply does not do the trick.
Artificial sugar, fats, and salts are all connected to poorer memory and brain health, along with a bunch of other health issues.
A soda or some candy might give you a temporary sugar rush, but then leave you feeling sluggish afterward.
Fast foods, on the other hand, slow down your brain – you feel lazy and unproductive after a meal of deep-fried goodies.
On the other hand, certain foods like nuts, seeds, fresh greens, fatty, fish, etc. are all scientifically linked to a healthier brain and better cognitive functioning.
What you eat and drink is directly proportional to how you do on a test.
If you don’t eat, your attention span will be shorter, your brain will not work as well, and you will not do as well on a test.
Furthermore, if you don’t drink water, your brain will not work very efficiently, since a considerable portion of your brain consists of water and needs to stay hydrated to run smoothly.
Try taking some bottled water everywhere you go.
It will incentivize you to drink more, which will wake you up and make you feel better.
That mountain might be tough to climb, but it won’t be impossible.
Break it into step, take full advantage of your time, and remember, pulling an all-nighter probably will not work.
Many of the tips to help you optimize your study time are also tips that promote better learning, focus, and memory.
The more efficient your learning strategies, adjusted to suit your learning styles, the better you can optimize your study time!
Are you guilty of any of the time-inefficient things mentioned in this article?
And are you going to be trying out the tips set out here?
Let us know!
Patrick Rafferty is a consultant for Pure Water Technology of South Louisiana, a company that specializes in home water filtration systems.
[ Updated – October 5, 2020 ]