1) According to research, study sessions are most effective in small, short chunks. Instead of cramming in a ten-hour study session, it’s much more effective to spread it out into twenty thirty-minutes sessions over a few weeks. This is because your brain is better at encoding information into synapses in short repeated sessions as opposed to one large one. And this is why learning different skills, whether it's swimming, tennis or a singing lesson often follows the same format.
2) Cramming and pulling all-nighters may be a ritual, but it turns out that this is linked to the lowest grades. After prolonged study sessions, reasoning and memory may be negatively affected for 4 whole days. Instead, setting up specific times in a day, or during the week, just to study primes your brain by creating a routine, and overtime studying actually becomes easier, as your brain is trained to learn in those moments.
3) While many of us spend hours passively re-reading our notes or highlighting a textbook, studies have shown this to be ineffective since it doesn't improve your understanding of topics, nor does it link key concepts together. It can even be detrimental, as it draws your attention to less important information. Flashcards, on the other hand, are proven to be excellent memory reinforcement tools.
4) It also helps to have a specific goal for each study session. Pick one aspect you're focused on whether it's balancing chemical equations or learning how to conjugate french verbs. If you can't explain it simply, then you don't understand it well enough.
5) In studies where individuals were asked to learn a passage, and then half were told they will be tested on the material while the other half were told they would have to teach it to other students, participants expected to teach it understood the main points much better. When you're expected to teach, your brain organizes the information in a more logical, coherent structure.
6) Of course, practice, practice, practice! Not only do practice tests put your brains in test environment, but even if you make mistakes, they help identify gaps in your knowledge. Practice test have also been shown to increase confidence, thereby leading to better performance.
7) So, where should you be studying? Research shows that having a designated, sacred spot for studying that is well-equipped with every tool you might need is best. Just like setting times, this primes your brain for studying.
8) Have an awesome study playlist? Not so fast… While some studies have shown that certain types of classical music can help improve concentration, a recent study has shown that learning with rhythmic background noise can be detrimental to focus, and those not using music fared much better.
9) And if you haven't already, put away your phone! This is a no brainer, your texts and social media notifications severely decrease concentration.