If you have 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 one more. Don’t be discouraged, because there’s conflicting advice out there.
However, there are proven methods supported by trusted sources such as university learning centers. To help you get started, we have rounded up the best tips and advice. With willpower, you can improve your concentration and capture information more efficiently.
How To Study More Effectively In Less Time:
1. Determine the study method that works best for you.
Everyone is different, and you can even take a quiz to find out your learning style. It’s very important to know because it will affect the way you study, learn, and take notes.
There are four main types of learning styles: visual, auditory, writing/reading, and kinesthetic. You haven’t got to choose just one, you can combine them.
- Visual learners tend to understand material best by looking at pictures, such as graphs, diagrams, and charts.
- Auditory learners absorb information best when they hear and recite it.
- Writing/reading students learn best through the material presented in slides and handouts.
- Kinesthetic students prefer hands-on approaches, such as doing experiments in science.
2. Divide the material into manageable parts.
Trying to understand everything about the subject without delay will lead to feelings of being overwhelmed. Whether it is reading a history chapter or learning to play an instrument, focus on one piece of information before moving on to the next. When you have a good understanding of every part, start putting them together to form a coherent understanding.
For example, when reading a textbook chapter, start by skimming the whole chapter or simply the title to get a sense of its content. Then, read each paragraph carefully and determine the main ideas.
3. Take notes while studying.
Doing so can improve understanding and absorption of the material. When listening to a lecture or being lectured on a subject, jot down key points. If reading, write down the key words, summarize the main ideas, and record any questions you have about the material.
Studies show that handwritten notes are more effective than typing them on a computer for most people. Writing by hand encourages you to focus on key points rather than trying to write down everything you hear or see. If you enjoy doodling while taking notes, then continue. This can in fact help you think about the information being presented.
4. Summarize what you just learned.
This is a great way to assess your knowledge and clarify your understanding. After learning something new, whether from a lecture or a book, take a moment to write short paragraphs or bullet points highlighting the key points.
You can even try summarizing information by speaking it out loud. If you have a teacher, they can provide you with immediate feedback on your summary to help determine if you understand concepts correctly. For example, you might ask, “So the formula for finding the area of a rectangle is length times width, right?”
5. Keep your study sessions short and frequent.
Rather than dedicating hours to one subject each day, divide your time into sessions of 30-60 minutes over several days or weeks. This reduces the risk of burnout and improves information retention.
Scheduling your study sessions can even reduce procrastination. By dedicating a little time to a task or subject each day, it will feel less daunting in the long run and discourage you from putting it off.
6. Combining different learning methods.
People typically retain information better when they use a combination of techniques, or learning modes. If possible, use multiple approaches that engage all your senses.
For example, in a lecture-style course, you might take handwritten notes, listen to recorded lectures, read materials, and use visual aids such as charts or illustrations. Also, put what you have learned into practice by actively applying knowledge, such as translating a brief passage in historical Greek while learning to read it.
7. Collaborate with others to enhance your learning.
Talking about what you have learned can provide new insights and uncover connections that might not be apparent when studying alone. Ask your teacher or classmates questions and also share your own thoughts and understandings on the subject. Consolidating your understanding by teaching it to others, such as friends, family, or classmates, is an effective way to identify areas for improvement.
8. Work breaks into your study routine.
To avoid losing focus, divide your study sessions into 25 minutes with 5 minutes in between using the Pomodoro Technique. This method helps keep your mind sharp and lets you concentrate more effectively.
During breaks, step 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 time your rest and focus.
9. Sleep well.
Getting enough restful sleep can help you concentrate and stay alert while studying. Sleep also has a significant impact on learning and data retention. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night (8-10 hours for teens).
To improve your sleep, try: Turning off screens that emit bright lights at least 30 minutes before going to bed. Establish a calming bedtime routine, such as reading a book, listening to relaxing music, or taking a warm bath. Creates a peaceful, dark and comfy sleeping environment. Avoid caffeine and other stimulants 6 hours before bedtime.
10. Consumption of foods that support brain function.
A nutritious breakfast, such as eggs, oatmeal, and fruit, and a snack, such as blueberries, bananas, or salmon that are rich in omega-3s, can help you concentrate and retain information better. Stay hydrated too, as enough water intake helps fight fatigue and maintain focus.
11. Choose a study space that’s peaceful and relaxing.
Studying in a loud or uncomfortable environment can reduce your focus and talent to absorb information. Everyone has different preferences for studying, so try different places to see what works best for you.
For example, if you’re easily distracted by noise, try studying in a quiet room at the library rather than a busy coffee shop. Find a place where you can study comfortably and have enough space to spread out, but not so relaxed that you drift off to sleep. Avoid studying in places such as sofas or beds that may induce sleep.
12. Keep distractions away.
It is common for people to be preoccupied with social media, online games and checking e-mail continually while studying. To avoid this, turn off or remove your cellular phone or other distracting devices. You can use a productivity app like BreakFree or Flipd (1) which limits the use of the device during study hours.
Study in a TV-free environment to avoid distractions. If you are having trouble staying focused while using your computer, try using a browser extension like StayFocusd to help keep you on course.
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 do not know about the subject, then focus your attention on filling in the blanks. Asking 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 generally use a mixture of methods to learn, but you may find that you work best as a visible, auditory, reading/writing, or kinetic learner. Once you have identified which style is right for you, adapt your learning accordingly.
Visual learners benefit from visual aids such as maps, charts, and pictures. Auditory learners learn best from listening to lectures or verbal explanations, and also from talking about what they’re learning. Reading/writing students excel with reading material and taking notes on what they learn. Kinesthetic learners learn best by actively practicing what they learn, such as speaking a new language rather than just reading about it.
15. Determine your best way of studying.
Like learning styles, learning strengths concentrate more on your individual abilities and areas of experience. Try taking tests such as the Strength Assessment (2) to determine your main strength in intelligence. Then, modify your learning methods to align with those strengths.
For example, if you score high in gesture intelligence, you may find that you remember and capture information more effectively by going for a walk with a friend and discussing what you learn. According to the theory of multiple intelligences, the 8 main categories of intelligence are Linguistic, Logical-mathematical, Spatial, Body-Kinesthetic, Musical, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, and Naturalist.
16. Engage in deep learning by asking questions.
Just memorizing information is not enough for full understanding. As you study, pause and ask questions about the material. Searching for answers will deepen your understanding.
For example, if reading a couple of historical event, ask questions like “Why did that happen? What evidence is there for what happened? How would things have been different if that had not happened?” For a new subject (such as biology or law), consider making a list of 25 important questions the field wants answered. This can provide a solid foundation for your subject exploration.
17. Make connections between ideas.
When studying, try to view topics as networks of related concepts rather than isolated collections of facts. This will help you understand the information and put it in context.
For example, if you are studying physical anthropology and how bones reveal details about past societies, consider how your personal actions might influence what future researchers might find. For example, would they notice the wear and tear on your elbow joint from playing tennis?
18. Don’t believe everything you come across.
As you study, it’s important to be critical of the information you receive. Think about where the information came from and how reliable it’s. You can even ask yourself questions like:
- “What supports the author’s main claim?”
- “Is the information up to date?”
- “Where did that information come from?”
- “What are the credentials of the person presenting it? Do they have ulterior motives or biases?”
- “Are there any other valid perspectives on this topic?”
19. Identify the central idea while studying.
As you study a course or simply one lesson, uncover several important themes and ideas. Doing this can help you clarify your thinking and set your learning goals. For example, if you study American history, you may notice that themes of American identity and variety come up repeatedly. Think about how the information relates to this central theme.
Thank you for reading this article on how to study more effectively in less time and I actually hope you take my advice into action.
I wish you good luck and that I hope that its content has been a good help to you. +