It was always hard for me to sit down, study and actually remember what I had just been reading over for hours. I now know it was because I truly didn’t know how to actually study and that there is a method to do so. I’d say it took me until my first year of college and think to myself, “okay I need to sit down and think about everything wrong I am doing”. It is difficult to take advice on the matter especially because everyone has a different way of reading things, learning new subjects, and have their own way of remembering what you’re studying. If I could go back I wish I had someone tell me these things before so I could have learned how to manage and organize my time much better and done better in a few of my classes. So if you need help on how to study these tips may help you:

1. Start Early

If you have trouble studying or it feels like it’s harder for you to retain information than your classmates take it as a sign that you need more time to study than classmates do. Don’t compare yourself to others and don’t feel bad that you may need to study longer than they do! You will have much more confidence once you stop

2. Make A List

Organize yourself and make that to-do list before you even begin to study. It will ease you of all those hours panicking before your exams from not knowing where to start. Start with the easiest materials and finish with the hardest. You’ll feel so relieved knowing you have just gotten through more than half of all the material. Even though the last part maybe hardest having all that stress rid off will help you concentrate on the most difficult material.

3. Gather Any Notes, Guides or Material You Know is Crucial to Your Guide

If you’re given a study guide, if you’ve taken notes, or you’ve been told what exactly will be on the exam use that as your template for your study guide. Write out the topics on a blank sheet of paper so you can cross off as you create a study guide.

4. Skim Through Everything

Don’t start reading right away. Familiarize yourself with the materials and separate them into sections so you can congratulate yourself after getting trough with it.

5. Take Note of all the Concepts You Understand

If there are topics you understand and feel 100% confident you do not have to go back and read then take note of it so you don’t waste too much time on it when you begin to study. Note: If you’re studying a material that you already know you’ll probably become overwhelmed when you read it knowing there are so many other topics you still need to go over.

6. Relax and Get All The Distractions Out of the Way

If you need to watch that last episode of Master of None or Scandal go for it. If you want to stalk your instagram feed, do it now. If you need a 15 minute nap set your alarm to go off in 30 minutes. Get any distractions out of the way because your mind will be spinning & eager to procrastinate at any chance it gets.

7. Go Somewhere Where You Won’t Get Distracted

Starbucks is my second home. I practically live there. I just can’t study at home there are too many opportunities to get distracted. I think it is because I feel too comfortable and am prone to get sidetracked by my surroundings. If you have a library, coffee shop, or a quiet place to go and study nearby I recommend you go there. I cannot stress enough how much it helps to get out of your comfort zone and go somewhere where you can take your mind off everything around you and solely concentrate on what is in front of you.

8. Turn Off, Log Out, and Turn On The Tunes

If you have the will power of not looking at your phone or checking all the notification you’re receiving that don’t worry about it. I usually don’t get distracted but when I do I put everything away and on “do not disturb” so I don’t let myself be distracted. Classical music, film scores, and jazz are my favorite stations to listen to while I’m studying. It helps me concentrate, buzz out any distracting noises, and I know I won’t try to sing along in my head.

9. Go Through One Subject at a Time

If all the material is new and you are unsure of where to start. Go back to your to-do list and begin from there. Remember study the easiest material first.

10. If You Haven’t Already Read The Material Read it and Take Notes

As you read through each material take notes. Don’t just highlight the material. Underline, circle, grab a piece of paper and write page numbers, topics, definitions so you are actively reading and those topics will come to mind more easily when you are studying over all the material you have read.

11. Make A Thorough Study guide, Highlighting The Most Important/Difficult Topics

Go back to that template of topics you need to cover and begin your study guide. Be as detailed as possible. Write all the concepts you need to know and in order. Leave space between each section so you can go back write anything you’ve forgotten.

12. Don’t Re-read Everything You Have Already Read

You should try to avoid re-reading the entire chapter. Go back to your study guide and skim through the sections you don’t understand. See if you can spot anything you didn’t quite grasp and keep writing down on your study guide more examples. If the book doesn’t do a good job at explaining it go on google and see if you can find any websites that can explain it in simple terms and write it down on your guide.

13. Pen & Paper on Hand

If your mind is wandering off as you are going through your study guide, grab a piece of paper and start writing the words you’re having a hard time concentrating on. It always helps me when my mind is unfocused to write down everything so without knowing I am thinking about everything I am going over and it makes it easier the second time around.

14. Re-write, Re-Write, & Re-Write

Write the definitions down in your own words. If you want to remember something you should be able to explain to yourself. Find different ways of wording a particular topic that way it will make sense to you.

15. Make Notecards

It helps with memorizing. Trust me! I once had a psychology teacher who handed out note cards of the same concepts but worded it differently for each card. After a few times around I knew the material backwards and forward. I know do that every time I need to remember certain concepts that are very similar. I separate my notecards by concepts and in order but then mix them all up so I’m not just remembering all the concepts based on order.

16. It Is O.K to Multi-Task 

If I feel I cannot read anymore on a particular subject I close the book, window, folder, and I open another assignment I have to work on. It helps my mind re-focus. Since it is a completely different material your mind will start thinking again.

17. Find Tricks and Acronyms

This is pretty obvious and it can also be a little tricky but you should find your own creative ways to remember the toughest concepts.

18. Don’t Forget to Take a Break, Walk around, & Eat

Take a few 5-10 minute breaks as you study and eat something healthy, take a little walk or stretch. Don’t have an entire meal just a light snack. As you finish a section take a break, pull out your phone, and just relax for a bit.

19. Have a Study (text) Buddy

I consider studying more of a solitary task because I hate worrying about how the person next to me is studying and because it’s too distracting for me. I love being alone BUT I always like to have someone I can text for when I need help on something or just to get a different perspective on something in particular.

20. Stop, rest, repeat.

This list may seem a little overwhelming and so is studying so when you know you are drifting off, what you read is simply not making any sense, and you’ve had enough studying for the day, stop. It is a sign that your body it mentally drained and it needs to rest. There is nothing worse than being mentally overwhelmed because it makes it all much harder retain the information you’ve just read over. Don’t force yourself to keep reading or keep studying because by tomorrow morning you probably will not remember a thing. Sleep it off and continue tomorrow.


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  1. November 18, 2015 / 9:51 am

    Great tips! They are so true 🙂 But I think they are really important to be successful 🙂

    Best Michaela


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