New Year, New Study Habits

If you're looking for a New Year resolution that will help get 2012 off to a great start, then it's a great time to consider new study habits. It's easy to lapse into bad habits that hurt grades, but with half of the school year remaining, it's the perfect time to start fresh and finish the year well. Here are five tips for effective studying.

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1. Build a Study Space

The first step in studying well is to create a study space that works for you. While there are different styles that work for different people, there are a few general tips to keep in mind. First, be certain your chosen space has good lighting and is free from unnecessary distractions, like the noise from a TV. Second, find a space with adequate room for all of your books; a desk or table that is too small will prevent you from keeping everything you need close at hand.

You should also avoid studying in bed. Your bed may seem comfortable and full of space for your books. But it's likely too comfortable to promote concentration and it may encourage you to take a nap.

2. Identify Your Learning Style

In order to make the most of your time, you should identify what type of learner you are. There are many online quizzes that help you determine if you're a visual, auditory, kinesthetic or multi-modal learner. Knowing this will help you to study in a way that's conducive to your inherent strengths.

For example, a kinesthetic learner retains information best by actively participating in something, rather than passively listening, reading or watching. If this is your learning style, then you may study best while using flash cards, transcribing your notes or working with a partner.

3.Use a Schedule

Before you begin working on your homework, analyze what needs to be done for each class and ask yourself a series of questions. Which assignment needs to be completed by tomorrow and which has a longer deadline? Which project will take the longest to complete? Which work requires the deepest concentration and therefore should be completed when your mind is sharpest?

By answering these questions, you can create a schedule for how you'll complete your work. This can help you avoid getting bogged down in one task and risk not getting to everything completed in a timely manner. It's also important to try to fit in all of your work before your usual bedtime. It can be difficult to concentrate when your body wants to sleep and you'll likely sacrifice your ability to retain the material.

4. Find a Partner or Group

You don't need to study alone to study effectively. You may find that working with a classmate or forming a study group helps you to become more engaged with the material. This can be especially true in a class in which you're struggling. You can draw upon the wisdom of the group and support each other in completing an assignment.

5. Don't Forget Breaks and Rewards

While it may seem counterintuitive, breaks are an essential component of effective studying. Your brain needs time to digest the information you're taking in, just as your body needs a break after an intense workout. You can schedule breaks, using reminder alarms on your computer or phone. You can also take breaks following specific tasks. Either way, use breaks as an opportunity to stand up, walk around and clear your mind.

Rewards are also critical. While a break may be a reward that motivates you to complete an assignment, there are many other ways to reward yourself. For example, you may reward yourself for completing your homework immediately after school by watching TV or playing video games afterwards. Rewards can be highly motivational, especially when you use rewards that you find particularly enticing.

Did you find this useful? If so, please let others know!

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