Efficient Studying

Peter Bui. 10/26/2021


Studying for hours for little results, cramming at the last minute the night before a test, or forgetting everything you just studied. These methods are deemed inefficient for obvious reasons, but what exactly is efficient studying? What form of studying helps recall the most information in a timely manner?

First of all, notes. Notes are an effective studying method because they help us learn both in school and out of school. Taking notes in class “forces you to pay attention and helps you focus in class”. It’s more efficient than solely listening to the teacher, regardless how much you focus. Notes constantly keep you active and learning. There are many different types of notes, each appealing to different people. The first is summarizing (typically in a notebook or on scratch paper). With this method, an individual would write down the key points they hear in a lecture and use it for studying purposes later on. This is efficient because it keeps the person engaged in the class, but excludes minor, “less important” details, which may or may not contribute to the subject overall. Another method can be flashcards. Flashcards are typically helpful for learning definitions, so their use is more restricted/limited than typical paper notes. They are still efficient, however, because one can study the material and quiz themselves with ease. Last but not least, Cornell notes. Cornell Notes are infamous for being assigned by teachers, and they serve their purpose incredibly well. This format is structured so that an individual takes notes by using bullet points to highlight important information, as well as summarization at the end of the notes. Some honorable mentions, though more uncommon, can be The Outline Method, the Mind Mapping Method, and more. Notes are meant for studying in a productive manner, so it’s important that the user feels comfortable and the method is helpful for them.

A study habit can be focusing on a specific topic. This study method is based on research and proves that putting all your focus into one subject or assignment can result in more effective studying. When multitasking (checking phones, studying multiple subjects at once, watching a show, etc.), the productivity of the student decreases to no more than 40% than without it. A way to avoid distractions and increase productivity is to remove anything that can serve as a distraction. A phone call from an unknown number, a spam Email, anything that can suddenly shift the attention from what is being done, should be removed or silenced. Another source/study proves that music is good for studying because it improves the mood, keeps the person alert, and increases endurance. However, another study shows that listening to music can serve as a distraction by making it more difficult to remember notes and diminishing the brain’s cognitive abilities. The changing words and tunes, as well as the changing songs and volumes can throw a person off their stream of study. A solution to this can be to listen to a type of music that maintains a consistent atmosphere and has little to no words. Lo-Fi (Low Fidelity) Music, a combination of jazz and other instrumentals, is proven to aid study. It also increases the amount of dopamine and serotonin and improves focus.

Last but not least, studying in groups can be an effective strategy. Research shows that studying in groups usually results in efficient study sessions. When students working together have a question, they can ask a peer in the study group and have access to help and tutoring, if needed. They can get an explanation for a question they have, or for something they don’t understand. It also pushes the students to be more committed and not fall behind the rest of the group. Discussing topics and communicating amongst each other results in productivity. Notes can be compared and different perspectives can be displayed. Skeptical feelings towards a subject can be changed, and naivety on a subject can turn to full understanding. Test anxiety and stress is reduced, and is a fun learning experience.

Remember, it’s always important to study smarter, not harder. Whatever method works best and is reflected in performance should be a to-do. If cramming helps, that works too. At most times, it’s important to do what’s comfortable to you and helps you do things better, especially studying.

Cover Photo: (Unsplash)

Peter Bui