How to Not Hate Studying
Although teachers nationwide are attempting to cut back on the whole homework thing, that doesn’t make studying for hours on end long after the school bell rings any easier. Thing is, you don’t have to hate learning—which is basically the same thing as studying. It’s all about finding the strategy that’s best for you. Not to sound like a motivational self-help book, but changing the way you think about hitting the books will change your GPA and your attitude (both for the better, obvs). Here's how to do it.
Team up with a friend or two
Friends make everything better, and studying is no exception. If you’re gearing up for the same exam, tag-team study guides and quiz each other when you have a good handle on the material. But you don’t have to be studying the same stuff to hit the library together. Just having someone around will keep you motivated, in a we’re-in-this-together kind of way.
Teach yourself the same material in different ways
Reading an academic textbook over and over again isn’t going to make you learn something; it’s just going to make you bored. Which is unfair, because a lot of the stuff in your textbook is actually super interesting. So mix it up! Break up the material into an outline; read a passage out loud, or jot down the most important notes from your laptop into a notebook. There’s even a whole method called the Leitner System, which is widely considered the most effective way to remember facts with flashcards. Keeping your options open while studying is an A+ way to do it.
Take breaks—and take it easy on yourself
The hardest part about studying is mentally preparing yourself to actually do it. And tempting as it can be to put everything off until the last minute—procrastination is so real—science says that “interval studying” is the most effective way to absorb information, whether that’s the periodic table or The Iliad. Your brain’s a muscle, after all, which means it needs time to recover after you work it out. Experts agree that studying in one-hour blocks is the best bet, with 10-minute breaks in between. And, while it’s tempting to grab your phone and text your friends during breaks, scientists recommend doing jumping jacks, hitting a yoga class, or taking a quick walk to counteract all the sitting (which isn’t exactly good for you). But the most important thing? Pat yourself on the back every now and then. Not only is mindfulness a legit way to make studying more effective, it’ll help you stay sane all the way through exams.
If you’re stumped on something, do some research beyond what’s in your textbook. Most teachers aren’t cool with Wikipedia references in term papers, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use the massive site—and other online resources, like the all-knowing Google—to help you understand complicated subjects. There’s also a bunch of super smart new apps that’ll make you smarter, too. For instance, Socratic understands your homework question from a photo, then explains the concepts you need to know in order to answer it, and Whink makes productivity infinitely simpler.
But erase distractions
The internet can be so great when it comes to studying—but it can also make it that much more impossible if wifi (and all the apps, sites, and notifications that come with it) ruins your focus. And how could they not? You don’t have to have an ADHD diagnosis to know that the second you try to sit down and study, your mind instantly goes to five million different places. Suddenly you find yourself looking up that kindergarten classmate who moved to Montana instead of reading about the Oregon Trail, or shopping for new overalls instead of learning about the 20th century transformation of U.S. agriculture. Remove distractions as much as you can. Log off Snapchat, close out of Facebook, hit the X on Nasty Gal, and if all else fails, turn off your data and go offline for a bit.
You've totally got this—now go forth and earn some A's.
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