How to Develop Effective and Efficient Study Skills


Setting Up Your Study Space

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Find a good study spot. Gain control of your study space. You should feel comfortable so that studying is more enjoyable. If you hate sitting at a table in the library, then find somewhere much more pleasant, like your sofa or a beanbag chair on your floor. Try studying in comfortable clothes, like a cozy sweatshirt or yoga pants.[6] The place where you study should be free from distractions and relatively quiet.[7]

  • Don’t choose a place so comfortable that you risk falling asleep. You want to be comfortable, not ready to fall asleep. A bed isn’t a very good study spot when you’re tired.
  • Traffic outside your window and quiet library conversations are fine white noise, but interrupting siblings and music blasting in the next room are not. You may want to go somewhere away from people who may provide distractions.
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Choose background music carefully. Some people prefer silence while they study, others prefer music in the background. Music can be beneficial to your studying by helping you be calm, elevating your mood, and motivating you. If you listen to music, stick to instrumental music, which is music that has no words like classical, movie scores, trance, or baroque.[8]

  • If it doesn’t distract you, listen to familiar music with words. Turn off anything that distracts you from your studying. You may be able to listen to rock music with words but not pop. Figure out what works for you.
  • Make sure to keep the music at a moderate to low volume. Loud music can distract you while quiet music can help you while studying.
  • Skip the radio. The commercials and the DJ’s voice can bring you out of your study zone.[9]
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Listen to background sounds. Background sounds can help you “get in the zone” and focus on your studies without getting distracted. Natural sounds such as waterfalls, rain, thunder, and jungle sounds can give enough white noise to keep you focused and block out other sounds. There are many places online to find these kinds of sounds, including Youtube.
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Keep the television turned off. Having the television on while you study is generally a bad idea. It can distract you a lot and make you focus on the TV show or movie instead of the book. Plus, voices are extremely distracting because it engages the language center of your brain.
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Snack smart. Eat healthy, nutritional foods while you study instead of foods filled with sugar and fat. Go for energy boosting foods, like fruit, or foods to make you feel full, like vegetables and nuts. If you need something sweet, eat dark chocolate. Drink water to keep you hydrated, and drink tea if you need a caffeine boost.

  • Avoid foods with high amounts of sugar and carbs, like instant noodles, chips, and candy. Don’t drink energy drinks and sugary sodas; they contain high amounts of sugar which will cause you to crash. If you drink coffee, skip the sugar heavy drinks.
  • Have your snacks prepared when you begin a study session so you don’t get hungry and go rummaging for food.

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