7 College Tips on How to Study Smarter Not Harder

September 13, 2021

As a student, you may want to improve your study habits and save time, but where do you start? Here are some top homework tips and advice on how to study smarter from students who understand the challenge.

If you’ve ever found yourself thinking ”I don’t know how to study!” or just simply need some study tips, don’t miss out on these pieces of advice!


Pick up the reins of your education

Remember your job is not just to do what your professors want. Learning is a lifelong endeavor, so take the reins of personal responsibility for your education. Studying is not all about the grade. God created you as an intelligent being, and there’s a purpose behind the things you are learning. Whatever you’re learning now will help you in the future, so make sure you have the right mindset while studying.That’s the first step to study smart.


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Take old-fashioned notes

While some students believe note-taking is not for them, many studies have shown that students who take notes retain information longer. Not only that, but the best way to take notes is on paper, not a laptop. Studies at Princeton and the University of California show the mix of physically writing on paper and cognitive function increases memory. According to Harvard, students who type notes work fast enough to pass information straight from the lecture to their computer without even using the time your memory needs to process–not to mention the endless distractions present on your laptop. Handwriting notes take time, but it will help you in the long run.


Study tip for college students: take old-fashion notes

Cut down on busy-work

Don’t underestimate the power of prioritizing. Now, this doesn’t mean only focusing on the things you want to focus on. If you are struggling with a class, look for the key concepts and work to master those.

Paying attention to the main points in class could help you understand what’s been taught and save hours of busy-work later. You should also train yourself to not be distracted while the teacher is speaking; turn off your phone or avoid sitting next to a friend who is likely to distract you.

If you’re struggling with a concept, you can always ask questions in class, email your professor, ask a friend, or visit the study lab for help. When it’s permitted, use Google or YouTube when you need to. There is a wealth of information right at your fingertips.

Additionally, always study your exam mistakes. If your class is cumulative, these ideas will definitely come up again later.


Do things while they are fresh on your mind

Another tip on how to study smarter is to do homework when it’s fresh on your mind. For most students, this isn’t rocket science. For the procrastinator, this is a challenge.

In fact, learning and productivity increase when students do thing before they forget them. Once you’ve had a chance to forget about your upcoming work, it’s much less likely you’ll get it done.

Here’s another study tip for college students: before you write a paper, read the instructions a couple of days (or weeks!) ahead of time, so you have time to think about a topic. Even if you don’t consciously think about it, your brain will be better prepared when you start writing.


Take care of yourself physically

It’s easy to only think about your mental health when focusing on study habits, but studying without physical exercise will only wear you down. You can’t study as smart as you want when your body is not ready for it!

It seems as though every college student is extremely stressed and sleep-deprived. Exercising regularly will help improve your thinking skills and give you more energy.

Make sure you take care of the basics: get a lot of sleep, drink lots of water, and exercise often. Cutting back on sugar and eating fruits and vegetables also increases concentration.


Know what study space works for you

Everyone is different. Know whether you prefer having background noise, music, or complete silence. Think about the kind of atmosphere you feel comfortable in, but not so comfortable that you find yourself falling asleep. If you’re someone who enjoys a change, try varying your study spaces. Other people might enjoy having a set routine. In either case, find what works best for you.


know a study place that works for you

Know your best studying time

If you want to study effectively, it’s important that you do it at your most productive time, when your brain can focus better and absorb more information. For some people, it could be in the evening or nighttime, while for others, morning is the most ideal time.

That said, different timing works for different people. In order to find your most appropriate time, ask yourself these questions:

  • When do you feel the most wide awake?
    It should be when your brain is set at the readiest state to absorb information and/or do some critical thinking. On the other hand, don’t try to study during your usual nap time or very late in the night if you are not used to staying up late. 
  • When do you feel it’s easier to concentrate?
    Don’t choose a study time that is prone to distraction. If your study place tends to be more crowded and louder during your studying time and causes you to be distracted, for example, it’s best to choose another time.
  • Can you stick to that optimal timing?
    Good timing doesn’t help much without consistency. You should be able to study in your best hours at least a couple of days per week. This will help to improve your studying quality over time.


Read more:  Here’s Why You Should Only Study for 30 Minute Stretches (Plus 9 More Tips)


Final Words

Above are some studying tips to help you find the answer to “How do I study smarter not harder?” Try turning them into practice one by one, and observe how it helps you study better. Keep in mind that the key to success is consistency!



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