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How to Study Effectively: 12 Secrets For Success

Student taking notes in a notebook in her home

Being properly organized and prepared for tests and exams can make all the difference to school performance. Effective studying starts with the right attitude—a positive outlook can shift studying from a punishment to an opportunity to learn.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach when learning how to effectively study. Studying methods should be tailored to each student. Everyone has different abilities, so it is important to determine what works for you and what doesn’t. (Find out what type of learner you are and which study techniques will work best for you!)

For some students, studying and staying motivated comes easily — others may have to work a little bit harder.

What Is The Most Effective Way To Study?

Finding the best way to study is an ongoing process. It isn’t something that can be left to the night before the test. You should be constantly improving your study skills to better understand what works (and what doesn’t).

Learning how to study better helps avoid panic and frustration the next time a big test is coming up. After all, you are more likely to do well and be less stressed before a test when you have had time to properly review and practice the material!

Mastering effective study habits not only makes it easier to learn but will also help you get better grades in high school and post-secondary.

Discover the 12 secrets to studying effectively that will help you ace your next test.

How to study effectively, get organized, pay attention in class, steer clear of distractions, make sure notes are complete, ask questions if you don’t understand, make a study schedule/plan.

Start Studying More Effectively

Get more out of your study sessions with the complete study toolkit including note taking templates, tips, and more.

Review notes from class every evening

Talk to teachers, designate a study area, study in short bursts, simplify study notes, study with a group, study smart, not hard.

Knowing how to study effectively is a skill that will benefit you for life. Developing effective study skills requires lots of time and patience. If you follow these tips you’ll be on your way to discovering which type of studying works best for you—so you can knock your next test out of the park!

Need some extra help? Oxford Learning is here for you. Get more study tips and learning resources to help you succeed in school:

How To Take Study Notes: 5 Effective Note Taking Methods

How to be more organized in middle school (for students & parents), related studying resources.

Can You Enhance Study Sessions With Background Music?

Can You Enhance Study Sessions With Background Music?

10 Essential Study Skills Every Student Needs 

10 Essential Study Skills Every Student Needs 

The SAT Exam Goes Digital

College Prep, Studying

The sat exam goes digital.

Helping Students Study Effectively

Helping Students Study Effectively

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25 Scientifically Proven Tips for More Effective Studying

How to study tips for students

Staying on top of schoolwork can be tough.

Whether you’re in high school, or an adult going back to college, balancing coursework with other responsibilities can be challenging. If you’re teetering on the edge of burnout, here are some study tips that are scientifically proven to help you succeed!

2024 Ultimate Study Tips Guide

In this guide, we explore scientifically-proven study techniques from scientific journals and some of the world’s best resources like Harvard, Yale, MIT, and Cornell.

In a hurry? Skip ahead to the section that interests you most.

  • How to Prepare for Success
  • Create Your Perfect Study Space
  • Pick a Study Method that Works for You
  • Effective Study Skills
  • How to Study More Efficiently
  • How to Study for Tests
  • Memory Improvement Techniques
  • Top 10 Study Hacks Backed by Science
  • Best Study Apps
  • Study Skills Worksheets
  • Key Takeaways

This comprehensive guide covers everything from studying for exams to the best study apps. So, let’s get started!

Part 1 – How to Prepare for Success

Prepare to Study

1. Set a Schedule

“Oh, I’ll get to it soon” isn’t a valid study strategy. Rather, you have to be intentional about planning set study sessions .

On your calendar, mark out chunks of time that you can devote to your studies. You should aim to schedule some study time each day, but other commitments may necessitate that some sessions are longer than others.

Harder classes require more study time. So, too, do classes that are worth several credits. For each credit hour that you’re taking, consider devoting one to three hours to studying each week.

2. Study at Your Own Pace

Do you digest content quickly, or do you need time to let the material sink in? Only you know what pace is best for you.

There’s no right (or wrong) study pace. So, don’t try matching someone else’s speed.

Instead, through trial and error, find what works for you. Just remember that slower studying will require that you devote more time to your schoolwork.

3. Get Some Rest

Exhaustion helps no one perform their best. Your body needs rest ; getting enough sleep is crucial for memory function.

This is one reason that scheduling study time is so important: It reduces the temptation to stay up all night cramming for a big test. Instead, you should aim for seven or more hours of sleep the night before an exam.

Student napping after studying

Limit pre-studying naps to 15 or 20 minutes at a time. Upon waking, do a few stretches or light exercises to prepare your body and brain for work.

4. Silence Your Cell Phone

Interruptions from your phone are notorious for breaking your concentration. If you pull away to check a notification, you’ll have to refocus your brain before diving back into your studies.

Consider turning off your phone’s sounds or putting your device into do not disturb mode before you start. You can also download apps to temporarily block your access to social media .

If you’re still tempted to check your device, simply power it off until you’re finished studying.

Research shows that stress makes it harder to learn and to retain information.

Stress-busting ideas include:

  • Taking deep breaths
  • Writing down a list of tasks you need to tackle
  • Doing light exercise

Try to clear your head before you begin studying.

Part 2 – Create Your Perfect Study Space

college student studying at desk

1. Pick a Good Place to Study

There’s a delicate balance when it comes to the best study spot : You need a place that’s comfortable without being so relaxing that you end up falling asleep. For some people, that means working at a desk. Others do better on the couch or at the kitchen table. Your bed, on the other hand, may be too comfy.

Surrounding yourself with peace and quiet helps you focus. If your kids are being loud or there’s construction going on outside your window, you might need to relocate to an upstairs bedroom, a quiet cafe or your local library.

2. Choose Your Music Wisely

Noise-canceling headphones can also help limit distractions.

It’s better to listen to quiet music than loud tunes. Some people do best with instrumental music playing in the background.

Study listening to music

Songs with lyrics may pull your attention away from your textbooks. However, some folks can handle listening to songs with words, so you may want to experiment and see what works for you.

Just remember that there’s no pressure to listen to any music. If you do your best work in silence, then feel free to turn your music player off.

3. Turn Off Netflix

If song lyrics are distracting, just imagine what an attention sucker the television can be! Serious studying requires that you turn off the TV.

The same goes for listening to radio deejays. Hearing voices in the background takes your brainpower off of your studies.

4. Use Background Sounds

Turning off the television, talk radio and your favorite pop song doesn’t mean that you have to study in total silence. Soft background sounds are a great alternative.

Some people enjoy listening to nature sounds, such as ocean waves or cracks of thunder. Others prefer the whir of a fan.

5. Snack on Brain Food

A growling stomach can pull your mind from your studies, so feel free to snack as you work. Keep your snacks within arm’s reach, so you don’t have to leave your books to find food.

Fuel your next study session with some of the following items:

  • Lean deli meat
  • Grapes or apple slices
  • Dark chocolate

Go for snacks that will power your brain and keep you alert. Steer clear of items that are high in sugar, fat and processed carbs.

Part 3 – Pick a Study Method That Works for You

List of Study Methods

Mindlessly reading through your notes or textbooks isn’t an effective method of studying; it doesn’t help you process the information. Instead, you should use a proven study strategy that will help you think through the material and retain the information.

Strategy #1 – SQ3R Method

With the SQ3R approach to reading , you’ll learn to think critically about a text.

There are five steps:

  • Survey : Skim through the assigned material. Focus on headings, words in bold print and any diagrams.
  • Question : Ask yourself questions related to the topic.
  • Read : Read the text carefully. As you go, look for answers to your questions.
  • Recite : Tell yourself the answers to your questions. Write notes about them, even.
  • Review : Go over the material again by rereading the text and reading your notes aloud.

Strategy #2 – PQ4R Method

PQ4R is another study strategy that can help you digest the information you read.

This approach has six steps:

  • Preview : Skim the material. Read the titles, headings and other highlighted text.
  • Question : Think through questions that pertain to the material.
  • Read : As you work through the material, try to find answers to your questions.
  • Reflect : Consider whether you have any unanswered questions or new questions.
  • Recite : Speak aloud about the things you just read.
  • Review : Look over the material one more time.

Strategy #3 – THIEVES Method

The THIEVES approach can help you prepare to read for information.

There are seven pre-reading steps:

  • Title : Read the title.
  • Headings : Look through the headings.
  • Introduction : Skim the intro.
  • Every first sentence in a section : Take a look at how each section begins.
  • Visuals and vocabulary : Look at the pictures and the words in bold print.
  • End questions : Review the questions at the end of the chapter.
  • Summary : Read the overview of the text.

Ask yourself thought-provoking questions as you work through these steps. After completing them, read the text.

Studying Online

Although these three study strategies can be useful in any setting, studying online has its own set of challenges.

Dr. Tony Bates has written a thoughtful and thorough guide to studying online, A Student Guide to Studying Online . Not only does he highlight the importance of paying attention to course design, but he also offers helpful tips on how to choose the best online program and manage your course load.

Part 4 – Effective Study Skills

1. Highlight Key Concepts

Looking for the most important information as you read helps you stay engaged with the material . This can help keep your mind from wandering as you read.

As you find important details, mark them with a highlighter, or underline them. It can also be effective to jot notes along the edges of the text. Write on removable sticky notes if the book doesn’t belong to you.

When you’re preparing for a test, begin your studies by reviewing your highlighted sections and the notes you wrote down.

2. Summarize Important Details

One good way to get information to stick in your brain is to tell it again in your own words. Writing out a summary can be especially effective. You can organize your summaries in paragraph form or in outline form.

Keep in mind that you shouldn’t include every bit of information in a summary. Stick to the key points.

Consider using different colors on your paper. Research shows that information presented in color is more memorable than things written in plain type. You could use colored pens or go over your words with highlighters.

After writing about what you read, reinforce the information yet again by reading aloud what you wrote on your paper.

3. Create Your Own Flashcards

For an easy way to quiz yourself , prepare notecards that feature a keyword on one side and important facts or definitions about that topic on the reverse.

Writing out the cards will help you learn the information. Quizzing yourself on the cards will continue that reinforcement.

The great thing about flashcards is that they’re easily portable. Slip them in your bag, so you can pull them out whenever you have a spare minute. This is a fantastic way to squeeze in extra practice time outside of your regularly scheduled study sessions.

As an alternative to paper flashcards, you can also use a computer program or a smartphone app to make digital flashcards that you can click through again and again.

Small group studying together

4. Improve Recall with Association

Sometimes your brain could use an extra hand to help you hold onto the information that you’re studying. Creating imaginary pictures, crafting word puzzles or doing other mental exercises can help make your material easier to remember.

Try improving recall with the following ideas:

  • Sing the information to a catchy tune.
  • Think of a mnemonic phrase in which the words start with the same letters as the words that you need to remember.
  • Draw a picture that helps you make a humorous connection between the new information and the things that you already know.
  • Envision what it would be like to experience your topic in person. Imagine the sights, sounds, smells and more.
  • Think up rhymes or tongue twisters that can help the information stick in your brain.
  • Visualize the details with a web-style mind map that illustrates the relationships between concepts.

5. Absorb Information in Smaller Chunks

Think about how you memorize a phone number: You divide the 10-digit number into three smaller groups. It’s easier to get these three chunks to stick in your mind than it is to remember the whole thing as a single string of information.

You can use this strategy when studying by breaking a list down into smaller parts. Work on memorizing each part as its own group.

6. Make Your Own Study Sheet

Condensing your most important notes onto one page is an excellent way to keep priority information at your fingertips. The more you look over this sheet and read it aloud, the better that you’ll know the material.

Student making a study sheet

Furthermore, the act of typing or writing out the information will help you memorize the details. Using different colors or lettering styles can help you picture the information later.

Just like flashcards, a study sheet is portable. You can pull it out of your bag whenever you have a spare minute.

7. Be the Teacher

To teach information to others, you first have to understand it yourself. Therefore, when you’re trying to learn something new, challenge yourself to consider how you’d teach it to someone else. Wrestling with this concept will help you gain a better understanding of the topic.

In fact, you can even recruit a friend, a family member or a study group member to listen to your mini-lesson. Reciting your presentation aloud to someone else will help the details stick in your mind, and your audience may be able to point out gaps in your knowledge.

8. Know When to Call It a Day

Yes, you really can get too much of a good thing. Although your studies are important, they shouldn’t be the only thing in your life. It’s also important to have a social life, get plenty of exercise, and take care of your non-school responsibilities.

Studies show that too much time with your nose in the books can elevate your stress level , which can have a negative effect on your school performance and your personal relationships.

Too much studying may also keep you from getting enough exercise. This could lower your bone density or increase your percentage of body fat.

Part 5 – How to Study More Efficiently

How to study more efficiently

1. Take Regular Breaks

Study sessions will be more productive if you allow yourself to take planned breaks. Consider a schedule of 50 minutes spent working followed by a 10-minute break.

Your downtime provides a good chance to stand up and stretch your legs. You can also use this as an opportunity to check your phone or respond to emails. When your 10 minutes are up, however, it’s time to get back to work.

At the end of a long study session, try to allow yourself a longer break — half an hour, perhaps — before you move on to other responsibilities.

2. Take Notes in Class

The things that your teacher talks about in class are most likely topics that he or she feels are quite important to your studies. So, it’s a good idea to become a thorough note-taker.

The following tips can help you become an efficient, effective note-taker:

  • Stick to the main points.
  • Use shorthand when possible.
  • If you don’t have time to write all the details, jot down a keyword or a name. After class, you can use your textbook to elaborate on these items.
  • For consistency, use the same organizational system each time you take notes.
  • Consider writing your notes by hand, which can help you remember the information better. However, typing may help you be faster or more organized.

Recording important points is effective because it forces you to pay attention to what’s being said during a lecture.

3. Exercise First

Would you believe that exercise has the potential to grow your brain ? Scientists have shown this to be true!

Student exercising before studying

In fact, exercise is most effective at generating new brain cells when it’s immediately followed by learning new information.

There are short-term benefits to exercising before studying as well. Physical activity helps wake you up so you feel alert and ready when you sit down with your books.

4. Review and Revise Your Notes at Home

If your notes are incomplete — for example, you wrote down dates with no additional information — take time after class to fill in the missing details. You may also want to swap notes with a classmate so you can catch things that you missed during the lecture.

  • Rewrite your notes if you need to clean them up
  • Rewriting will help you retain the information
  • Add helpful diagrams or pictures
  • Read through them again within one day

If you find that there are concepts in your notes that you don’t understand, ask your professor for help. You may be able to set up a meeting or communicate through email.

After rewriting your notes, put them to good use by reading through them again within the next 24 hours. You can use them as a reference when you create study sheets or flashcards.

5. Start with Your Toughest Assignments

Let’s face it: There are some subjects that you like more than others. If you want to do things the smart way, save your least challenging tasks for the end of your studies. Get the hardest things done first.

If you save the toughest tasks for last, you’ll have them hanging over your head for the whole study session. That can cost you unnecessary mental energy.

Effective study skills

Furthermore, if you end with your favorite assignments, it will give you a more positive feeling about your academic pursuits. You’ll be more likely to approach your next study session with a good attitude.

6. Focus on Key Vocabulary

To really understand a subject, you have to know the words that relate to it. Vocabulary words are often written in textbooks in bold print. As you scan the text, write these words down in a list.

Look them up in a dictionary or in the glossary at the back of the book. To help you become familiar with the terms, you could make a study sheet with the definitions or make flashcards.

7. Join a Study Group

Studying doesn’t always have to be an individual activity.

Benefits of a study group include:

  • Explaining the material to one another
  • Being able to ask questions about things you don’t understand
  • Quizzing each other or playing review games
  • Learning the material more quickly than you might on your own
  • Developing soft skills that will be useful in your career, such as teamwork and problem solving
  • Having fun as you study

Gather a few classmates to form a study group.

Part 6 – How to Study for Tests

How to study for tests and exams

1. Study for Understanding, Not Just for the Test

Cramming the night before a big test usually involves trying to memorize information long enough to be able to regurgitate it the next morning. Although that might help you get a decent grade or your test, it won’t help you really learn the material .

Within a day or two, you’ll have forgotten most of what you studied. You’ll have missed the goal of your classes: mastery of the subject matter.

Instead, commit yourself to long-term learning by studying throughout the semester.

2. Begin Studying at Least One Week in Advance

Of course, you may need to put in extra time before a big test, but you shouldn’t put this off until the night before.

Instead, in the week leading up to the exam, block off a daily time segment for test preparation. Regular studying will help you really learn the material.

3. Spend at Least One Hour per Day Studying

One week out from a big test, study for an hour per night. If you have two big tests coming up, increase your daily study time, and divide it between the two subjects.

How to study for finals

The day before the exam, spend as much time as possible studying — all day, even.

4. Re-write Class Notes

After each class, you should have fleshed out your notes and rewritten them in a neat, organized format. Now, it’s time to take your re-done notes and write them once again.

This time, however, your goal is to condense them down to only the most important material. Ideally, you want your rewritten notes to fit on just one or two sheets of paper.

These sheets should be your main study resource during test preparation.

5. Create a Study Outline

Early in the week, make a long outline that includes many of the details from your notes. Rewrite it a few days later, but cut the material in half.

Shortly before the test, write it one more time; include only the most important information. Quiz yourself on the missing details.

6. Make Your Own Flashcards

Another way to quiz yourself is to make flashcards that you can use for practice written tests.

First, read the term on the front side. Encourage yourself to write out the definition or details of that term. Compare your written answer with what’s on the back of the card.

This can be extra helpful when prepping for an entrance exam like the GRE, though there are a growing number of schools that don’t require GRE scores for admission.

7. Do Sample Problems and Essays from Your Textbook

There are additional things you can do to practice test-taking. For example, crack open your book, and solve problems like the ones you expect to see on the test.

Write out the answers to essay questions as well. There may be suggested essay topics in your textbook.

Part 7 – Memory Improvement Techniques

Man studying before bed time

1. Study Right Before Bed

Although you shouldn’t pull all-nighters, studying right before bedtime can be a great idea.

Sleep helps cement information in your brain. Studies show that you’re more likely to recall information 24 hours later if you went to bed shortly after learning it.

Right before bed, read through your study sheet, quiz yourself on flashcards or recite lists of information.

2. Study Small Chunks at a Time

If you want to remember information over the long haul, don’t try to cram it all in during one sitting.

Instead, use an approach called spaced repetition :

  • Break the information into parts
  • Learn one new part at a time over the course of days or weeks
  • Review your earlier acquisitions each time you study

The brain stores information that it thinks is important. So, when you regularly go over a topic at set intervals over time, it strengthens your memory of it.

3. Tell a Story

Sometimes, you just need to make information silly in order to help it stick in your brain.

To remember a list of items or the particular order of events, make up a humorous story that links those things or words together. It doesn’t necessarily need to make sense; it just needs to be memorable .

Study to improve memory

4. Change Study Locations Often

Studying the same information in multiple places helps the details stick in your mind better.

Consider some of the following locations:

  • Your desk at home
  • A coffee shop
  • The library
  • Your backyard

It’s best to switch between several different study spots instead of always hitting the books in the same place.

5. Swap Topics Regularly

Keeping your brain trained on the same information for long periods of time isn’t beneficial. It’s smarter to jump from one subject to another a few times during a long study session.

Along those same lines, you should study the same material in multiple ways. Research shows that using varied study methods for the same topic helps you perform better on tests.

6. Quiz Yourself

Challenge yourself to see what you can remember. Quizzing yourself is like practicing for the test, and it’s one of the most effective methods of memory retention .

If it’s hard to remember the information at first, don’t worry; the struggle makes it more likely that you’ll remember it in the end.

7. Go Old-school: Use a Pen and Paper

The act of writing answers helps you remember the information. Here are some ways to use writing while studying:

  • Recopy your notes
  • Write the answers to flashcards
  • Make a study sheet
  • Practice writing essay answers

Writing by hand is best because it requires your attention and focus.

8. See It & Hear It

Say information out loud, and you’ll be more likely to remember it. You’re engaging your eyes as you read the words, your mouth as you say them, and your ears as you hear yourself.

Scientists call the benefit of speaking information aloud production effect .

Part 8 – Top 10 Study Hacks Backed by Science

Form a study group

1. Grab a Coffee

Drinking coffee (or your preferred high-octane beverage) while you study may help keep you alert so you don’t doze off mid-session. There’s even evidence that caffeine can improve your memory skills.

However, avoid sugary beverages. These could cause your energy level to crash in a few hours.

2. Reward Yourself

Studies show that giving yourself a reward for doing your work helps you enjoy the effort more.

Do it right away; don’t wait until the test is over to celebrate. For example, after finishing a three-hour study session, treat yourself to an ice cream cone or a relaxing bath.

3. Study with Others

Working with a study group holds you accountable so it’s harder to procrastinate on your work.

When you study together, you can fill in gaps in one another’s understanding, and you can quiz each other on the material.

Besides, studying with a group can be fun!

4. Meditate

It may be hard to imagine adding anything else to your packed schedule, but dedicating time to mindfulness practices can really pay off.

Meditate during study sessions

Studies show that people who meditate may perform better on tests , and they are generally more attentive.

Mindfulness apps can help you get started with this practice.

5. Hit the Gym

To boost the blood flow to your brain, do half an hour of cardio exercise before sitting down to study.

Aerobic exercise gives your brain a major dose of oxygen and other important nutrients, which may help you think clearly, remember facts and do your best work.

6. Play Some Music

Listening to tunes can help you focus. Studies show that the best study music is anything that features a rhythmic beat .

It’s smart to choose a style that you like. If you like classical, that’s fine, but you could also go for electronica or modern piano solos.

7. Grab Some Walnuts

A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids helps your brain do its best work.

Good sources include:

  • Fish: cod liver oil, salmon and mackerel
  • Vegetables: spinach and Brussels sprouts

To calm your pre-test jitters, eat a mix of omega-3 and omega-6 foods.

8. Take Regular Breaks

Your brain needs some downtime. Don’t try to push through for hours on end. Every hour, take a break for several minutes.

Take regular study breaks

Breaks are good for your mental health . They also improve your attention span, your creativity and your productivity.

During a break, it’s best to move around and exercise a bit.

9. Get Some Sleep

Although studying is important, it can’t come at the expense of your rest. Sleep gives your brain a chance to process the information that you’ve learned that day.

If you don’t get enough sleep, you’ll have a hard time focusing and remembering information.

Even during busy test weeks, try to get seven to nine hours of sleep each night.

10. Eliminate Distractions

It’s hard to get much studying done when you’re busy scrolling Instagram. Put away your phone and computer while studying, or at least block your social media apps.

Turn off the television while you work, too.

If you’re studying in a noisy area, put on headphones that can help block the distracting sounds.

Part 9 – The Best Study Apps

Student using Study App on iPhone

1. iStudiez Pro Legend

Scheduling study time is a must, and iStudiez Pro Legend lets you put study sessions, classes and assignments on your calendar. Color coding the entries can help you stay organized.

istudiez pro study app

For each class, you can enter meeting times and homework assignments, and you can keep track of your grades.

2. Dragon Anywhere

Instead of writing notes in the margins of your textbooks, you can use Dragon Anywhere’s voice dictation feature to record your thoughts and insights.

Dragon Anywhere study app

Just be sure to rewrite your dictated notes in your own handwriting later for maximum learning!

3. Evernote

When you’re in school, you have a lot of responsibilities to juggle, but Evernote can help you organize them.

Evernote Study App

You can add notes and documents to store them in one digital spot, and tagging them will help you quickly pull up all files for a class or a topic.

4. Quizlet Go

Make digital flashcards that you can practice on your mobile device with Quizlet Go .

Quizlet Study App

This means that you can pull out your phone for a quick study session whenever you have a couple of minutes of downtime. You don’t even need internet access to practice these flashcards.

5. My Study Life

Enter your upcoming tests and assignments into My Study Life , and the app will send you reminder messages.

My Study Life Study App

The app has a calendar so you can keep track of your class schedule. It can even notify you when it’s time to go to class.

6. Exam Countdown Lite

You should start studying for tests at least a week in advance. Input the dates for your exams and assignments into Exam Countdown Lite so you’ll have a visual reminder of when you should begin your test prep.

Exam Countdown Study App

The app can send you notifications as well.

7. Flashcards+

With Chegg’s Flashcards+ , you can make your own digital flashcards or use ones designed by others.

Chegg Flashcards Study App

Because you can add images to your cards, you can quiz yourself on the names of famous artworks, important historical artifacts or parts of a scientific diagram.

Organize information into categories by creating a visual mind map on XMind . This can help you classify facts and figures so you see how they relate to one another.

Xmind Study App

This visual representation can also help you recall the information later.

9. ScannerPro

Do you have piles of handwritten notes everywhere? Once you have written them out, consider scanning them into digital form. ScannerPro lets you use your phone as a scanner.

Scanner Pro Study App

You can store your scanned files in this app or transfer them to Evernote or another organization system.

Part 10 – Study Skills Worksheets

Could you use more help to develop your study skills? Rutgers University has dozens of study skills worksheets online .

Study Skills Worksheets

These documents are packed with tips that can help you become a better student. The checklists and charts can help you evaluate your current strengths and organize your work.

Part 11 – Key Takeaways

Study tips summary

You’re a busy person, so you need to make the most of every study session.

By now, you should understand the basics of effective studies:

  • Schedule study time
  • Study regularly
  • Minimize distractions
  • Read for information
  • Write the important stuff down
  • Use creative memory tricks
  • Quiz yourself
  • Be good to your body and your brain

Put these study tips to good use, and you’ll soon learn that you’ve learned how to study smarter.

study tips essay

How to Study Effectively: 15 Tips for 2024

study tips essay

  • 💪 Student Superheroes
  • 🙌 Path to Success
  • 🏁 Be Ready!
  • ⏱ Manage Your Time
  • 📖 Learning and Memorizing
  • 😰 Controlling Test Anxiety

Ever wondered how to study effectively? Why does one of your classmates need just a couple of hours to memorize information and pass an exam with flying colors? And why does another spend a night cramming material and still struggle to recall anything?

Actually, the answer to all of that:

Effective studying comes from regularity and consistently implemented habits. If you want to make the best of your time spent learning, you have to find an approach and study tips that work for you. Thankfully, that’s why our IvyPanda team has developed this guide.

Below, you will find how to study smart, essay writing tips, and tricks for managing your anxiety.

💪 Student superheroes

You have probably heard of the trait theory of leadership. According to it, some people are born to become leaders . They just have some features in their blood .

Such students have numerous advantages compared to others as they can:

  • acquire information quicker,
  • study for exams faster,
  • pass tests without being nervous.

Maybe some people are born to be the best. Yet, it is total nonsense to say that all students who spend less time studying belong to this group of people.

The successful passing of exams depends on understanding how learning works. Studying is a skill, and cramming all night before the exam is not a secret ingredient of success.

🙌 Path to success

Having good study habits presupposes knowing your strengths and weaknesses, using different study methods, and organizing the process. One can acquire valuable skills by paying attention to the organization of the process of learning first.

Your strategy should include the following steps :

  • Preparation for studying;
  • Time-management;
  • Learning and memorizing;
  • Controlling test anxiety.

🏁 Be ready!

Effective studying never starts from opening the book. It requires the whole organization process to take place before anything. Thus, before studying, you have to prepare yourself and your study materials.

1. Set goals

First of all, you should prepare for your study by setting goals. They are necessary to make you keep going. Don’t underestimate their power.

Be sure that:

  • You know why you are studying. It can be for scraping through the exam, finishing college, getting good grades, satisfying your parents, or having professional knowledge for your future career. No matter what your goal is, it should be an impetus for studying;
  • Your goals are achievable. You should be able to achieve them within a particular period of time and with substantial effort. No need for making over-optimistic promises — be realistic!

Student Learning for Studies.

2. Choose the place for studying

This decision is up to you alone. You should find a place where you feel comfortable (but not comfortable for sleeping). Some people can study with background music , while others need silence.

You will know how to study smart with some of these tips:

  • Light matters. The place you have chosen should be well lit. Areas with poor lighting are more likely to make you sleepy;
  • Noise matters. If you need background noise, you may go to the café or turn on some music. Meanwhile, a library may be the best option for people who prefer absolute silence.
  • Time matters. You should not make yourself wake up early in the morning and study just because it works for that friend of yours. If you are a night owl, feel free to study in the evening.

3. Avoid distractions and boost productivity

Numerous things that you use are invisible thieves of your energy and concentration:

  • Studying while the television is on may result in constant distraction from thoughtful reading.
  • The same is true with your smartphone. Answering incoming calls leads to wasted time. As a result, you become tired before you have managed to study anything.
  • The Internet is probably your enemy as well. If you need a computer, close all social media, and concentrate on your task.

What’s the bottom line?

You can boost productivity in many ways. It can be drinking coffee or listening to classical music. You should know what makes you active and use it for your studying.

Man is Using Tablet and Smiling.

4. Stay motivated

Attitude and mindset play a crucial role in successful and easy studying. ‘I don’t feel like studying’ is a widespread reason to avoid doing something worthwhile. Follow these easy recommendations, and you will be impressed at how they will change your attitude towards studying:

  • Don’t underestimate yourself. Remind yourself that you have the necessary study skills and can achieve anything. You should always be your greatest supporter.
  • No negative thinking. Thoughts like, ‘I will never do it,’ ‘I can’t stand doing it anymore, ‘I’m a total failure, I will fail it for sure’ are not acceptable if you want to pass your exam.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others. Thoughts like, ‘I bet that Meggy has already studied half of the book’ is an unnecessary distraction. Such ideas only increase your dissatisfaction and demotivate you.

In essence, attitude towards learning habits and upcoming exams is what differentiates quick learners from others in most cases. Self-confidence is a great determiner of success.

⏱ Manage your time

The proper division of time is one of the most critical study tips. The disorganization and constant putting off until tomorrow are two major problems.

5. Avoid procrastination

Currently, putting away tasks for later seems to be one of the most pressing problems for students. A study of procrastination among students has shown that 80-95% of students procrastinate. Most of them justify that fact by stating that working under pressure improves their efficiency. However, the study results have demonstrated that there is a connection between low GPA and procrastination habits.

To avoid it, you should:

6. Schedule every hour

If you want to know how to study effectively, you have to manage your time correctly. It is halfway to success. If you doubt whether you are a procrastinator, do this test to find out.

Yet, our tips on time management can be helpful regardless of the results:

  • Make a to-do list . Nothing can be easier than writing down everything you have to do. Make a list of all your tasks and give them deadlines. Then, write down the assignments with the shortest deadlines first. Classify these as urgent depending on their priority. Lastly, make a final list of what should be done first.
  • Use a tool for organizing. It can be an app on your phone or a calendar with crucial tasks circled in red. You should find the most efficient way to remind yourself about the upcoming deadlines.
  • Count every minute. Be precise when planning your schedule. Think about the necessary amount of time for the particular task, and don’t overvalue your possibilities. Always take into account potential delays and leave time for planning.

In fact, students are expected to spend 35 hours a week studying. Check how many hours you need to attend all classes. Then, use the rest of the time for independent work.

📖 Learning and memorizing

Some students tend to try different memorizing techniques without considering their learning style. For example, a student needs to hear the information they want to remember. In this case, highlighting essential parts of the text won’t be as efficient as it is for a visual learner.

That’s why:

7. Know your learning style

Identify your learning style and choose appropriate techniques for study. People are generally divided into three types of learners :

  • Visuals are those who learn by seeing something. Highlighting does work for such people.
  • Auditory learners who prefer listening. It is advisable for this type of learner to speak with others, read aloud, or record themselves.
  • Tactile learners learn something new by doing it. They need to practice if they want to memorize the theory.

If you are not sure about your learning style, follow this link and find it out by answering these simple questions.

Young People are Using Flashcards in a Plan.

8. Use different study tips for memorization

You have chosen a place for study, got rid of all distractions, and evaluated the urgency of your tasks. Half the work is done. Now it is time to start working on your study habits. Many articles emphasize the significance of such techniques as visiting lectures, making notes , or reading before bed.

Such study tips are helpful, but they are not universal. They don’t work for every single student. That’s why you have to try out and implement different recommendations at the same time.

Here are some creative techniques for study:

  • The system of rewards . Promise yourself that you will buy that fancy dress or watch (or anything else you want) after passing the exam. This type may be classified as a long-term extrinsic motivator. Also, you can make the process of studying more pleasant by giving yourself little treats. For example, let yourself eat or drink something delicious when you finish some part of your studying.
  • Read upside down . This study habit is efficient if you need to cram something. Yes, cramming is believed to be an ineffective method of studying. Yet, every student knows that sometimes there is no other way out. When you read upside down, you have to focus better. Otherwise, you won’t be able to understand the meaning of the text. Concentrating on something makes you memorize and comprehend it quicker.
  • Teach somebody . This method is fantastic, and it works in most cases. When you teach someone, you have to explain the topic. No explanation is possible without understanding . Consequently, you will have to do your best to describe the issue to your friend (or anybody else, including you) so that they can get it.

Also, you can always search a free essay database for either more tips or to get some extra info on the topic you’re studying.

9. Use flashcards

Flashcards are handy for becoming a better learner:

  • Write down essential facts using bullet points, different colors and fonts to enhance visual perception.
  • Take them with you everywhere you go and don’t miss the opportunity to read them during the so-called ‘dead times’ (waiting for a bus, standing in a queue).
  • You can even pin them to your fridge or bathroom mirror. This way, they will always be in your sight.
  • Use flashcards in group activities with your classmates.

Moreover, you can keep them on your smartphone or computer by using specific apps! Here are some examples perfect for university and college students:

  • GoConqr – with this app, you can use great flashcards made just for visual learning or create your own set. Add images, formulas, and text to make your flashcards.
  • Cram – almost 200 million cards for learning online. You can read cards or enable audio records.

10. Use our checklist

Each time you study, you can try different study techniques. For this purpose, keep this checklist around:

Find out more great study habits that are scientifically proved in this video .

😰 Controlling text anxiety

Even for a well-prepared student, anxiety may spoil everything , especially before an exam. Being too nervous may result in poor concentration and, as a result, a bad grade. People who pass exams easily know not only how to study but how to stay calm.

Here are some tips on how to stay relaxed during your test:

11. Read the tasks and use samples

Read all instructions carefully and follow directions exactly. Whether it’s a chemistry, physics, or history test—understanding the task is the most significant start for a successful score.

If you still don’t feel prepared for the test, try out a couple of online exams. Find some test questions that may appear on your future exam.

Finding essay samples on any topic is possible. Analyze them, and you won’t have to develop your own paper from scratch:

  • 125 College Essay Examples for 13 Schools + Expert Analysis– an enormous pick of college essay samples for practice.
  • Writing Sample Essays – an excellent essay analysis you can use as learning material. You’ll learn what standards to follow when writing a paper.
  • Essay Questions – this is an excellent option for those who are struggling with anxiety. All essay questions are fun and exciting to read. They also help you find a creative way of writing on your own.

Sample Essay Screenshot.

12. Stay positive and healthy

According to statistics, 25% of school students are affected by test anxiety . It doesn’t only affect their academic performance. It impacts health, giving such symptoms as nausea, stomach pain, headaches, and shortness of breath.

You can’t let yourself be stressed all the time. Take some time to read workbooks, do exercises, and make other preparations. But then, take some time to relax, eat healthily, have a good night’s sleep, and build your confidence.

13. Breathe

If you feel too worried, try taking slow, deep breaths that will cool you down.

If feelings of panic and anxiety are familiar to you, it’s great to learn the 4×4 breathing technique. Navy SEALs use it and, if performed correctly, it eliminates all the negative signs of anxiety.

To perform it, follow these instructions:

  • Inhale for 4 seconds.
  • Hold your breath for 4 seconds.
  • Exhale for 4 seconds.
  • Don’t breathe for 4 seconds.

Repeat until you feel calm and not threatened by a panic attack.

14. Use relaxation and meditation apps

Note-taking, reading scientific resources, or exercising are helpful activities. Unfortunately, they won’t work if you worry too much. That’s why you should install one of these apps on your desktop or smartphone. Such software can turn into quite an excellent strategy for staying calm and passing exams.

Here are some app suggestions:

  • Calm helps thousands of people to improve their sleep, perform meditation, and release stress. It allows you to listen to stories by Stephen Fry, Tamara Levitt, and others. You’ll do breathing exercises and experience soothing nature sounds until you’re okay.
  • Meditation and Relaxation is an app that includes essential parts of a healthy routine. It takes care of your productivity, calmness, sleep, and happiness. Learn to meditate and do that every day. It will eliminate all anxiety on your way to exam success.
  • Aura is a free app for iOS and Android that helps you reduce stress and improve your mood. It includes essential components: a gratitude journal, breathing exercises, mood analysis, and sounds of nature. Track your happiness, meditate, and increase your level in game-like software.

15. Check the video

We can’t fit all the helpful techniques in one article. Therefore, we offer you a video with more valuable ways of coping with test anxiety.

Thank you for reading! We hope that now you know how to study effectively and won’t have any struggles in the future. Share the page with other students who may need these tips.

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Hello I have been looking for a website, but because of you I have stopped It’s like you were talking to me I don’t really have hope that I can ever pass physics or chemistry but now I feel nice I love your article, don’t STOP!

Thanks for your kind words. Much appreciated!

Good luck on your physics and chemistry classes 🙂

Nice article

Thank you, Emmanuel 🙂

Home › Study Tips › How To Write an Academic Essay? 9 Amazing Tips

How To Write an Academic Essay? 9 Amazing Tips

  • Published October 19, 2021

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Table of Contents

A regular question by our subscribers, so we’re here to answer ‘how to write an academic essay’?

In order to write a good academic essay and thesis, you must use appropriate language and concise words (and make sure there is plenty of proofreading and editing!).

It can be hard to ensure your essay follows proper conventions so we have compiled a list of things to do and things to avoid to make your essay sound more academic.

Remember before reading this, that you should be planning your essay, and important things to remember include: thesis and introduction, a well-structured body of text, research, and more.

These 9 important pieces of advice will help you be the author of a great academic paper.

1. Avoid Contractions

One question I always get, is should I use contractions? A contraction is a combination of words that have been shortened by either fusing the two words together or the omission of syllables from the two words.

For example, the words:

  • aren’t
  • don’t
  • can’t

are all contractions.

Contractions are the enemy of a formal academic essay. Use them in your everyday conversation, but it is important to leave them out of your essay.

2. Avoid Clichés

Clichés are overused phrases or expressions such as “back to square one”, or “too good to be true”.

You can find hundreds of clichés and you should avoid them at all costs, as you do not need them.

Clichés are not always obvious, so you have to be thorough in your proofreading to ensure that no clichés have made their way into your academic essay.

In essence, avoid using flowery language and make sure you go through the process of knowing that your reader knows what you mean by writing plainly and clearly in your essay.

Advice: Write for the reader!

3. Avoid Colloquialisms and Informal Vocab

Your essay should steer clear of any colloquialisms or informal words, which will make it flow better for the reader. When writing essays be sure to avoid words that you use in everyday conversation such as, totally, basically, super and heaps.

Another important writing process is that you should never use slang or abbreviations in your academic essay. This is especially important when setting the tone in your thesis.

4. Use Academic Vocabulary

Ensure that you use academic vocabulary in your essay to strengthen your argument. Avoid words such as think, use and lots as these sound less academic. If you’re looking for more ways on writing better then our ‘ how to improve your writing ‘ may be of interest to you.

Use descriptive words to help your reader understand key points in your statements, introductions, body and conclusion.

When writing an academic essay, there is important to use academic words throughout the paper. By writing answers to the paper questions with a well-thought-out structure and use of academic vocab, then you’ll be well on your way to pleasing the reader of your paper.

5. Make Your Thesis or Argument Obvious

When writing an academic essay, one of the most important things is to ensure that your argument is clear, obvious and is clearly stated in plain language.

Use strong wording in your thesis or argument to persuade your reader. You can help this by using a careful structure in your essay plan, as well as writing clear coherent paragraphs and sections.

Your thesis statement should be in your introduction paragraph and reviewed in the proofreading process to ensure you have answered the question.

6. Ensure You Are Using the Right Point of View

The point of view in your paper depends on the type of essay you are writing and the task requirements. Always ensure that you are writing from the correct point of view when writing your essay.

Academic essays will either be written in the third person or first person. You should never write an essay in the second person.

7. Use Topic Sentences and Transitions

Each paragraph of your paper should begin with a topic sentence. A topic sentence introduces the main concept or idea of a paragraph.

Similar to topic sentences, transition sentences make your paper flow from one idea to another within a paragraph. Having these smooth transitions make your academic essay clearer and easier to read.

For instance, when editing your thesis you should make sure there is a topic sentence.

Are you looking to study English at university? Then you’ll love our top UK-ranked universities for English Literature .

8. Ensure Your Document is Properly Formatted

The way that your document should be formatted depends on the kind of essay you are writing. Be sure to check with your teacher about the formatting requirements for your essay.

As a standard formatting guide, you should always use a 12-point serif typeface and have a line spacing of 2.0.

Moreover, make sure you are proofread and go through the process of continually editing your essay. By making sure that your papers have coherent introductions (or thesis), a well-structured body, and a conclusion, as well as always answering the essay question, you’ll be well on your way to writing an academic essay.

You can always test your skills out in these exciting writing competitions for students which have some amazing prizes.

9. Make Sure You Are Using the Proper Referencing Guide

There are a number of academic referencing styles available for an essay. The academic referencing style you should use will depend on the type of essay you are writing, or the preference of the person marking it.

Be sure that you are using the correct referencing style as this will contribute to your essay looking and sounding more academic.

Finally, please remember…

Proofreading and editing are some of the most important parts to ensure that you have answered the question and satisfied the readers’ attention. By proofreading and editing multiple times, and even employing proofreading services (thanks Mum and Dad!), will lead to your essay sounding and reading in a more academic tone.

Each section should undergo meticulous proofreading, to ensure the correct words, advice, research, dates, and citations are used.

Motivated to learn how to write the best academic essays?

Are you a motivated 13-18-year-old student looking to get ahead of your competition? If you’re a talented writer looking to unlock the secrets to writing then you can attend our creative writing summer school .

We also have an amazing opportunity to be awarded with a 100% scholarship to our award-winning summer programmes. Click the following link if you’re interested in our essay competition ?

Related Content

Tackling homework anxiety: your guide to a calmer study life.

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Choose Your Test

Sat / act prep online guides and tips, how to study for a test: 17 expert tips.

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Other High School

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Do you have a big exam coming up, but you're not sure how to prepare for it? Are you looking to improve your grades or keep them strong but don't know the best way to do this? We're here to help! In this guide, we've compiled the 17 best tips for how to study for a test. No matter what grade you're in or what subject you're studying, these tips will give you ways to study faster and more effectively. If you're tired of studying for hours only to forget everything when it comes time to take a test, follow these tips so you can be well prepared for any exam you take.

How to Study for a Test: General Tips

The four tips below are useful for any test or class you're preparing for. Learn the best way to study for a test from these tips and be prepared for any future exams you take.

#1: Stick to a Study Schedule

If you're having trouble studying regularly, creating a study schedule can be a huge help. Doing something regularly helps your mind get used to it. If you set aside a time to regularly study and stick to it, it'll eventually become a habit that's (usually) easy to stick to. Getting into a fixed habit of studying will help you improve your concentration and mental stamina over time. And, just like any other training, your ability to study will improve with time and effort.

Take an honest look at your schedule (this includes schoolwork, extracurriculars, work, etc.) and decide how often you can study without making your schedule too packed. Aim for at least an hour twice a week. Next, decide when you want to study, such as Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays from 7-8pm, and stick to your schedule . In the beginning, you may need to tweak your schedule, but you'll eventually find the study rhythm that works best for you. The important thing is that you commit to it and study during the same times each week as often as possible.

#2: Start Studying Early and Study for Shorter Periods

Some people can cram for several hours the night before the test and still get a good grade. However, this is rarer than you may hope. Most people need to see information several times, over a period of time, for them to really commit it to memory. This means that, instead of doing a single long study session, break your studying into smaller sessions over a longer period of time. Five one-hour study sessions over a week will be less stressful and more effective than a single five-hour cram session. It may take a bit of time for you to learn how long and how often you need to study for a class, but once you do you'll be able to remember the information you need and reduce some of the stress that comes from schoolwork, tests, and studying.

#3: Remove Distractions

When you're studying, especially if it's for a subject you don't enjoy, it can be extremely tempting to take "quick breaks" from your work. There are untold distractions all around us that try to lure our concentration away from the task at hand. However, giving in to temptation can be an awful time suck. A quick glance at your phone can easily turn into an hour of wasting time on the internet, and that won't help you get the score you're looking for. In order to avoid distractions, remove distractions completely from your study space.

Eat a meal or a snack before you begin studying so you're not tempted to rummage through the fridge as a distraction. Silence your phone and keep it in an entirely different room. If you're studying on a computer, turn your WIFI off if it's not essential to have. Make a firm rule that you can't get up to check on whatever has you distracted until your allotted study time is up.

#4: Reward Yourself When You Hit a Milestone

To make studying a little more fun, give yourself a small reward whenever you hit a study milestone. For example, you might get to eat a piece of candy for every 25 flashcards you test yourself on, or get to spend 10 minutes on your phone for every hour you spend studying. You can also give yourself larger rewards for longer-term goals, such as going out to ice cream after a week of good study habits. Studying effectively isn't always easy, and by giving yourself rewards, you'll keep yourself motivated.

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Our pets are not the only ones who deserve rewards.

Tips for Learning and Remembering Information

While the default method of studying is reading through class notes, this is actually one of the least effective ways of learning and remembering information. In this section we cover four much more useful methods. You'll notice they all involve active learning, where you're actively reworking the material, rather than just passively reading through notes. Active studying has been shown to be a much more effective way to understand and retain information, and it's what we recommend for any test you're preparing for.

#5: Rewrite the Material in Your Own Words

It can be easy to get lost in a textbook and look back over a page, only to realize you don't remember anything about what you just read. Fortunately, there's a way to avoid this.

For any class that requires lots of reading, be sure to stop periodically as you read. Pause at the end of a paragraph/page/chapter (how much you can read at once and still remember clearly will likely depend on the material you're reading) and—without looking!—think about what the text just stated. Re-summarize it in your own words, and write down bullet points if that helps. Now, glance back over the material and make sure you summarized the information accurately and included all the important details. Take note of whatever you missed, then pick up your reading where you left off.

Whether you choose to summarize the text aloud or write down notes, re-wording the text is a very effective study tool. By rephrasing the text in your own words, you're ensuring you're actually remembering the information and absorbing its meaning, rather than just moving your eyes across a page without taking in what you're reading.

#6: Make Flashcards

Flashcards are a popular study tool for good reason! They're easy to make, easy to carry around, easy to pull out for a quick study session, and they're a more effective way of studying than just reading through pages of notes. Making your own flashcards is especially effective because you'll remember more information just through the act of writing it down on the cards. For any subjects in which you must remember connections between terms and information, such as formulas, vocabulary, equations, or historical dates, flashcards are the way to go. We recommend using the Waterfall Method when you study with flashcards since it's the fastest way to learn all the material on the cards.

#7: Teach the Material to Someone Else

Teaching someone else is a great way to organize the information you've been studying and check your grasp of it. It also often shows you that you know more of the material than you think! Find a study-buddy, or a friend/relative/pet or even just a figurine or stuffed animal and explain the material to them as if they're hearing about it for the first time. Whether the person you're teaching is real or not, teaching material aloud requires you to re-frame the information in new ways and think more carefully about how all the elements fit together. The act of running through the material in this new way also helps you more easily lock it in your mind.

#8: Make Your Own Study Guides

Even if your teacher provides you with study guides, we highly recommend making your own study materials. Just making the materials will help the information sink into your mind, and when you make your own study guides, you can customize them to the way you learn best, whether that's flashcards, images, charts etc. For example, if you're studying for a biology test, you can draw your own cell and label the components, make a Krebs cycle diagram, map out a food chain, etc. If you're a visual learner (or just enjoy adding images to your study materials), include pictures and diagrams.

Sometimes making your own charts and diagrams will mean recreating the ones in your textbook from memory, and sometimes it will mean putting different pieces of information together yourself. Whatever the diagram type and whatever the class, writing your information down and making pictures out of it will be a great way to help you remember the material.

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How to Study for a History Test

History tests are notorious for the amount of facts and dates you need to know. Make it easier to retain the information by using these two tips.

#9: Know Causes and Effects

It's easy and tempting to simply review long lists of dates of important events, but this likely won't be enough for you to do well on a history test, especially if it has any writing involved. Instead of only learning the important dates of, say, WWI, focus on learning the factors that led to the war and what its lasting impacts on the world were. By understanding the cause and effects of major events, you'll be able to link them to the larger themes you're learning in history class. Also, having more context about an event can often make it easier to remember little details and dates that go along with it.

#10: Make Your Own Timelines

Sometimes you need to know a lot of dates for a history test. In these cases, don't think passively reading your notes is enough. Unless you have an amazing memory, it'll take you a long time for all those dates to sink into your head if you only read through a list of them. Instead, make your own timeline.

Make your first timeline very neat, with all the information you need to know organized in a way that makes sense to you (this will typically be chronologically, but you may also choose to organize it by theme). Make this timeline as clear and helpful as you can, using different colors, highlighting important information, drawing arrows to connecting information, etc. Then, after you've studied enough to feel you have a solid grasp of the dates, rewrite your timeline from memory. This one doesn't have to be neat and organized, but include as much information as you remember. Continue this pattern of studying and writing timelines from memory until you have all the information memorized.

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Know which direction events occur in to prepare for history tests.

How to Study for a Math Test

Math tests can be particularly intimating to many students, but if you're well-prepared for them, they're often straightforward.

#11: Redo Homework Problems

More than most tests, math tests usually are quite similar to the homework problems you've been doing. This means your homework contains dozens of practice problems you can work through. Try to review practice problems from every topic you'll be tested on, and focus especially on problems that you struggled with. Remember, don't just review how you solved the problem the first time. Instead, rewrite the problem, hide your notes, and solve it from scratch. Check your answer when you're finished. That'll ensure you're committing the information to memory and actually have a solid grasp of the concepts.

#12: Make a Formula Sheet

You're likely using a lot of formulas in your math class, and it can be hard remembering what they are and when to use them. Throughout the year, as you learn a new important formula, add it to a formula sheet you've created. For each formula, write out the formula, include any notes about when to use it, and include a sample problem that uses the formula. When your next math test rolls around, you'll have a useful guide to the key information you've been learning.

How to Study for an English Test

Whether your English test involves writing or not, here are two tips to follow as you prepare for it.

#13: Take Notes as You Read

When you're assigned reading for English class, it can be tempting to get through the material as quickly as possible and then move on to something else. However, this is not a good way to retain information, and come test day, you may be struggling to remember a lot of what you read. Highlighting important passages is also too passive a way to study. The way to really retain the information you read is to take notes. This takes more time and effort, but it'll help you commit the information to memory. Plus, when it comes time to study, you'll have a handy study guide ready and won't have to frantically flip through the book to try to remember what you read. The more effort you put into your notes, the more helpful they'll be. Consider organizing them by theme, character, or however else makes sense to you.

#14: Create Sample Essay Outlines

If the test you're taking requires you to write an essay, one of the best ways to be prepared is to develop essay outlines as you study. First, think about potential essay prompts your teacher might choose you to write about. Consider major themes, characters, plots, literary comparisons, etc., you discussed in class, and write down potential essay prompts. Just doing this will get you thinking critically about the material and help you be more prepared for the test.

Next, write outlines for the prompts you came up with (or, if you came up with a lot of prompts, choose the most likely to outline). These outlines don't need to contain much information, just your thesis and a few key points for each body paragraph. Even if your teacher chooses a different prompt than what you came up with, just thinking about what to write about and how you'll organize your thoughts will help you be more prepared for the test.

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Fancy pen and ink not required to write essay outlines.

What to Do the Night Before the Test

Unfortunately, the night before a test is when many students make study choices that actually hurt their chances of getting a good grade. These three tips will help you do some final review in a way that helps you be at the top of your game the next day.

#15: Get Enough Sleep

One of the absolute best ways to prepare for a test-any test-is to be well-rested when you sit down to take it. Staying up all night cramming information isn't an effective way of studying, and being tired the next day can seriously impact your test-taking skills. Aim to get a solid eight hours of sleep the night before the test so that you can wake up refreshed and at the top of your test-taking game.

#16: Review Major Concepts

It can be tempting to try to go through all your notes the night before a test to review as much information as possible, but this will likely only leave you stressed to and overwhelmed by the information you're trying to remember. If you've been regularly reviewing information throughout the class, you shouldn't need much more than a quick review of major ideas, and perhaps a few smaller details you have difficulty remembering. Even if you've gotten behind on studying and are trying to review a lot of information, resist the information to cram and focus on only a few major topics. By keeping your final night review manageable, you have a better chance of committing that information to memory, and you'll avoid lack of sleep from late night cramming.

#17: Study Right Before You Go to Sleep

Studies have shown that if you review material right before you go to sleep, you have better memory recall the next day. (This is also true if you study the information right when you wake up.) This doesn't mean you should cram all night long (remember tip #15), but if there are a few key pieces of information you especially want to review or are having trouble committing to memory, review them right before you go to bed. Sweet dreams!

Summary: The Best Way to Study for a Test

If you're not sure how to study for a test effectively, you might end up wasting hours of time only to find that you've barely learned anything at all. Overall, the best way to study for a test, whether you want to know how to study for a math test or how to study for a history test, is to study regularly and practice active learning. Cramming information and trying to remember things just by looking over notes will rarely get you the score you want. Even though the tips we suggest do take time and effort on your part, they'll be worth it when you get the score you're working towards.

What's Next?

Want tips specifically on how to study for AP exams? We've outlined the f ive steps you need to follow to ace your AP classes.

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Christine graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in Environmental Biology and Geography and received her Master's from Duke University. In high school she scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT and was named a National Merit Finalist. She has taught English and biology in several countries.

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Top 10 Study Tips to Study Like a Harvard Student

Adjusting to a demanding college workload might be a challenge, but these 10 study tips can help you stay prepared and focused.

Lian Parsons

The introduction to a new college curriculum can seem overwhelming, but optimizing your study habits can boost your confidence and success both in and out of the classroom. 

Transitioning from high school to the rigor of college studies can be overwhelming for many students, and finding the best way to study with a new course load can seem like a daunting process. 

Effective study methods work because they engage multiple ways of learning. As Jessie Schwab, psychologist and preceptor at the Harvard College Writing Program, points out, we tend to misjudge our own learning. Being able to recite memorized information is not the same as actually retaining it. 

“One thing we know from decades of cognitive science research is that learners are often bad judges of their own learning,” says Schwab. “Memorization seems like learning, but in reality, we probably haven’t deeply processed that information enough for us to remember it days—or even hours—later.”

Planning ahead and finding support along the way are essential to your success in college. This blog will offer study tips and strategies to help you survive (and thrive!) in your first college class. 

1. Don’t Cram! 

It might be tempting to leave all your studying for that big exam up until the last minute, but research suggests that cramming does not improve longer term learning. 

Students may perform well on a test for which they’ve crammed, but that doesn’t mean they’ve truly learned the material, says an article from the American Psychological Association . Instead of cramming, studies have shown that studying with the goal of long-term retention is best for learning overall.   

2. Plan Ahead—and Stick To It! 

Having a study plan with set goals can help you feel more prepared and can give you a roadmap to follow. Schwab said procrastination is one mistake that students often make when transitioning to a university-level course load. 

“Oftentimes, students are used to less intensive workloads in high school, so one of my biggest pieces of advice is don’t cram,” says Schwab. “Set yourself a study schedule ahead of time and stick to it.”

3. Ask for Help

You don’t have to struggle through difficult material on your own. Many students are not used to seeking help while in high school, but seeking extra support is common in college.

As our guide to pursuing a biology major explains, “Be proactive about identifying areas where you need assistance and seek out that assistance immediately. The longer you wait, the more difficult it becomes to catch up.”

There are multiple resources to help you, including your professors, tutors, and fellow classmates. Harvard’s Academic Resource Center offers academic coaching, workshops, peer tutoring, and accountability hours for students to keep you on track.  

4. Use the Buddy System 

Your fellow students are likely going through the same struggles that you are. Reach out to classmates and form a study group to go over material together, brainstorm, and to support each other through challenges.

Having other people to study with means you can explain the material to one another, quiz each other, and build a network you can rely on throughout the rest of the class—and beyond. 

5. Find Your Learning Style

It might take a bit of time (and trial and error!) to figure out what study methods work best for you. There are a variety of ways to test your knowledge beyond simply reviewing your notes or flashcards. 

Schwab recommends trying different strategies through the process of metacognition. Metacognition involves thinking about your own cognitive processes and can help you figure out what study methods are most effective for you. 

Schwab suggests practicing the following steps:

  • Before you start to read a new chapter or watch a lecture, review what you already know about the topic and what you’re expecting to learn.
  • As you read or listen, take additional notes about new information, such as related topics the material reminds you of or potential connections to other courses. Also note down questions you have.
  • Afterward, try to summarize what you’ve learned and seek out answers to your remaining questions. 

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6. Take Breaks

The brain can only absorb so much information at a time. According to the National Institutes of Health , research has shown that taking breaks in between study sessions boosts retention. 

Studies have shown that wakeful rest plays just as important a role as practice in learning a new skill. Rest allows our brains to compress and consolidate memories of what we just practiced. 

Make sure that you are allowing enough time, relaxation, and sleep between study sessions so your brain will be refreshed and ready to accept new information.

7. Cultivate a Productive Space

Where you study can be just as important as how you study. 

Find a space that is free of distractions and has all the materials and supplies you need on hand. Eat a snack and have a water bottle close by so you’re properly fueled for your study session. 

8. Reward Yourself

Studying can be mentally and emotionally exhausting and keeping your stamina up can be challenging.

Studies have shown that giving yourself a reward during your work can increase the enjoyment and interest in a given task.

According to an article for Science Daily , studies have shown small rewards throughout the process can help keep up motivation, rather than saving it all until the end. 

Next time you finish a particularly challenging study session, treat yourself to an ice cream or  an episode of your favorite show.

9. Review, Review, Review

Practicing the information you’ve learned is the best way to retain information. 

Researchers Elizabeth and Robert Bjork have argued that “desirable difficulties” can enhance learning. For example, testing yourself with flashcards is a more difficult process than simply reading a textbook, but will lead to better long-term learning. 

“One common analogy is weightlifting—you have to actually “exercise those muscles” in order to ultimately strengthen your memories,” adds Schwab.

10. Set Specific Goals

Setting specific goals along the way of your studying journey can show how much progress you’ve made. Psychology Today recommends using the SMART method:

  • Specific: Set specific goals with an actionable plan, such as “I will study every day between 2 and 4 p.m. at the library.”  
  • Measurable: Plan to study a certain number of hours or raise your exam score by a certain percent to give you a measurable benchmark.
  • Realistic: It’s important that your goals be realistic so you don’t get discouraged. For example, if you currently study two hours per week, increase the time you spend to three or four hours rather than 10.
  • Time-specific: Keep your goals consistent with your academic calendar and your other responsibilities.

Using a handful of these study tips can ensure that you’re getting the most out of the material in your classes and help set you up for success for the rest of your academic career and beyond. 

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About the Author

Lian Parsons is a Boston-based writer and journalist. She is currently a digital content producer at Harvard’s Division of Continuing Education. Her bylines can be found at the Harvard Gazette, Boston Art Review, Radcliffe Magazine, Experience Magazine, and iPondr.

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40+ Study Tips to Help You Work Smarter This Semester

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study tips essay

Though you’ve likely been studying since at least kindergarten, how often do you stop to think about why you study the way you do?

With a bit of examination, you’ll realize that you could probably improve the way you study.

However, you’re busy enough as it is without adding a class called “study skills.” To save you time, we’ve put together a list of our most useful study tips.

While you’ve likely heard some of them before, there are probably at least a few you haven’t considered. And even if you have heard a study tip before, you could likely do a better job of applying it (we all could).

So without further ado, here are the very best study tips out there. We hope they make your studies more efficient, effective, and even enjoyable.

Put your classes on your calendar

Have you ever missed an important lecture, presentation, or class discussion because you forgot class was happening? It’s easier to do than most of us would like to admit, especially with all the other demands college can place on your time.

To make sure you never forget a class again, put each class on your calendar as a recurring event. If you’re not sure how to do this, check out our guide to efficient calendar use . Also, be watch for any changes to the class schedule and update your calendar accordingly.

Put your homework on a to-do list

Your calendar is a great tool for keeping track of your busy schedule, but what about specific, day-to-day assignments? For this, I recommend using a task management app such as Todoist .

When you put your homework assignments on a to-do list, you’re much less likely to forget them. Plus, you get the satisfaction of crossing off each assignment after it’s done.

For more advice on setting up a task management system, check out our guide to staying organized in college .

Have a study space

Where do you study? Your dorm room? The library? Lying in your bed? The place you study matters more than you think. Having a dedicated study space will help you avoid distractions and signal to your brain that it’s time to learn.

We have an entire guide on creating a study space (including examples from real students). But, in general, find a space that will let you focus for long periods of time, has all the supplies you need, and is free of interruptions.

The details will vary based on your preferences. I need quiet and isolation to do my best work, so in college I usually opted for a secluded place in the library basement.

But some people prefer working with background noise or activity, meaning a coffee shop or the student center common area might be a better choice.

More than anything, think about the conditions that help you study best and find a space that fits them.

Schedule time for homework

Let’s face it: there are dozens of things you’d rather be doing than homework. But homework is key to truly learning and retaining the material, especially for subjects with too much content for the professor to cover in class.

With most assignments, the biggest challenge is often getting started. Instead of leaving this up to your willpower, schedule time to do your homework.

You’ll have to experiment with how much time to plan for each class. But the act of putting homework time on your calendar and “showing up” the same way you would to an appointment will make it easier to get started.

Plus, it can remove some of the dread that comes from not knowing how long an assignment will take to complete.

Use the Pomodoro technique to avoid procrastination

While scheduling time to do homework will help with general procrastination, sometimes you’ll come across an assignment that feels like a slog. For some people, it will be research papers; for others, reading assignments or problem sets.

Whatever it is for you, the Pomodoro technique can help you overcome your resistance and power through the hard work.

We discuss the Pomodoro technique at length here , but the gist of it is this:

  • Pick one assignment to complete
  • Set a timer for 25 minutes
  • Work on only that assignment until the timer is up
  • Take short breaks in between sessions (usually 5 or 10 minutes)
  • Repeat the process until you’ve finished the assignment

With a proper productivity system, nothing ever slips through the cracks. In just one hour, you'll learn how to set up your to-do list, calendar, note-taking system, file management, and more — the smart way.

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Remember Parkinson’s law

Parkinson’s law states that work expands to fill the time allotted. This is somewhat unintuitive, as we tend to assume that an assignment will take “as long as it takes.”

But with Parkinson’s law, we realize that we can (somewhat) influence how long a task takes by adjusting the amount of time we schedule to complete it.

You’ve likely experienced Parkinson’s law in practice when you’re finishing an assignment at the last minute. You write that 10-page essay a few hours before it’s due because you have no choice, even if it would normally take you twice that amount of time.

While I don’t recommend waiting until the last minute to finish assignments, you can still use Parkinson’s law to spend less time on work.

If you think it will take you 2 hours to complete a set of problems, see if you can do it in an hour. Even if it ends up taking you longer than that, the very act of attempting to finish it faster will likely reduce the amount of time it takes.

Keep a distraction log

Do you struggle with distracting random thoughts or ideas while you’re working?

Maybe, in the midst of your calculus homework, you remember that you need to schedule a meeting for a club you’re part of. Or, while doing your philosophy reading, you recall that one of your library books will soon be overdue.

How do you prevent these random (but often important) thoughts from derailing your study session?

The best technique we’ve found is to keep a distraction log. This is a piece of paper next to you where you can write down any thoughts that occur to you while studying.

Writing down these random thoughts gets them out of your head, freeing up space in your working memory. Plus, it lets you act on them later when you have a chance to add them to your to-do list, calendar, etc.

Take breaks while studying

I already alluded to this in the section on the Pomodoro technique, but be sure to take breaks while you’re studying. This practice has several benefits.

First, taking breaks keeps your study sessions effective. No matter how long your attention span, there’s a limit to how long you can truly focus on difficult concepts or complex mental tasks. Taking short breaks lets your mind rest and then return refreshed once you resume.

Additionally, taking a break gives you a chance to stretch and move your body. Even if you’re working at a standing desk , staying fixed in one position for too long is still unhealthy. Getting your blood flowing will help you keep from getting tired or losing focus, as well as keeping you generally healthy.

Finally, taking a break can give your unconscious mind a chance to work on difficult problems . While there is a lot of power in actively concentrating on how to solve a problem, sometimes it’s better to let the question percolate in the back of your mind. When you return to studying, you may be surprised at how obvious the solution now seems.

Take notes as you read

You’re probably used to taking notes during lectures, but how often do you take notes while doing assigned reading?

While it can seem like a lot of extra work, taking notes as you read can save you time in the long run.

If you take notes as you read, it will be much faster to study for exams or come up with material for essays. This is because you won’t waste time re-reading the textbook (which, aside from taking lots of time, isn’t a very effective way to study).

Plus, taking notes as you read forces you to engage with and think about the material, helping you to internalize it more deeply than if you were just looking at the words on the page.

Take notes on paper

While we’re discussing note-taking, I encourage you to take notes on paper if you can. A 2014 study published in Psychological Science found that students who took notes on laptops didn’t do as well on tests of conceptual understanding compared to students who took notes by hand.

The study’s authors speculate this disparity in performance occurred because taking notes on a laptop makes it easier to transcribe what a professor says verbatim. When you write by hand, in contrast, the slower speed forces you to summarize and put concepts in your own words, which leads to better understanding.

To be clear, I do think your computer is an excellent place for storing and organizing your notes. But you’re better off using your phone to scan your notes later (or typing them up by hand) than taking digital notes from the start.

Focus on understanding concepts, not memorizing facts

One of the key differences between college and high school is that there’s less focus on memorization and more on conceptual understanding.

For instance, a high school history class might require you to memorize lots of dates and names of people and then reproduce them on a test.

A college history class, in contrast, will be less concerned about memorizing when/what happened and more about analyzing historical trends or cause and effect.

If you’re only accustomed to memorizing information and regurgitating it on a test, this new mindset can take some getting used to.

Your professor will likely give you an idea of what they expect you to understand for exams, which can help you adjust your studies accordingly. But, in general, be sure to spend time learning the concepts behind the subject in addition to rote memorization.

Test your understanding with the Feynman technique

One of the best techniques for testing your conceptual understanding is the Feynman technique . Popularized by Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman, this technique will help you determine if you truly understand a topic (as opposed to just knowing the name or idea of it).

First, get a sheet of paper and write the name of the topic at the top. Next, write as simple (yet comprehensive) of an explanation as you can. Imagine you’re explaining it to someone who knows nothing about the topic.

Once you’ve written your explanation, compare it to your notes or the textbook. Look for gaps in your understanding, as well as places where you’ve used unnecessary technical language. Now, re-write the explanation to include any information you missed and to simplify any jargon.

If you use this process as part of your studies, you’ll be much better prepared for exams, class discussions, and other forms of assessment.

Use “rubber ducking” when you’re stuck on a problem

The Feynman technique is great for reviewing material for an exam, but what about when you’re struggling to solve a homework problem? Another helpful tool you can use is “rubber ducking.”

Popular among programmers for debugging code , rubber ducking means explaining code, line-by-line, to an inanimate object such as a rubber duck. In the process of explaining what the code is supposed to do, the programmer will often arrive at the solution.

While you can certainly apply this if you’re studying programming, I’ve found it to be helpful for any time I’m stuck on a problem.

If I can’t figure out how to express a certain idea in writing, for example, I’ll explain it out loud as if talking to a friend. You can also use rubber ducking for math or science problems, talking through your current solution line-by-line and seeing if it helps you reach a breakthrough.

Don’t expect to immediately understand new material

College-level classes often introduce you to material you’ve never studied before. This could be a subject that wasn’t offered in high school (such as geology or philosophy) or more advanced topics that high school classes don’t cover.

Regardless, you may find yourself thinking, “This makes no sense to me, I must be stupid.”

However, this mindset is flawed. Just because you don’t immediately understand new material, that doesn’t mean you’re stupid. Furthermore, it doesn’t mean you’re incapable of understanding it. Rather, it just means you need to put in more time and effort to grasp it.

College classes often involve studying concepts that are unintuitive or completely unfamiliar. But just as you didn’t learn to read or subtract in one day (or even month), you may need more than a few days (or weeks) to grasp new college-level material. View this as part of the learning journey, rather than a reflection of your intelligence.

Reward yourself with “high-density fun”

When we discuss how to study, we often focus on what happens during the study session.

But it’s just as important to take time outside of your studies to have fun and relax. Of course, this reduces stress. But it can also motivate you, giving you something to look forward to when you’re done studying.

To make sure you’re truly rewarding yourself, however, we recommend scheduling “high-density fun.” These are activities that truly excite you, rather than just killing a few minutes here or there.

It’s the difference between taking breaks while you work to scroll Instagram (low-density fun) and scheduling a DnD session after you finish your homework (high-density fun).

The definition of high-density fun will vary depending on your interests. But whatever it means to you, make sure to get some of it in your life each day (and especially after intense study sessions).

Don’t cram for exams

Cramming is a popular study method, but I don’t recommend it. While it’s possible to jam enough information into your head in one night that you can pass an exam, doing so is both ineffective and unnecessarily stressful.

Based on our understanding of how memory works , you should ideally spread your studies out over multiple sessions across multiple days (or even weeks). This will give your brain time to absorb information and commit it to long-term memory.

Plus, spreading out your studies will give you time to focus on the concepts you understand least and spend time quizzing yourself (instead of scanning the same set of notes over and over). Cramming the night before an exam leaves time for none of these activities.

Furthermore, cramming is stressful. Instead of focusing on learning material, there’s a nagging feeling of fear in the back of your mind that you won’t be able to remember enough. Plus, you’re likely to be anxious when you show up for the test, which can further hurt your performance.

Don’t pull all-nighters

I like to think of all-nighters as Parkinson’s law taken to unrealistic extremes.

Even if you can finish a project or paper in one night, it’s unlikely to be your best work.

And, as with cramming, all-nighters introduce excessive stress into your life.

Finally, operating on no sleep means you’ll be less effective at whatever you attempt the day after your all-nighter. This is especially bad news if you happen to pull an all-nighter before an exam.

Luckily, all-nighters are easy to avoid. If you keep a calendar of all your due dates and plan to start working on a project a few days (or weeks) before it’s due, you’ll have enough time to complete assignments without resorting to sleep deprivation.

Use the library

As the ads for my local library used to say, “Books are only half the story.” The same is true of your college’s library system. While the library is a great place to study or check out a book for class, it’s also a useful resource for all kinds of academic work.

Particularly if you’re writing a research paper , the library staff can be immensely helpful. My college’s library let you book “research consultations,” in which a librarian would work with you one-on-one to help find useful sources for all kinds of projects.

Your library likely has something similar, and I strongly encourage you to use it. Don’t be intimidated by the librarians; it’s their job to help you.

Use the right music to help you focus

Music can be an extremely powerful tool for focusing on assignments . However, it’s key to choose the right music.

Part of this is a matter of preference and experimentation.

One person might find classical music to be an amazing focus tool, while another might find it puts them to sleep. And some people will love the energy that heavy metal brings to the studying process, while others might find it distracting. Try different genres and see what works for you.

On the other hand, you can also turn to specialized resources for more help. Brain.fm , for instance, uses music created by AI to help induce (and maintain) deep focus. And our study playlist , while less high-tech, is carefully curated to include tracks that will help you hone in on your assignment.

Finally, if music is too distracting, then don’t use it while you study. There’s no rule saying you have to.

Rehearse presentations

Does giving a presentation to the class fill you with dread? Likely, you just need some rehearsal.

First, you need to create your presentation far enough in advance that you have time to rehearse it (another benefit of not cramming).

Then, you should practice it out loud , ideally in a setting similar to the place you’ll be giving the real presentation. Your library likely has study rooms you can reserve for such purposes, though a dorm room can also work in a pinch.

For even more realistic practice, give the presentation to a friend or group of friends. Offer to let them rehearse their presentations for you in exchange (obviously, this works best if your friends are in the same class).

If you take some time to rehearse, then you’ll be much less anxious (and give a much better presentation) when the real thing arrives.

Simulate exam conditions to reduce test anxiety

Just as rehearsing a presentation can help you be less nervous, simulating the conditions of your next exam can help calm test anxiety. By “conditions,” I mean the setting, time limit, and even format of the exam.

If you can mimic all of these when you’re taking practice exams or quizzing yourself, then you’ll be much less anxious when the real exam comes.

Try to get as close to the real exam as you can. Here are some ideas:

  • See if you can work on practice questions in the same room (or a similar room) as where you’ll take the exam.
  • Work with a timer set to the actual length of the exam (this will also help you with pacing).
  • Gather as much information as you can about the exam’s format so that you can work on the right kinds of practice questions.

If you do all of the above, then you’ll be able to focus on performing your best, not on the anxiety that comes from the unknown. For more help with test anxiety, read this guide .

Go to office hours

Your professor has office hours for one reason: to help you succeed in class. It’s in your best interest, therefore, to attend them.

Even if you aren’t struggling in a class, attending office hours is a chance to get to know your professor and show that you care about their subject.

And if you are struggling, then office hours are invaluable. However, you need to approach them the right way.

Don’t go to office hours with vague requests such as, “Help me understand this subject.” Instead, you should prepare specific questions in advance, such as:

  • “How do I solve this particular equation?”
  • “Is this a good list of sources for the upcoming research paper?”
  • “Can we practice the French subjunctive tense?”

This way, you’ll make the most of your (and your professor’s) limited time.

Use the learning center and tutoring services

Office hours are a great place to get help, but sometimes they aren’t enough. Your professor probably doesn’t have enough time to regularly work with you one-on-one. Or, you may feel more comfortable getting help from another student.

If either is the case, then you should visit your college’s learning or tutoring center. There, you can arrange to regularly meet with a tutor who can help you with all manner of academic matters.

In addition, your college may have a “writing center” or “math center” where you can make an appointment or even drop in to get homework help.

Using these resources doesn’t make you less intelligent; on the contrary, it would be foolish not to use them.

Use third-party study resources

Are you struggling to understand a particular concept, even after going to office hours or working with a tutor?

While some things just take time to grasp, you can also get extra practice with third-party study resources. Your professor may already recommend some of these in their syllabus, but don’t be afraid to seek them out yourself.

However, be sure that you’re using high-quality resources. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Crash Course – Free, professionally produced lectures on pretty much any “gen ed” class you might be taking (plus more specialized topics such as organic chemistry).
  • Khan Academy – Crash Course is great for understanding general concepts, but Khan Academy is the place to go if you need help with calculations or more specific questions.
  • Symbolab – An online tool that can solve any math problem and show you free, step-by-step solutions. Be sure to use it only after you’ve done your best to solve the problem on your own, not as a substitute for studying.
  • Better Explained – A website that teaches math concepts (from trigonometry to vector calculus) using intuition, not memorization. Pair with Khan Academy for best results.
  • Chegg Study – Need step-by-step solutions to problems in your textbook? Want to chat with a subject matter expert about your homework? Chegg Study will let you do both.

Approach group study with care

For some people (and some subjects) studying in groups is very helpful. Particularly if you’re all struggling to understand a new concept, then drawing on collective knowledge and problem solving skills can make finishing homework (or preparing for an exam) much easier.

However, be sure to balance group study sessions with solo practice and review. Unless you’re working on a group project, you alone will be responsible for understanding the material when it’s time to take the exam or write the final paper. When you only study in a group setting, it’s easy to develop illusions of competence .

Like studying in groups but are stuck at home? Use our “study with me” video for some companionship.

Use flashcards to memorize large volumes of information

While I mentioned earlier that college classes tend to focus less on rote memorization, there will still be cases where you have to memorize equations, processes, reactions, or even historical events. If you find yourself in such a situation, flashcards are your best friend.

Assuming you give yourself enough time and use the right memorization techniques , you can use flashcards to learn massive amounts of information. And if you use a spaced repetition app such as Anki , you can make the process even more efficient.

Learn more about the best ways to make (and study) flashcards .

Avoid comparing yourself to other students

Assuming your college uses traditional letter grades, it’s easy to compare your performance to that of other students. And even beyond grades, you may hear fellow students discussing how “easy” an exam was or how “simple” the concepts in the day’s lecture were.

If you thought the exam was impossible and the lecture incomprehensible, don’t beat yourself up. Everyone has different strengths, and people learn at different paces. Your learning journey is ultimately a personal one, and comparing yourself to other students won’t help you learn.

Get your study materials ready the night before class

Despite our admonitions to get enough sleep , there will still be nights when you stay up late to finish homework (or even get in one more Smash Bros session).

Given this reality, the last thing you want to do in the morning is run around your room frantically looking for the textbook you need for your 8 AM class.

To avoid this stress, prepare your study materials the night before. Find the textbooks, notebooks, writing utensils, and whatever else you need, and put them in your backpack. Then, drift off to sleep with the blissful knowledge you’re prepared for the day to come.

Wondering what you should keep in your backpack? We’ve got your covered .

Put your phone away while studying

Do you check your texts or scroll your social feeds every few minutes while studying? If so, I recommend changing the way you study.

Your phone is a huge source of distraction , and checking it compulsively means it will take you longer to finish whatever you’re supposed to be working on.

Instead, put your phone away. Ideally, put it physically out of reach, either in a different room or at least in your bag. If that’s not practical, then install an app such as Forest , which will reward you for not touching your phone.

Building habits isn’t just about discipline; there are real-world steps you can take to set yourself up for success! In this course, you'll learn how to set realistic goals, handle failure without giving up, and get going on the habits you want in your life.

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Use mind maps to aid brainstorming

If you’re in a class (or major) that requires you to write a lot of essays, one of your biggest challenges is likely coming up with topic ideas. One of the most helpful techniques I’ve found for overcoming this “topic block” is making mind maps.

With a mind map, you draw a circle (or whatever shape you like) in the center of a piece of paper with a general topic.

Then, you draw branching lines out from the central circle connected to smaller circles. In each of these smaller circles, you write a more specific topic or idea.

expanded mindmap

After you repeat this process a few times, you’re likely to come up with at least one or two good topics that you can refine into an essay.

If you’re skeptical, give it a try. There’s a certain magic to the process, something about getting your hand moving that leads to unexpected ideas.

Use flat outlines to speed up essay writing

I’m a big believer in creating outlines for any lengthy piece of writing. However, the outlining technique I used in college (and still use today) is a bit different than the strict, hierarchical outlines you probably learned to write in middle or high school.

Instead of such a rigid outline, I use what Cal Newport calls a “ flat outline .”

Here’s how flat outlining works:

  • Make a list of topics you want to cover in a paper
  • Research each topic, finding quotes related to them
  • Drop your supporting quotes into a list under each topic
  • From there, it’s just a matter of shaping that collection of quotes and topics into a full draft

This technique works because it recognizes that writing is a process of discovery. You don’t really know what you’ll say in a paper until you start writing it.

The flat outline aids you in the process of discovery by giving you quotes and general ideas as a starting point for your final draft. As a result, you spend less time outlining and more time writing.

For more tips on speeding up essay writing (without sacrificing quality), see this guide .

Beware of plagiarism

As I’m sure your teachers have been telling you since you started doing any kind of research, plagiarism is a serious matter. I won’t beat you over the head with all the reasons plagiarism is wrong; you already know that.

However, I will give you some tips for avoiding it. First, always cite a source if you have any doubts. It’s better to have too many citations than to risk plagiarism.

Second, use a third-party tool such as Quetext to check your paper for potential plagiarism. Your professor will likely use such a tool themselves, so do yourself a favor and beat them to it.

Keep papers to a reasonable length

This one is for all the overachievers out there. While there’s nothing wrong with going “above and beyond” on assignments if you have the time, there’s such a thing as too much.

If a professor says a paper should be 10 pages, try not to exceed that. 11 or even 12 pages is fine, but 20 pages is ridiculous. Not only does this create lots of extra work for your professor, but it could also be a sign that your paper is rambling or unfocused.

Longer ≠ better.

Never underestimate the time it takes to cite sources

This is a lesson I learned the hard way. The night before I planned to turn in my senior thesis, all I had left to do was cite all my sources (in proper MLA format), generate my bibliography, and print the final copy.

Given all the challenging mental work that had gone into writing my thesis, all this citation business would be easy in comparison…or so I thought.

Four hours later, I was still tracking down citations and making sure they were properly formatted. As midnight passed and I finally printed my thesis, I resolved to never underestimate the time citations can take.

Even if you’re working on a shorter paper without scores of sources, be sure to budget some time for the citation process. You’ll be glad you did.

Don’t create bibliographies by hand

While citing sources still requires a certain amount of grunt work, creating bibliographies is thankfully much easier than it used to be. There are now many tools that can take a list of sources and turn it into a properly formatted bibliography or works cited in the citation style of your choice.

Which tool you use doesn’t matter, so long as it’s reputable (your professor can likely provide recommendations).

But, in general, I prefer EasyBib for short papers (under 10 pages) and Zotero for long research papers or theses.

EasyBib is a bit easier to use, making it great for when you’re done writing and just need a bibliography. Zotero, while having more of a learning curve, is a great tool to use during the writing and research processes. Not only can it automatically generate citations, but it can also help you track and reference sources as you’re writing.

Know when you should drop a class

Dropping a class should be a last resort, something you do only after you’ve used all the study resources we’ve mentioned thus far. But sometimes, it’s a smart, strategic decision .

If your grades are consistently low, or you realize that a class is way over your head, then dropping it can be a good way to avoid unnecessary damage to your GPA.

Of course, you shouldn’t take this decision lightly. Talk to your professor and advisor before making a decision. And explore alternatives, such as auditing the class or taking it pass/fail. Also, check if dropping a class will affect your eligibility for any scholarships you have.

Don’t over-study

When you start college, you’re bound to encounter advice that goes something like this:

“For every hour you spend in class, you should spend 2 hours studying outside of class.”

While I think this advice is well-intentioned, aiming to help students avoid taking on too heavy a workload, I also think it’s b.s.

There’s no hard and fast rule for how much studying a class will require. Studying for a class should take as long as you need to understand the material and complete assignments, no more or less.

While this doesn’t excuse you from doing your homework, don’t feel like you aren’t studying “enough” if the week’s assignments take less than the prescribed 2 hours per hour of class. It’s not a competition to see who can spend the most time studying.

Always back up your work

Studying is already enough work without losing an important assignment due to a computer error. Always, always, always back up your work.

At a minimum, this means writing in a program like Google Docs, which automatically saves your work to the cloud. However, I also recommend keeping copies of important assignments on your computer in case you’re without internet access (a common problem in lecture halls).

Finally, for extra safety, consider creating a remote backup of your hard drive with a service such as Backblaze .

Backblaze runs in the background and automatically backs up everything on your computer to a remote server. This ensures you can quickly recover your data if your computer crashes, gets stolen, or dies a death by spilled coffee.

Don’t obsess over grades

Grades are a big focus in high school, so it’s normal to enter college very concerned about them.

While you should certainly care about your grades (particularly if you’re looking to attend grad school or keep your scholarships ), don’t obsess over them. Once you graduate and get a job, no one will care about your GPA.

Plus, if getting a job is your goal, then GPA is a minor factor in the scheme of things. Prospective employers will care more about the internships you did , the projects you worked on outside of class, and how well you present yourself in interviews . Don’t focus on grades so much that you forget to be a well-rounded person.

Use project management tools to coordinate group projects

In theory, group projects are a chance to practice the collaboration you’ll do in the workplace. But in practice, they’re often a nightmare in which one or two people do all the work while everyone else slacks off.

To make group projects less painful (and help divide the work evenly), try using a project management app.

I’m using “project management app” in a very broad sense, meaning any app that helps coordinate your group efforts. In many cases, this could be as simple as a shared Google Doc to collaboratively write a paper. Or a shared Google Slides project for a group presentation.

For larger projects (such as those that last all semester), considering using a more serious project management app such as Trello or Asana .

While these apps take a little time to set up and learn, they let you assign tasks to specific group members and keep track of your project’s overall progress. This can help make sure that a large project doesn’t get derailed due to poor organization or coordination.

Take care of your health

Never spend so much time studying that you forget to exercise, eat healthy food, get enough sleep, go outside, or spend time relaxing. While it can seem like a worthwhile tradeoff in the short-term, the damage to your overall quality of life isn’t worth it.

Plus, remember that your brain is part of your body. If you want to perform at your best, then taking care of your health isn’t optional. (Learn more about the connections between health and mental performance in our interview with Dr. John Ratey , author of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain . )

Study Tips Can’t Replace the Hard Work of Studying

As you can now see, there are lots of things you can do to study more effectively, no matter what you’re majoring in or what classes you’re taking.

However, never forget that you still have to do the work. The tips in this article will help you study better, and likely spend less time studying.

But there isn’t some magic pill that will help you learn things instantly, à la Limitless . Ultimately, you still need to put in the time and hard work that studying requires.

Wishing you a productive study session!

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Studying for Essay Exams

  • Can you study for an essay exam? 
  • The challenge of essay exams
  • Study Strategy 1: Create a study guide
  • Study Strategy 2: Try to guess the questions
  • Study Strategy 3: Study from old exams
  • Study Strategy 4: Outline or write possible answers
  • Study Strategy 5: Study in a group

Can you study for an essay exam?

Yes, you can! Many students mistakenly think that, because essay exams focus on analysis rather than memorization, they cannot really “study” for an essay exam. However, essay exams generally require you to pull together information from different parts of the course to create a coherent answer and to support an interpretation with specific examples. That is pretty hard to do well if you haven’t studied the course material! Indeed, there are a number of study strategies that are well-suited to preparing for an essay exam.

The Challenge of Essay Exams

Essay exams require you to interpret a complex and often lengthy question, develop a coherent thesis statement that addresses this question, and write an essay that provides specific evidence to develop and support this thesis. And, it requires you to do all of this under time pressure.

Meeting these challenges will require that you study in ways that will allow you to recognize both the major themes and ideas of the course as well as the specific facts, events, authors, or examples that are associated with those themes.

Study Strategy 1: Create a Study Guide

Essay exams require you to show connections between details, to gather up the specifics and tie them together with the major themes of the course. One of the best ways to prepare for this is to create a study guide.

A study guide is a document that attempts to identify the major themes and synthesize information from different units or weeks of the course. In a study guide, you list information from different units together under thematic categories. Here are some tips on creating a good study guide.

Step 1 : Read through lecture notes and reading notes and list the main themes of the class. This is not a list of facts, dates, events or authors, but of themes and ideas.  For example, in your History 1500, this would NOT be a list of events or dates. It would be themes: terror and the state, religion and terror, technology and terror. In English 1000, your list would NOT be a list of authors or books that you have read. Instead, it would be a list of themes that are common to them: literary techniques, self and society, gender etc.

Step 2 : Now go back and read through your notes again. This time, you are looking for details such as authors, key terms, events, and examples. Use these details to flesh out your study guide and to show how the details build your understanding of the themes.

Sample Study Guide for History 1500

Theme: Religion and Terror

Module: Witch Craze

  • Catholicism and beliefs in white and dark magic
  • The Reformation/Wars of Religion brought social, cultural, and economic disruption, which bred anxiety.
  • Most intense hunting = 1550-1650 (religious wars = c.1540-1648)
  • Proximity to religious tension increases tendency to burn witches

Module: Crusades – List relevant examples

Study Strategy 2: Try to Guess the Questions

When professors write essay questions, they usually review the material they have covered and try to choose topics that will require students to bring together the major themes of the course. By guessing the questions that will be on the exam, you will engage in the same process. Look through your syllabus, lecture and reading notes, and study guide. What concepts or themes have been developed throughout the term? What questions would you ask if you were the professor?

Study Strategy 3: Study from Old Exams

While you are guessing the questions and preparing for an essay exam, it can be very helpful to consult previous exams in the course. While it is unlikely that a professor would use exactly the same questions again on your exam, it can be helpful to get a sense of the types of questions that have been asked in the past. Some professors share old exams with their classes. However, in classes where this is not the case, you can seek out sample questions from your textbook, syllabus, or assignment instructions. There are great online sources of sample questions from textbook publishers, but take caution when searching online. Some sites that crowdsource student work encourage acts of academic dishonesty; students should  never share old exam questions or answers. 

Study Strategy 4: Outline or Write Possible Answers

Trying to identify what questions might be on the exam is, of course, only one part of studying for the exam. You also need to try to create answers to these questions. You can do this by outlining answers. Begin with a clear thesis that addresses the question, and then create a section of the outline that develops each part of your thesis. Finally, add in specific examples that you would use to support your ideas in the appropriate section.

You can also write full answers to the essay questions you devise as you study. The act of writing will help you to remember the material, and although the identical question may not appear on the exam, you will usually be able to employ the connections and supporting details in a response that addresses similar issues.

Study Strategy 5: Study in a Group

One of the best ways to learn material is to talk about it with others. As you do, you deepen your understanding not only by having to explain concepts or themes to others but also by hearing their perspective on the central issues of the course.

While you will ultimately take an exam, and thus need to know course information, on your own, study groups can be a great supplement to independent study activities. Each group member could come prepared with one or two potential exam questions, and then other group members could try to answer them. Or, the entire group could review the course syllabus together and identify central themes or particularly challenging material. Through the process of discussing the information with others, you will increase your understanding and thus be studying for your essay exam.

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Academic and Writing Resources

  • Effective Studying

How to Effectively Study

Research-supported techniques.

Outside of lecture, university students are commonly expected to master course content on their own. However, multiple research studies have found that many university students are commonly unaware of, and seldom use, effective learning techniques. 1,2 In the following section (and the linked pages below) we discuss important do’s and don’ts of successful learning, plus introduce several of the most promising and effective evidence-based learning methods . These are backed by a growing body of learning science research – a substantial portion of which has been conducted right here at UCSD and in this very department. By taking advantage of these methods, students can transform their learning activities to be more efficient (make better use of time) and more effective (resulting in learning that is more comprehensive and lasts longer).

What Students Need to Do to Succeed

Psychology courses, as well as those in many other departments and at other universities, revolve around high-stakes tests (for example, midterms, final exams). In fact, on average, 80% of the course grade in PSYC classes at UCSD is determined by exam performance. 3 In order to perform well on such exams, it is crucial for students to master a wide range of course content.

How can that objective be accomplished? Through the use of evidence-based learning methods. Note that these are not described as “study methods”. Although it is common to describe preparing for an exam as “studying”, which is why this page is titled as such, simply “studying” information multiple times (“restudying”, “rereading”, or “reviewing”) is by itself often not very effective. 4,5 Instead, as described below, other methods are far more powerful at improving the learning of course content.

The Most Effective Learning Techniques

If you have only limited time to read this page, at least check out the following two points. For further details, click on the links to learn more.

Based on decades of learning science research, the two most effective methods known to date are:

  • Spaced practice / distributed practice – learning that occurs over multiple sessions at different points in time (for example, revisiting a textbook chapter once every three days). This technique refers to when you should be preparing for course exams (that is, multiple sessions spread out over several weeks).

► Further information: Spaced Practice

  • Retrieval practice / practice testing – instead of simply restudying information, attempting to recall that information from memory (such as by taking a practice test). This technique refers to what you should be doing to prepare for course exams (that is, test yourself via practice tests or other recall-based techniques).

► Further information: Retrieval Practice

Spaced practice involves when you should “study” and retrieval practice involves how you should  “study”. When you use both (for instance, you can prepare for your exams using a spaced practice schedule and then use retrieval practice during each session), they make a powerful combination.

Additionally, if you perform retrieval practice across multiple days – and, each time, practice recalling information until you attain 100% accuracy (a method called successive relearning ) – then recent research shows that your ability to retain that information over long periods of time is maximized. 6

Finally, besides spaced and retrieval practice, there are some additional learning techniques that you may wish to try. These included interleaved practice, self-explanation, and others.

► Further information: Other Learning Techniques

Workshops and Downloadable Resources

  • For in-person discussion of these techniques, please consider attending this department’s “How to Study Less and Remember More” workshop (for dates and times, please check the undergraduate workshops calendar).
  • How to Study Less and Remember More [ PDF ]

Further Resources

  • UCSD Tutoring
  • Scientific American article, “What Works, What Doesn’t" (2013)
  • Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning (2014)
  • Cornell University: How to Study Effectively (videos)

1 Kornell, N., & Bjork, R. A. (2007). The promise and perils of self-regulated study. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review , 14 (2), 219-224. 2 Karpicke, J. D., Butler, A. C., & Roediger III, H. L. (2009). Metacognitive strategies in student learning: do students practise retrieval when they study on their own? Memory , 17 (4), 471-479. 3 Based on analysis of PSYC 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 60, 101, 102, 103, 105, 106, 120, 144, 145, 154, 163, 164, 161, 171, 181, 182, 190, 191, and 193 courses at UCSD, taught between 2013-2017. 4 Pashler, H., Bain, P. M., Bottge, B. A., Graesser, A., Koedinger, K., McDaniel, M., & Metcalfe, J. (2007). Organizing Instruction and Study to Improve Student Learning. IES Practice Guide. NCER 2007-2004. National Center for Education Research . 5 Dunlosky, J., Rawson, K. A., Marsh, E. J., Nathan, M. J., & Willingham, D. T. (2013). Improving students’ learning with effective learning techniques: Promising directions from cognitive and educational psychology. Psychological Science in the Public Interest , 14 (1), 4-58. 6 Rawson, K. A., Dunlosky, J., & Sciartelli, S. M. (2013). The power of successive relearning: Improving performance on course exams and long-term retention. Educational Psychology Review , 25 (4), 523-548.

Prepared by s. c. pan for ucsd psychology, graphic adapted with permission from ccnlab.net under creative commons attribution-share alike 4.0 international license..

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  • Self-Improvement

15+ Best Study Tips: Top Advice & Effective Ways to Study Better in 2022

Studying isn't easy, whether you're in high school or in college. are you feeling distracted, not in a studying mood, or just clueless as to how to make your study sesh effective no worries we've gathered the best study tips to help you through it..

Goodwall Team

Preparing for exams can be extremely hard, I get it.

You feel like there isn’t enough time to prepare, you get lost keeping track of all the deadlines, and perhaps you either start stress-eating or stop eating because of the added stress.

But studying for your finals doesn’t always have to be like this. To help you not only survive but thrive during this difficult period, we’ve prepared the best study tips, tested and proved to work.

Let’s get started, shall we?

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Here is our list of the best study tips, tricks, and hacks to use:

1. Organize Your Workspace 📏

unorganized workspace for study tips for studying

It’s tough to concentrate on something important if the area around you is cluttered with useless papers and textbooks and it takes you forever to find a working pen. Believe me, though I’m not a clean freak myself and I do think a little mess never hurts anyone, it has to be a mess you can control and feel comfortable in.

If you know exactly where everything you need is and don’t feel immediately annoyed after glancing where you’ll spend the next few hours studying, then go for it! If not, take a short break and make your desk space more manageable, enjoyable, and conducive to a great study experience.

2. Figure Out Your Learning Style 🎓

There are three types of learning styles: visual , auditory , and kinesthetic , together known as the acronym VAK . Though most of us are able to learn using a variety or combination approach, each of us has a predisposition to one of the styles, meaning you can learn easier and faster if you figure out which of the ways works best for you.

If you feel it’s easier to process information by ear, you are probably an auditory learner . To make your studying process more effective, you can try reading your notes or textbook out loud, find a related podcast, or even make a recording of your own voice so you could listen to it later. 

If you are a visual learner, make as many colorful notes and tables as possible, draw graphs, diagrams, mind maps, or stick-figure doodles (just don’t let your creative side go too wild, studying is more important at the moment!).

If you are a kinesthetic learner , you process information best by physical interaction. It might be trickier for you to learn about photosynthesis or World War I through touch, but there is a way around it! Come up with a role-play activity, include physical activity during your study time, or write your notes by hand.

3. Write It Down 🖋️

This is one of my personal favorite study tips, and I’ve used it since high school throughout my endless studying career in university.

Get a notebook, and, as you go, write down all the most important points, definitions, or anything you think might be useful for you to remember better. The only rule you must pay attention to is to completely understand exactly what you’re writing before you write it, rather than simply copying sentences from a textbook. If the auditory learning style works best for you, dictate it to yourself out loud while writing; if you prefer a visual style of learning, use markers and colored pens to zhuzh it up!

Why is this study tip so great?

First of all, you can understand information much more effectively. Plus, you’ll also get to create some great custom-made notes you can use anytime to revisit the main points, like flash cards. Multiple studies show that we learn better while making handwritten notes instead of, for example, typing, as you reflect on it more, which might lead to better memory encoding. 

Related Read : 25 Best Apps for College Students: Productivity, Studying, Learning & More

4. Create a Plan 📅

Before diving into the ocean of textbooks and knowledge, it’s a good idea to organize all your thoughts and access the scope of the challenge. Calculate how much time you might need to prepare and how many hours per day you are ready to devote to studying, and create a masterplan!

You can use either your phone, a spreadsheet on your college laptop , or a good, old-fashioned notebook to write down deadlines and what it is you need to do before. Also, make your goals measurable, meaning instead of “work on an essay,” use formulations such as “write 500 words for an essay on Tuesday”, so you can easily and effectively assess your progress.

Planning and organizing will help you to space your studying in the time you have, so you won’t find yourself unprepared the day before an exam.

So, instead of last-minute, late-night cramming, you could…

5. Get Some Great Sleep 💤

Even though it might be tempting or feel necessary to stay up as long as possible the night before the exam, don’t sacrifice your sleep in favor of studying! For many years, scientists have been proving that giving up sleep is a counterproductive strategy if you want to have good studying results. 

Being tired and drowsy the next day will not do you any favors, as it is harder to concentrate and makes learning more difficult. What’s more, sleep actually helps you to better digest information, as it is the best time for your brain to process everything you learned throughout the day. 

6. Understand What You’re Studying 🧠

This study tip might sound quite obvious, but, from my experience, I know how often students prefer to blindly memorize instead of truly studying. It might be especially tempting when there is not much time left before the exam.

However, it is much easier to remember and process information if you understand it well. Whatever the subject is, from foreign languages to chemistry or algebra, don’t mindlessly cram as much as you can and hope for the best! Devote some time to sort the material out, read with understanding, and find connections between different topics. In most cases, it will save you a lot of time and trouble in the long run, as the next, harder topic is often a continuation of the previous one.

7. Share Your Knowledge 🤓

One of the best study tips for high school students and college students alike is to ensure you understand what you’ve just learned by explaining it to somebody else. Contact your classmates to see if anyone needs help with the same topic or go and put your family members to use, explaining to them what you’ve been studying. Your parents might be happy to see their tuition expenses are bearing fruits, and your younger siblings might find the same information useful in the near future!

Even if it’s difficult for you to find an audience, retell it out loud to yourself, while imagining you are explaining it to another person. This simple trick will help you see if you have some knowledge gaps. If your partner has any questions, making it clearer for them will only strengthen your own understanding and knowledge of the topic.

As Aristotle once said, “teaching is the highest form of understanding,” and so this study tip has stood the test of time!

8. Stay Motivated 💪

When you’re in the middle of an extremely hard and exhausting exam study session, it’s easy to lose your motivation. Find some time to reflect and remind yourself why studying is important to you and what you will achieve in the future because of it. Don’t settle on cliché phrases such as “be successful and make lots of money,” but rather find reasons that will be meaningful specifically to you.

It works even better if you write them down and revisit this list every time you lose the will to study, so it will remind you of the bigger picture and the rewards that await for you in the future. Oh, and if you find it helpful, add some motivational quotes to your list as well!

Related Read : 50+ Best Entrepreneurship Quotes to Inspire, Motivate, and Encourage

9. Create a Productivity Routine ⏰

Figure out which activities give you a productivity boost, and turn them into a habit! Whether it’s taking a cold shower, going for a quick walk with your furry friend, or even washing a few dishes, there are some everyday tasks which just help to get you into the zone.

What some people might consider a tiring chore might be the holy grail of productivity and a secret weapon for others, easily getting them into the right study mood. On top of that, accomplishing these little tasks or chores will give you a sense of accomplishment and motivate you to work harder towards new achievements. 

10. Put Procrastination On Hold ⛔️

On the other hand, remember that the main goal is to study and retain information, so don’t wander far off course. If you wash some dishes, then notice the kitchen is dirty and clean it, then do an entire spring cleaning for your apartment, there might be a problem here!

Some days, it might be extremely difficult to get yourself in a study mood, and, instead of doing so, you may keep yourself busy with other tasks so as not to feel guilty about procrastinating. Cleaning your bedroom, having a laundry day, or reading countless articles on the best tools to use for studying all are great on their own but terrible tangents when you’re trying to study. Stop for a second and assess whether the activity you’re doing is only to avoid the unpleasant preparation for an upcoming exam.

11. Avoid Distractions… 🙄

We already talked about activities which help you stay focused and productive while studying, but the world is also full of insidious distractions that await you around every corner. Be aware of those times when you get distracted and notice bad habits, such as having a TV show in the background or switching back and forth to YouTube or Spotify to pick the next song you want to play.

Of course, some distractions are more difficult to control and stop, such as noisy family members or construction work next door. In these cases, invest in noise-canceling headphones or earplugs or simply find a quieter, distraction-free workspace.

12. …As Well as Social Media ✉️ 

The biggest distraction and the scourge of test-takers everywhere is often social media. For many people (myself included) it can be next to impossible to stop themselves from picking up their phone every five minutes to check for new messages, scroll down the Instagram feed, or just check if there are any new notifications (even though, let’s be honest, you know there weren’t any).

Many people who face a social media problem come up with various methods to reduce the time spent on Facebook, TikTok, and the others. From apps and extensions that block distracting websites to simply tweaking a few settings on your phone, you can always find a way to manage your study time and avoid social media digressions. If you have a habit of picking your phone up when it’s next to you, place it in another room. As the saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind,” and this rule works very well in this case.

The most hardcore (but truly effective!) advice is to simply delete any apps you find addicting until your finals are over. One of my best friends deletes Instagram every time she knows a week of hard studying is coming up, and it really works well for her!

13. Don’t Forget To Take Breaks ⌛️

Sometimes you’ll feel you don’t even have the time to go to the restroom, let alone take planned breaks. However, though they might seem like a luxury you cannot afford, breaks will make the time you devote to studying more effective.

Try using the Pomodoro Technique (there are plenty of cool apps you can download to make it more fun), and take a short 5-minute break for each half an hour you spend on your textbooks.

Related Read : How to Make Friends in College: 10+ Easy Ways to Meet People at Uni

14. Establish Focus Rituals 🧘🏽

Just as some activities give you a boost of productivity and motivation, there are certain rituals that can make you feel more zen and focused, which is super important when you are studying, as you might imagine. There is no universal remedy, though, and you might want to try a few different things to find focus rituals that work for you. But, among those to consider might be aromatherapy, having a lit candle on your desk, playing an instrumental playlist on Spotify, or just anything that gets you into the zone.

15. Stay Healthy 🥑

Exams can be a very stressful period in your life, which is why both your body and your mind need you to follow healthy habits more than ever! Do not give up on your daily exercise or walks in favor of studying, as this physical activity and oxygen can actually give your brain a boost and make your study time more productive.

And, even though you might be extremely busy, find time for some healthy meals and snacks instead of munching on junk foods at your desk. Some foods can be great for supporting the proper functioning of your gray matter, while others may leave you worse off.

16. Experiment! ❤️

Well, this is my last study tip for you today. As you might notice, studying is an individual process and each of us has our own study tips and tricks on how to make the best of it. So, if you can, it is really worth it to invest some time to experiment for yourself.

Try different techniques, and find the study hacks that are most useful (and enjoyable!) specifically for you.

Well, that’s all our tips for studying for now, and we hope it helps you make the most of your next study sesh! Got any questions, feedback, or other study tips to add to our list? Let us know in the comments below, and thanks for reading!

This post on study tips was written by Mariia Kislitsyna , a master’s degree graduate in business strategy and a former IT recruiter. Mariia is an expert on topics related to employment, recruitment, education, and more, and she also frequently writes about culture and travel.

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The best educational article i read in recent times. No one mentioned the points like establishing focus rituals or experimenting. Great work and efforts.

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Study for an Essay Test

And the Rest will Follow

  • Writing Essays
  • Writing Research Papers
  • English Grammar
  • M.Ed., Education Administration, University of Georgia
  • B.A., History, Armstrong State University

Test day is here. You’ve packed your brain full of definitions, dates, and details, preparing for a marathon of multiple choice and true & false questions, and now you’re staring at a single, solitary, terrifying essay question.

How could this happen? You’re suddenly fighting for your life (okay, a grade), and your only weapons are a blank piece of paper and a pencil. What can you do? Next time, prepare for the test as if you know it will be an essay test.​

Why Do Teachers Use Essay Questions?

Essay questions are based on themes and overall ideas. Teachers like to use essay questions because they give students the opportunity to express everything they’ve learned over the weeks or months, using their own words. Essay test answers reveal more than the bare facts, though. When submitting essay answers, students are expected to cover lots of information in an organized, sensible manner.

But what if you prepare for an essay question and the teacher doesn’t ask one? No problem. If you use these tips and understand the themes and ideas of the test period, the other questions will come easily.

4 Essay Question Study Tips

  • Review chapter titles. Textbook chapters often refer to themes. Look at each relevant title and think of smaller ideas, chains of events, and relevant terms that fit within that theme.
  • As you take notes, look for teacher code words. If you hear your teacher use words like “once again we see” or “another similar event occurred,” make note of it. Anything that indicates a pattern or chain of events is key.
  • Think of a theme every day. Every few nights as you review your class notes , look for themes. Come up with your own essay questions based on your themes.
  • Practice your essay questions. As you do, make sure you use vocabulary terms found in your notes and text. Underline them as you go, and go back to review their relevance.

If you take effective notes and think in terms of themes as you study each night, you’ll be prepared for every type of test question. You’ll soon find that, in understanding the theme of each lesson or chapter, you’ll begin to think more like your teacher thinks. You will also begin to form a deeper understanding of the test material overall.

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Learning Center

Studying 101: Study Smarter Not Harder

Do you ever feel like your study habits simply aren’t cutting it? Do you wonder what you could be doing to perform better in class and on exams? Many students realize that their high school study habits aren’t very effective in college. This is understandable, as college is quite different from high school. The professors are less personally involved, classes are bigger, exams are worth more, reading is more intense, and classes are much more rigorous. That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you; it just means you need to learn some more effective study skills. Fortunately, there are many active, effective study strategies that are shown to be effective in college classes.

This handout offers several tips on effective studying. Implementing these tips into your regular study routine will help you to efficiently and effectively learn course material. Experiment with them and find some that work for you.

Reading is not studying

Simply reading and re-reading texts or notes is not actively engaging in the material. It is simply re-reading your notes. Only ‘doing’ the readings for class is not studying. It is simply doing the reading for class. Re-reading leads to quick forgetting.

Think of reading as an important part of pre-studying, but learning information requires actively engaging in the material (Edwards, 2014). Active engagement is the process of constructing meaning from text that involves making connections to lectures, forming examples, and regulating your own learning (Davis, 2007). Active studying does not mean highlighting or underlining text, re-reading, or rote memorization. Though these activities may help to keep you engaged in the task, they are not considered active studying techniques and are weakly related to improved learning (Mackenzie, 1994).

Ideas for active studying include:

  • Create a study guide by topic. Formulate questions and problems and write complete answers. Create your own quiz.
  • Become a teacher. Say the information aloud in your own words as if you are the instructor and teaching the concepts to a class.
  • Derive examples that relate to your own experiences.
  • Create concept maps or diagrams that explain the material.
  • Develop symbols that represent concepts.
  • For non-technical classes (e.g., English, History, Psychology), figure out the big ideas so you can explain, contrast, and re-evaluate them.
  • For technical classes, work the problems and explain the steps and why they work.
  • Study in terms of question, evidence, and conclusion: What is the question posed by the instructor/author? What is the evidence that they present? What is the conclusion?

Organization and planning will help you to actively study for your courses. When studying for a test, organize your materials first and then begin your active reviewing by topic (Newport, 2007). Often professors provide subtopics on the syllabi. Use them as a guide to help organize your materials. For example, gather all of the materials for one topic (e.g., PowerPoint notes, text book notes, articles, homework, etc.) and put them together in a pile. Label each pile with the topic and study by topics.

For more information on the principle behind active studying, check out our tipsheet on metacognition .

Understand the Study Cycle

The Study Cycle , developed by Frank Christ, breaks down the different parts of studying: previewing, attending class, reviewing, studying, and checking your understanding. Although each step may seem obvious at a glance, all too often students try to take shortcuts and miss opportunities for good learning. For example, you may skip a reading before class because the professor covers the same material in class; doing so misses a key opportunity to learn in different modes (reading and listening) and to benefit from the repetition and distributed practice (see #3 below) that you’ll get from both reading ahead and attending class. Understanding the importance of all stages of this cycle will help make sure you don’t miss opportunities to learn effectively.

Spacing out is good

One of the most impactful learning strategies is “distributed practice”—spacing out your studying over several short periods of time over several days and weeks (Newport, 2007). The most effective practice is to work a short time on each class every day. The total amount of time spent studying will be the same (or less) than one or two marathon library sessions, but you will learn the information more deeply and retain much more for the long term—which will help get you an A on the final. The important thing is how you use your study time, not how long you study. Long study sessions lead to a lack of concentration and thus a lack of learning and retention.

In order to spread out studying over short periods of time across several days and weeks, you need control over your schedule . Keeping a list of tasks to complete on a daily basis will help you to include regular active studying sessions for each class. Try to do something for each class each day. Be specific and realistic regarding how long you plan to spend on each task—you should not have more tasks on your list than you can reasonably complete during the day.

For example, you may do a few problems per day in math rather than all of them the hour before class. In history, you can spend 15-20 minutes each day actively studying your class notes. Thus, your studying time may still be the same length, but rather than only preparing for one class, you will be preparing for all of your classes in short stretches. This will help focus, stay on top of your work, and retain information.

In addition to learning the material more deeply, spacing out your work helps stave off procrastination. Rather than having to face the dreaded project for four hours on Monday, you can face the dreaded project for 30 minutes each day. The shorter, more consistent time to work on a dreaded project is likely to be more acceptable and less likely to be delayed to the last minute. Finally, if you have to memorize material for class (names, dates, formulas), it is best to make flashcards for this material and review periodically throughout the day rather than one long, memorization session (Wissman and Rawson, 2012). See our handout on memorization strategies to learn more.

It’s good to be intense

Not all studying is equal. You will accomplish more if you study intensively. Intensive study sessions are short and will allow you to get work done with minimal wasted effort. Shorter, intensive study times are more effective than drawn out studying.

In fact, one of the most impactful study strategies is distributing studying over multiple sessions (Newport, 2007). Intensive study sessions can last 30 or 45-minute sessions and include active studying strategies. For example, self-testing is an active study strategy that improves the intensity of studying and efficiency of learning. However, planning to spend hours on end self-testing is likely to cause you to become distracted and lose your attention.

On the other hand, if you plan to quiz yourself on the course material for 45 minutes and then take a break, you are much more likely to maintain your attention and retain the information. Furthermore, the shorter, more intense sessions will likely put the pressure on that is needed to prevent procrastination.

Silence isn’t golden

Know where you study best. The silence of a library may not be the best place for you. It’s important to consider what noise environment works best for you. You might find that you concentrate better with some background noise. Some people find that listening to classical music while studying helps them concentrate, while others find this highly distracting. The point is that the silence of the library may be just as distracting (or more) than the noise of a gymnasium. Thus, if silence is distracting, but you prefer to study in the library, try the first or second floors where there is more background ‘buzz.’

Keep in mind that active studying is rarely silent as it often requires saying the material aloud.

Problems are your friend

Working and re-working problems is important for technical courses (e.g., math, economics). Be able to explain the steps of the problems and why they work.

In technical courses, it is usually more important to work problems than read the text (Newport, 2007). In class, write down in detail the practice problems demonstrated by the professor. Annotate each step and ask questions if you are confused. At the very least, record the question and the answer (even if you miss the steps).

When preparing for tests, put together a large list of problems from the course materials and lectures. Work the problems and explain the steps and why they work (Carrier, 2003).

Reconsider multitasking

A significant amount of research indicates that multi-tasking does not improve efficiency and actually negatively affects results (Junco, 2012).

In order to study smarter, not harder, you will need to eliminate distractions during your study sessions. Social media, web browsing, game playing, texting, etc. will severely affect the intensity of your study sessions if you allow them! Research is clear that multi-tasking (e.g., responding to texts, while studying), increases the amount of time needed to learn material and decreases the quality of the learning (Junco, 2012).

Eliminating the distractions will allow you to fully engage during your study sessions. If you don’t need your computer for homework, then don’t use it. Use apps to help you set limits on the amount of time you can spend at certain sites during the day. Turn your phone off. Reward intensive studying with a social-media break (but make sure you time your break!) See our handout on managing technology for more tips and strategies.

Switch up your setting

Find several places to study in and around campus and change up your space if you find that it is no longer a working space for you.

Know when and where you study best. It may be that your focus at 10:00 PM. is not as sharp as at 10:00 AM. Perhaps you are more productive at a coffee shop with background noise, or in the study lounge in your residence hall. Perhaps when you study on your bed, you fall asleep.

Have a variety of places in and around campus that are good study environments for you. That way wherever you are, you can find your perfect study spot. After a while, you might find that your spot is too comfortable and no longer is a good place to study, so it’s time to hop to a new spot!

Become a teacher

Try to explain the material in your own words, as if you are the teacher. You can do this in a study group, with a study partner, or on your own. Saying the material aloud will point out where you are confused and need more information and will help you retain the information. As you are explaining the material, use examples and make connections between concepts (just as a teacher does). It is okay (even encouraged) to do this with your notes in your hands. At first you may need to rely on your notes to explain the material, but eventually you’ll be able to teach it without your notes.

Creating a quiz for yourself will help you to think like your professor. What does your professor want you to know? Quizzing yourself is a highly effective study technique. Make a study guide and carry it with you so you can review the questions and answers periodically throughout the day and across several days. Identify the questions that you don’t know and quiz yourself on only those questions. Say your answers aloud. This will help you to retain the information and make corrections where they are needed. For technical courses, do the sample problems and explain how you got from the question to the answer. Re-do the problems that give you trouble. Learning the material in this way actively engages your brain and will significantly improve your memory (Craik, 1975).

Take control of your calendar

Controlling your schedule and your distractions will help you to accomplish your goals.

If you are in control of your calendar, you will be able to complete your assignments and stay on top of your coursework. The following are steps to getting control of your calendar:

  • On the same day each week, (perhaps Sunday nights or Saturday mornings) plan out your schedule for the week.
  • Go through each class and write down what you’d like to get completed for each class that week.
  • Look at your calendar and determine how many hours you have to complete your work.
  • Determine whether your list can be completed in the amount of time that you have available. (You may want to put the amount of time expected to complete each assignment.) Make adjustments as needed. For example, if you find that it will take more hours to complete your work than you have available, you will likely need to triage your readings. Completing all of the readings is a luxury. You will need to make decisions about your readings based on what is covered in class. You should read and take notes on all of the assignments from the favored class source (the one that is used a lot in the class). This may be the textbook or a reading that directly addresses the topic for the day. You can likely skim supplemental readings.
  • Pencil into your calendar when you plan to get assignments completed.
  • Before going to bed each night, make your plan for the next day. Waking up with a plan will make you more productive.

See our handout on calendars and college for more tips on using calendars as time management.

Use downtime to your advantage

Beware of ‘easy’ weeks. This is the calm before the storm. Lighter work weeks are a great time to get ahead on work or to start long projects. Use the extra hours to get ahead on assignments or start big projects or papers. You should plan to work on every class every week even if you don’t have anything due. In fact, it is preferable to do some work for each of your classes every day. Spending 30 minutes per class each day will add up to three hours per week, but spreading this time out over six days is more effective than cramming it all in during one long three-hour session. If you have completed all of the work for a particular class, then use the 30 minutes to get ahead or start a longer project.

Use all your resources

Remember that you can make an appointment with an academic coach to work on implementing any of the strategies suggested in this handout.

Works consulted

Carrier, L. M. (2003). College students’ choices of study strategies. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 96 (1), 54-56.

Craik, F. I., & Tulving, E. (1975). Depth of processing and the retention of words in episodic memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 104 (3), 268.

Davis, S. G., & Gray, E. S. (2007). Going beyond test-taking strategies: Building self-regulated students and teachers. Journal of Curriculum and Instruction, 1 (1), 31-47.

Edwards, A. J., Weinstein, C. E., Goetz, E. T., & Alexander, P. A. (2014). Learning and study strategies: Issues in assessment, instruction, and evaluation. Elsevier.

Junco, R., & Cotten, S. R. (2012). No A 4 U: The relationship between multitasking and academic performance. Computers & Education, 59 (2), 505-514.

Mackenzie, A. M. (1994). Examination preparation, anxiety and examination performance in a group of adult students. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 13 (5), 373-388.

McGuire, S.Y. & McGuire, S. (2016). Teach Students How to Learn: Strategies You Can Incorporate in Any Course to Improve Student Metacognition, Study Skills, and Motivation. Stylus Publishing, LLC.

Newport, C. (2006). How to become a straight-a student: the unconventional strategies real college students use to score high while studying less. Three Rivers Press.

Paul, K. (1996). Study smarter, not harder. Self Counsel Press.

Robinson, A. (1993). What smart students know: maximum grades, optimum learning, minimum time. Crown trade paperbacks.

Wissman, K. T., Rawson, K. A., & Pyc, M. A. (2012). How and when do students use flashcards? Memory, 20, 568-579.

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A (Very) Simple Way to Improve Your Writing

  • Mark Rennella

study tips essay

It’s called the “one-idea rule” — and any level of writer can use it.

The “one idea” rule is a simple concept that can help you sharpen your writing, persuade others by presenting your argument in a clear, concise, and engaging way. What exactly does the rule say?

  • Every component of a successful piece of writing should express only one idea.
  • In persuasive writing, your “one idea” is often the argument or belief you are presenting to the reader. Once you identify what that argument is, the “one-idea rule” can help you develop, revise, and connect the various components of your writing.
  • For instance, let’s say you’re writing an essay. There are three components you will be working with throughout your piece: the title, the paragraphs, and the sentences.
  • Each of these parts should be dedicated to just one idea. The ideas are not identical, of course, but they’re all related. If done correctly, the smaller ideas (in sentences) all build (in paragraphs) to support the main point (suggested in the title).

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Where your work meets your life. See more from Ascend here .

Most advice about writing looks like a long laundry list of “do’s and don’ts.” These lists can be helpful from time to time, but they’re hard to remember … and, therefore, hard to depend on when you’re having trouble putting your thoughts to paper. During my time in academia, teaching composition at the undergraduate and graduate levels, I saw many people struggle with this.

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  • MR Mark Rennella is Associate Editor at HBP and has published two books, Entrepreneurs, Managers, and Leaders and The Boston Cosmopolitans .  

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  • How to write an argumentative essay | Examples & tips

How to Write an Argumentative Essay | Examples & Tips

Published on July 24, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on July 23, 2023.

An argumentative essay expresses an extended argument for a particular thesis statement . The author takes a clearly defined stance on their subject and builds up an evidence-based case for it.

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Table of contents

When do you write an argumentative essay, approaches to argumentative essays, introducing your argument, the body: developing your argument, concluding your argument, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about argumentative essays.

You might be assigned an argumentative essay as a writing exercise in high school or in a composition class. The prompt will often ask you to argue for one of two positions, and may include terms like “argue” or “argument.” It will frequently take the form of a question.

The prompt may also be more open-ended in terms of the possible arguments you could make.

Argumentative writing at college level

At university, the vast majority of essays or papers you write will involve some form of argumentation. For example, both rhetorical analysis and literary analysis essays involve making arguments about texts.

In this context, you won’t necessarily be told to write an argumentative essay—but making an evidence-based argument is an essential goal of most academic writing, and this should be your default approach unless you’re told otherwise.

Examples of argumentative essay prompts

At a university level, all the prompts below imply an argumentative essay as the appropriate response.

Your research should lead you to develop a specific position on the topic. The essay then argues for that position and aims to convince the reader by presenting your evidence, evaluation and analysis.

  • Don’t just list all the effects you can think of.
  • Do develop a focused argument about the overall effect and why it matters, backed up by evidence from sources.
  • Don’t just provide a selection of data on the measures’ effectiveness.
  • Do build up your own argument about which kinds of measures have been most or least effective, and why.
  • Don’t just analyze a random selection of doppelgänger characters.
  • Do form an argument about specific texts, comparing and contrasting how they express their thematic concerns through doppelgänger characters.

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study tips essay

An argumentative essay should be objective in its approach; your arguments should rely on logic and evidence, not on exaggeration or appeals to emotion.

There are many possible approaches to argumentative essays, but there are two common models that can help you start outlining your arguments: The Toulmin model and the Rogerian model.

Toulmin arguments

The Toulmin model consists of four steps, which may be repeated as many times as necessary for the argument:

  • Make a claim
  • Provide the grounds (evidence) for the claim
  • Explain the warrant (how the grounds support the claim)
  • Discuss possible rebuttals to the claim, identifying the limits of the argument and showing that you have considered alternative perspectives

The Toulmin model is a common approach in academic essays. You don’t have to use these specific terms (grounds, warrants, rebuttals), but establishing a clear connection between your claims and the evidence supporting them is crucial in an argumentative essay.

Say you’re making an argument about the effectiveness of workplace anti-discrimination measures. You might:

  • Claim that unconscious bias training does not have the desired results, and resources would be better spent on other approaches
  • Cite data to support your claim
  • Explain how the data indicates that the method is ineffective
  • Anticipate objections to your claim based on other data, indicating whether these objections are valid, and if not, why not.

Rogerian arguments

The Rogerian model also consists of four steps you might repeat throughout your essay:

  • Discuss what the opposing position gets right and why people might hold this position
  • Highlight the problems with this position
  • Present your own position , showing how it addresses these problems
  • Suggest a possible compromise —what elements of your position would proponents of the opposing position benefit from adopting?

This model builds up a clear picture of both sides of an argument and seeks a compromise. It is particularly useful when people tend to disagree strongly on the issue discussed, allowing you to approach opposing arguments in good faith.

Say you want to argue that the internet has had a positive impact on education. You might:

  • Acknowledge that students rely too much on websites like Wikipedia
  • Argue that teachers view Wikipedia as more unreliable than it really is
  • Suggest that Wikipedia’s system of citations can actually teach students about referencing
  • Suggest critical engagement with Wikipedia as a possible assignment for teachers who are skeptical of its usefulness.

You don’t necessarily have to pick one of these models—you may even use elements of both in different parts of your essay—but it’s worth considering them if you struggle to structure your arguments.

Regardless of which approach you take, your essay should always be structured using an introduction , a body , and a conclusion .

Like other academic essays, an argumentative essay begins with an introduction . The introduction serves to capture the reader’s interest, provide background information, present your thesis statement , and (in longer essays) to summarize the structure of the body.

Hover over different parts of the example below to see how a typical introduction works.

The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education. The use of the internet in academic contexts is on the rise, and its role in learning is hotly debated. For many teachers who did not grow up with this technology, its effects seem alarming and potentially harmful. This concern, while understandable, is misguided. The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its critical benefits for students and educators—as a uniquely comprehensive and accessible information source; a means of exposure to and engagement with different perspectives; and a highly flexible learning environment.

The body of an argumentative essay is where you develop your arguments in detail. Here you’ll present evidence, analysis, and reasoning to convince the reader that your thesis statement is true.

In the standard five-paragraph format for short essays, the body takes up three of your five paragraphs. In longer essays, it will be more paragraphs, and might be divided into sections with headings.

Each paragraph covers its own topic, introduced with a topic sentence . Each of these topics must contribute to your overall argument; don’t include irrelevant information.

This example paragraph takes a Rogerian approach: It first acknowledges the merits of the opposing position and then highlights problems with that position.

Hover over different parts of the example to see how a body paragraph is constructed.

A common frustration for teachers is students’ use of Wikipedia as a source in their writing. Its prevalence among students is not exaggerated; a survey found that the vast majority of the students surveyed used Wikipedia (Head & Eisenberg, 2010). An article in The Guardian stresses a common objection to its use: “a reliance on Wikipedia can discourage students from engaging with genuine academic writing” (Coomer, 2013). Teachers are clearly not mistaken in viewing Wikipedia usage as ubiquitous among their students; but the claim that it discourages engagement with academic sources requires further investigation. This point is treated as self-evident by many teachers, but Wikipedia itself explicitly encourages students to look into other sources. Its articles often provide references to academic publications and include warning notes where citations are missing; the site’s own guidelines for research make clear that it should be used as a starting point, emphasizing that users should always “read the references and check whether they really do support what the article says” (“Wikipedia:Researching with Wikipedia,” 2020). Indeed, for many students, Wikipedia is their first encounter with the concepts of citation and referencing. The use of Wikipedia therefore has a positive side that merits deeper consideration than it often receives.

An argumentative essay ends with a conclusion that summarizes and reflects on the arguments made in the body.

No new arguments or evidence appear here, but in longer essays you may discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your argument and suggest topics for future research. In all conclusions, you should stress the relevance and importance of your argument.

Hover over the following example to see the typical elements of a conclusion.

The internet has had a major positive impact on the world of education; occasional pitfalls aside, its value is evident in numerous applications. The future of teaching lies in the possibilities the internet opens up for communication, research, and interactivity. As the popularity of distance learning shows, students value the flexibility and accessibility offered by digital education, and educators should fully embrace these advantages. The internet’s dangers, real and imaginary, have been documented exhaustively by skeptics, but the internet is here to stay; it is time to focus seriously on its potential for good.

If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

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An argumentative essay tends to be a longer essay involving independent research, and aims to make an original argument about a topic. Its thesis statement makes a contentious claim that must be supported in an objective, evidence-based way.

An expository essay also aims to be objective, but it doesn’t have to make an original argument. Rather, it aims to explain something (e.g., a process or idea) in a clear, concise way. Expository essays are often shorter assignments and rely less on research.

At college level, you must properly cite your sources in all essays , research papers , and other academic texts (except exams and in-class exercises).

Add a citation whenever you quote , paraphrase , or summarize information or ideas from a source. You should also give full source details in a bibliography or reference list at the end of your text.

The exact format of your citations depends on which citation style you are instructed to use. The most common styles are APA , MLA , and Chicago .

The majority of the essays written at university are some sort of argumentative essay . Unless otherwise specified, you can assume that the goal of any essay you’re asked to write is argumentative: To convince the reader of your position using evidence and reasoning.

In composition classes you might be given assignments that specifically test your ability to write an argumentative essay. Look out for prompts including instructions like “argue,” “assess,” or “discuss” to see if this is the goal.

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