It doesn’t matter whether you are in high school or college, completing any kind of academic course can be tough. Luckily, we’ve put together a list of ten useful study tips to help you out along the way. In compiling this list, we’ve tried to include a healthy mix of methods from relaxation techniques and studying processes to applications and gadgets that can really give you the edge.
The result is a bunch of study tips than any kind of student should find useful.
Set a schedule
There’s a common saying that if you fail to prepare, then you prepare to fail, and nowhere is this truer than studying. Therefore, the first of our study tips is simply that: prepare. Set yourself a schedule that you know you can stick to. Draw up a timetable as soon as you know when your exams or assignments are due. Fill it in with non-study stuff first, the sorts of things you can’t put off – jobs, chores, meals, family engagements, and so on. Then, fit your study periods around these items.
Check your pace
Believe it or not, there is no right answer to how quickly or how intensely you should be studying. Different students excel under different conditions. If you find your concentration wandering after 15 minutes of hard study, that’s not necessarily a problem: just break your study up into 15-minute chunks of time. Likewise, if you study better in long sessions, make sure you can find a good couple of hours’ uninterrupted time in your study schedule.
Don’t forget to rest
We all know the cliché of the student burning the midnight oil and cramming into the wee hours of the night. Unfortunately, it rarely works, as memory function is deeply linked to having sufficient sleep. Aim for 7-8 hours’ sleep every night and, if you’re planning more than a couple of hours’ straight study, allow time for a mid-study nap.
It’s easy to get distracted, and it’s something we are all guilty of. With the whole world at our fingertips, either through our computers or our mobile devices, it’s only natural that we take the occasional peek at our Facebook, our Twitter, or a blog post about 10 celebrities and their lookalike alpacas. Obviously, the occasional digression is fine, but we all know that one look is never enough.
Link leads onto link and before you know it, whole hours have passed by that should have been spent studying. Switch off your phone and put it in a drawer: out of sight, out of mind. Even better, put it in another room. Even having to traipse downstairs to the kitchen to grab your phone can be enough discouragement to stop you from aimless browsing. For your PC or laptop, use an app like Freedom. This handy tool blocks the most commonly cited online distractions – YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, TV Tropes, and the like – for a period of time set by you. You can also add to its blacklist, tailoring the experience to avoid your personal distraction triggers.
Let there be music
Invest in a good pair of noise-canceling headphones, and put together a study playlist. What you choose will be determined by your own preference, but we recommend instrumental tracks, as many students find lyrics distract them from what they’re reading. Beyond that, there is no evidence that one genre of music is better than another for studying. Whether you favor a smooth jazz quartet, the classical greats, or a blistering metal guitar solo, pick what works for you.
If you find music distracting, why not try the Noisli online app? Instead of music or the ominous sound of silence, it plays a variety of nature noises in the background, everything from birdsong to crashing waves. You can tailor the mix to your own preference, whatever keeps you focussed.
Voice to text software
This may feel less like a study tip and more like cheating, but a quality piece of dictation software like Dragon or Speechnotes can work wonders for many students. You can set it to record and transcribe your lecturers meaning that you need never miss out on a key point ever again. Likewise, when writing your own essays, you can do it through the voice to text software, allowed you to produce your first graph as a stream of consciousness, which you can then go back and edit into a more coherent state.
Having a way to keep your notes in order is essential and, in this day and age, it needs to be digital. Folders full of handwritten notes, hastily scribbled down during a lecture, no longer cut it. EverNote is a fantastic app that allows you to keep all of your study notes in one place, whilst also making it easy to swap things around, link them to one another, and annotate areas of interest. One of its most useful features is that your notes aren’t restricted to simple text documents – it is a full multimedia experience. You can import text, graphs, images, videos, and audio: in short, anything that might assist you in your assignment can be included in your EverNote folder, to be used as you see fit.
As study tips go, we’ve saved the best for last. The ScanMarker is a cutting-edge OCR device, with multiple applications for the busy student. OCR (or Optical Character Recognition) is a technology that allows an electronic scanner to read a printed line in a book, magazine, or newspaper and convert it into digital text, to be manipulated by the user as they see fit. What this means, in practical terms, is that you are able to take accurate notes direct from the source and transfer them to your essays and assignments.
But there’s so much more it than that. ScanMarker will not only copy printed text to a digital format, it will also read it back to you, allowing you to take in the information more effectively than reading alone. This also means you can have the device read back your own work, making it easy to spot misused grammar, spelling, and flow, resulting in a tighter and more impressive piece of work.
What’s more, with its high levels of accuracy, you can quickly compile and incorporate direct quotations from primary and secondary sources, easily producing a series of citations that will give your work more authority.
For more information on the ScanMarker and the ScanMarker Air, visit our homepage.