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10 Studying Life Hacks to Help You Work Smarter This Semester

Studying is something that lots of college students just absolutely hate doing. It’s also essential for performing well in school, so you can’t avoid it altogether if you want to pass your classes.

Just know this: if you’re a college student who dreads sitting down to study, you’re not alone. The good news is that studying doesn’t have to feel like pulling teeth. With great studying tips, you can learn to work smarter, not harder, this semester.

Here are the top 10 studying life hacks you can try to make studying a breeze:

1: Don’t wait until the last minute to get started

It’s normal to put off doing stressful or strenuous things like studying. Some research estimates that over 70 percent of college students procrastinate, and about 20 percent do it consistently. That said, procrastinating is only going to make studying more difficult.

If you leave studying until the last minute, you will probably have to review the material in a long, tedious study session or two. Not only is that miserable, but it also makes it harder for your brain to retain the information.

Instead, try to study in short 20–30 minute sessions with breaks between each session. That should be very manageable if you start at least a week before your upcoming exam.

2: Ask questions in class

College students often forget that the learning and studying process starts in the classroom. If you want to have an easier time studying later, make sure to ask questions in class about any concepts you don’t understand.

There’s no shame in raising your hand and asking for clarification. That’s what your professor is there for. Plus, when you’re studying later, you won’t have to try to hunt down that information from alternative sources. Just make sure that you take strong notes so all the details are easy to find.

3: Stick to a study plan

It’s always a good idea to have a plan, and studying is no exception. Creating and sticking to a study schedule can help you keep yourself accountable and ensure that you can devote time to studying for all of your courses.

Try to designate a time during the day that you’re going to use to study, such as 6 to 8 pm every day. After a while of sticking to that schedule, it will be easier to get into “studying mode” and focus on the information.

4: Create and use flashcards

Sure, flashcards may seem old-school, but there’s a reason why they’re such a popular study tool. Looking at the front of a flashcard and trying to think of the answer on the back is a form of active recall. That means your brain has to remember the concept without reading or recognizing it, like on a multiple choice exam.

Why does that matter? Using active recall while studying can increase retention by as much as 150 percent. In other words, using flashcards to study can make it much easier to commit key ideas and concepts to memory. And when you create your own flashcards, the process of making them will also help the information stick in your mind. If physical flashcards aren’t your thing, another option is to make or find digital flashcards online.

5: Turn off notifications

One of the obstacles to effective studying for the modern college student is a phone that’s constantly buzzing with new notifications. You simply can’t stay concentrated on your course material if you keep checking your phone.

Each time you read a notification, it will take some time to refocus on your studies. Silencing your phone or turning it off entirely while you’re studying is the way to go. If that’s not enough to keep you off your phone during your study session, you can always download an app that temporarily restricts your phone access to eliminate temptation.