There’s an endless amount of study hacks floating around the web that claim to help you study better, but how effective actually are they?
To help you waste less time trying out hundreds of new methods, we’ve put together five study hacks that have been tried and tested by highly productive students, and as such, are sure to improve you concentration and boost your rates of success.
1. Record your lectures
You don’t want to get out of bed to go to the lecture, but you don’t want to miss it. What do you do?
If you’re savvy, you’ll either get a friend to record it or go in yourself to see your friends and click record while you randomly check Facebook and fall in and out of consciousness.
Recording your lectures is not just one of the best study hacks for hangovers, it is a great study tool in general as you can rewind, fast forward, and speed up lectures when studying and writing up reports later.
You may think you can do a lot of things at once — revise, watch a movie, listen to a podcast, check your phone, and talk to your friends. But your brain can’t.
We may be incredibly good at rapidly switching between tasks, but our brains can only concentrate on one thing at a time. To be effective in your study, then, you want to do only one thing at any given time.
The best way to do this is by setting yourself mini-goals using the SMART method. Then get rid of all distractions, set a Pomodoro timer, to get it done.
3. Prepare ahead
The best study hacks are the ones that mean you spend less time studying. And planning ahead is by far the most effective way of reducing the time you spend slouched in the chair gormlessly staring at the screen.
At the end of every day, take at least ten minutes to prepare your to-do list for the following one. Better yet, use a method like the bullet journal to better organise your days, weeks, and whole semesters.
4. Find a study area
As I’m writing this I’m sitting in my favourite place for studying and working. It’s a cafe with comfy seats and cheap tea that’s always full of old people, especially in the mornings. I know the staff don’t mind if I sit here for hours, and there’s a nice spot by the window that allows me to stare off into the distance to think without attracting too many funny looks.
It can take some time and effort to find your perfect study spot, but once you’ve got it, it’ll serve you for life. Stretch further afield from your flat and the uni library and try local cafes, bars, restaurants, hotels — anywhere with free wifi and good coffee and treats.
5. Take a break
You have exams, time is running out, and yet you seem to be going backwards with your studying. The last thing you want to do is stop working, but as is often the case in life, taking a break is the best possible thing you can do.
The trick is to do it properly by putting as much effort into your break as you would your study. That means dropping everything for five to ten minutes and going for a walk, calling a friend, or doing something that completely takes your mind off work and sets you at ease.