3 Smart Strategies to Kick Stubborn Study Habits to the Curb

This is a guest post written by Thomas Edison State College

Distractions aren’t the only things hurting your grades. How and where you study can make a big difference between passing and failing an exam or an entire course. With all the effort being put into your degree, don’t let poor study habits affect your academic success. Here are three simple fixes to get rid of the most stubborn study habits forever.

1. Eliminate distractions by using the resources available to you.Textbooks, college books

It may seem challenging to finish any schoolwork while the kids whine of boredom, work sends you after-hours emails and Facebook keeps calling your name. If your study environment is too distracting and you often get sidetracked, your assignments and the quality of work you produce will suffer. But how are you supposed to get anything done if sacrificing your family and job responsibilities is not an option?

Decide what is possible for you to do right now. Perhaps a neighbor would be a great babysitter/boredom-buster for a few hours on the weekends. Or, instead of watching your favorite hour-long TV drama, record it for later and use that time to get your schoolwork done. There are even free, online tools that block time-wasting websites from you until you’ve finished your assignments. And you can always make small, personal deals with yourself – for every project completed, give yourself a reward. It could be an hour online or a tasty treat. Whatever you choose, find the balance that works for you and stick with it.

2. Determine how you learn best and focus on that method wholeheartedly.

It’s easier to spend your limited study time cramming or pulling all-nighters, but these methods aren’t helping you at all. A 2012 study by UCLA found that “…sacrificing sleep for extra study time, whether it's cramming for a test or plowing through a pile of homework, is actually counterproductive.” Your ability to retain information is crucial to your academic performance, so it’s imperative that you learn in the manner that works best for you. [Don’t know your learning style? Take a quiz and find out!] That means you just have to work smarter, not harder. Instead of countless hours reading the same material over and over, try these study tricks instead:

  • Quiz yourself on the material.
  • Explain the subject as if you are teaching it to someone else.
  • Write out the information and draw diagrams – by hand.
  • Break up the information into smaller chunks and review it repeatedly and consistently over time.

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3. Plan it out.

Instead of tacking your course syllabus to the wall or sticking it in a binder, jot down your assignment and project due dates in a planner that includes your normal activities. That way, you can see where there may be a few spare hours for schoolwork or spot any conflicts, and adjust your schedule as necessary. A planner will help you visualize what needs to be accomplished, and it will be much easier for you to stay on pace with your coursework.


About Thomas Edison State College

Thomas Edison State College provides flexible, high-quality, collegiate learning opportunities for self-directed adults. One of New Jersey’s 11 senior public institutions of higher education, the College offers associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in more than 100 areas of study that can be customized to meet their individual needs. The College is a national leader in the assessment of adult learning and a pioneer in the use of educational technologies. Learn more at www.tesc.edu.

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