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We all like to think that studying comes naturally to some but is impossible for others – and our students are no exception.

Whether it’s looming exams, preparing for college, or moving up to high school, sharpening those study skills is key to getting your students through education. So if it’s not all down to chance, what study methods and tips will make the difference? These 15 scientific study techniques are sure to teach your students how to study the right way:

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1. Use print over digital

Research has suggested that, while eLearning is convenient, it isn’t as effective as getting some time in with a good book. It might be an alien concept for your students, who likely use tablets, smartphones, or laptops for every project. But as much as 90% of students claim stellar results with a proper hard copy of a textbook.

It takes less repetition for words on paper to get into your head than words on a screen. It seems paper is still number one when it comes to studying techniques, so invest in physical textbooks or make copies at the library to get the most information in your head as quickly as possible.

2. Put your headphones on

While there’s competing information as to whether music truly helps to study, it can be highly effective in busy and less focusing-friendly environments. Of course, heavy metal music is going to be far more distracting than something low-key. So opt for certain types of music designed to improve your mood, be calming and focus, and you’ll be far more likely to have success. We recommend any of the following to get your study groove on:

  • Lo-fi beats
  • Nature sounds
  • Classical music
  • Instrumental music

Stick some noise-canceling headphones on, put on something scientifically backed for study, and you’ll soon be in the zone. This is ideal for those studying in less-than-ideal circumstances, and a specific study playlist can have you in the right mood in seconds. It’s all about training your brain.

3. Get a change of scenery

While your home may feel like the obvious and most convenient place to study, changing your surroundings can help you look at materials with fresh eyes. Whether stepping outside to enjoy the good weather, traveling to the library or simply changing rooms, putting yourself in a new environment can quickly and effectively put you in that all-important study mindset.

As far as study techniques go, this science-backed option is easy and practical but can make a real difference simultaneously. If you’re stuck in a single room, going from your bed to your desk or vice versa can be a small but significant step from relaxing to studying – something important for students.

4. Sweat beforehand

We all know that exercise is good for us. But it’s even good for our brains when sitting down to study. If you work up a sweat before you get studying, your brainpower will get a boost – at least, according to scientists. Pumping some iron or going for a job before you sit down with your schoolwork has made you more open, alert, and ready to learn.

There are also plenty of benefits to exercising regularly in general. But if you’re already planning to hit the gym, schedule a study session right after to reap the rewards. With more oxygen and nutrients filling your brain, focusing and getting those essential facts and figures into your head will be far more manageable.

5. Give mindfulness a go

According to researchers at UC Irvine, stress can seriously affect our ability to hold information. It’s why we forget things, get flustered, and more when in a stressful situation. Before you study, bringing that stress down is a great start to being in the right mindset. Mindfulness and meditation are excellent ways to reduce stress and feel more serene, but a few deep breaths can do the trick too.

Studying can be stressful, but taking breaks little and often can help reduce stress and take time away from your books if you feel more anxious or stressed. Take care of yourself, and you’ll soon find it far easier to take care of your studies too.

6. Don’t leave studying to the last minute

It can be tempting to forget all about those class notes until a few weeks before exams. But studying soon after a lecture or lesson can greatly increase your chances of remembering what you’ve learned. The sooner, the better. Research has suggested that reviewing material within those 24 hours gives up to 80% retention rates.

Also known as interval studying, these study methods require you to hit the books consistently every week. While it may seem like a big commitment, it’s more than worth the positive outcomes in the long term. Study for a half-hour a day, and you’ll soon know all the material and the back of your hand.

7. Put yourself on a schedule

Scheduling your life has many benefits. From reducing stress to improving productivity, keeping a planner and schedule handy can help keep you on track for everyday life and study. Maintain a weekly schedule from Monday-Friday and a little study time on weekends, and you’ll soon find yourself top of the class with all the information you’re retaining.

It’s been proven scientifically that schedules can increase your ability to keep information and even improve your test results. In countries like Japan, where study schools and scheduled study are commonplace, testing results are far higher. So why not follow their lead and create a daily schedule? Don’t forget to include time for fun and work for the best results.

8. Once you’re studying, don’t get distracted

Organization is another study tip that is key to success. Ensure your study station is equipped with all you need, and you won’t have to break out of that bubble before your study time ends. Prepare yourself to study by gathering all the resources you need. Put your phone on charge in another room, and go to the bathroom before you begin.

If you consider your study time to be in a ‘personal bubble’ that you can’t leave until the time is up, you’ll find it far easier to stay focused. Have all you need with you to study, and put a ‘do not disturb sign on the door if needed. Distraction is easy, but staying focused is more than worth shutting off the world for an hour.

9. Don’t wait for inspiration to strike

Few people feel inspired by the thought of studying. So if you’re sitting around waiting for that lightning bolt to strike, you will surely be disappointed. Instead, treat studying as you would an athletic event. Consider it a duty you must complete to stay trained, as opposed to something enjoyable. Few people enjoy training or studying – but it’s a means to an end.

As mentioned above, it’s scientifically proven that studying on a schedule is the best way. If you’re waiting for inspiration, your studying will soon be all over the place. Regimented studying is far more effective, so find motivation elsewhere for a better chance of success. Perhaps it’s a personal reward or an excellent grade, but motivating yourself toward that goal should be your top priority.

10. A neat notebook means better grades

Researchers tell us that a well-managed, properly kept notebook can make all the difference to your grades. Being able to quickly and easily find your notes – and read them – is key to a productive study session, so ensure your notes are correctly organized and kept relevant to each subject. A neat notebook can ensure you don’t spend half your study session scrabbling around for information, which can be a real time-saver.

You can even use your notebook to keep a schedule and diary of your semester, making it easy to know when tests and exams are coming up. Ensuring no notes are lost also ensures you have all the details you need, so always keep them safe.

11. Don’t forget to use study tools

Study tools are often overlooked forms of study techniques, but if you’re wondering how to study for a test, they can be a valuable resource. Post-its, flashcards, and more can be excellent ways to get that vital information into your head beyond simply reading off the page. The actual act of putting together flashcards, as well as rehearsing them, helps you to retain that information better.

Whether you make your own or buy purpose-made tools, investing time into making new ways to study is never time wasted. Work with a classmate to recall information, and your grades will soon improve as your knowledge does.

12. Take practice exams

Mock tests, or practice exams, are an excellent way to test how your knowledge translates to paper. Many resources are available online to help you, from past tests to online exams. Scientific research has shown that practice tests are not only suitable study methods in general. They also enable you to quickly find gaps in your learning and focus your studies around those weaker areas.

If you’re studying specifically for exam season, practicing that exact situation can also reduce stress, improve performance, and ensure you know what you’re letting yourself in for. Studying is more straightforward when none of the processes is unknown to you. Past tests can offer valuable answers that you may otherwise not have studied.

13. Teach others what you’ve learned

According to scientists, becoming a teacher can help you learn your material better than ever. Teach your parents, classmates, or teacher what you’ve learned, and you’ll find it sticks in your brain far better. Speaking about what we’ve learned to cement it in our memory making it more difficult to forget.

Creating worksheets, doing live streams, or even just voice-recording your lectures are all ways to use teaching as one of your study techniques. It may seem unpleasant initially, but this method can achieve results if done correctly and with enthusiasm.

14. Forget multitasking – studying needs 100% focus

Put away your phone, forget your instant messenger, and shut your pets out of your room. For the best possible study environment, you need 100% focus. It doesn’t matter how good you think you are at multitasking. Your results will never be as good as those studied in the ideal environment. Get rid of distractions, and you’ll be on track to improve your grade.

Smartphones, in particular, can be a significant source of distraction. So, switch to airplane mode or move it out of your room for the optimal study environment. That group chat, those emails, or social media can wait an hour while you get into those study materials.

15. Find what works for you

While many scientists have dismissed ’learning styles,’ certain people find it easier to study in specific ways. Give yourself plenty of time to find what works for you, and you’ll be far more likely to succeed. Maybe it’s music and an exercise routine. Perhaps it’s closing yourself off in silence for a full hour. Perhaps it’s moving outside if it’s sunny.

However, your students choose to study, and getting those hours in is more important than ever when it comes to success. Provide them with the list above, and offer encouragement and support. With your help and these study tips, they’ll know how to study for a test effectively in no time.