Have a big test coming up? Or maybe you need to master a new skill or piece of knowledge for work.
With the most effective study methods, you can study and retain that knowledge effectively.
Yes, there is a science to studying.
And if you’re not using the right studying techniques, you could be wasting your time and setting yourself up for failure when it’s time to take a test or give your presentation.
That’s why it’s important to understand the different effective study methods available. If you’re trying to apply the wrong methods for the task at hand, it’ll be like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.
Don’t worry, though, we’re here to help.
We’ve reviewed all of the most pertinent data and research on the subject and narrowed down a list of the most effective study methods you can use to learn just about anything.
And when you’re done reading through these study strategies, you might even consider taking an online course, like International Open Academy’s “Supersonic Study Skills” class that will help you learn even more about developing and honing your skills.
Tired of studying for hours and not seeing results? With this powerful online course from International Open Academy, world-memory champion Yanjaa Wintersoul will teach you her proven methodology for highly effective studying, with tips that help with everything from time management and overcoming procrastination to memorization techniques.
What are the Most Effective Study Methods?
Here are research-backed study methods and tips that will help you retain information as effectively as possible. Remember, you want to study smarter, not harder!
1. Make a dedicated study area
One of the most important study tips is to create a dedicated study space for yourself.
When you have a specific place to study, you’ll be less likely to procrastinate, since you’ll know that you only have limited time to study in that specific spot.
It’s all about having a space where you enter the mindset of studying whenever you go there…a space where you can find motivation to study.
For instance, when you sit on the couch in your living room, that puts you in the mindset that it’s time to watch TV. Or when you lay down in bed, that puts you in the mindset of going to sleep. Your study spot should put you in the mindset of getting ready to learn.
Your study area should be:
- Quiet: Make sure your study area is free from noise and that you eliminate distractions.
- Well-lit: A bright and well-lit study space is ideal, as it will help you stay focused.
- Comfortable: Make sure your study area is comfortable, so you can focus on your work without being uncomfortable.
2. Review study materials shortly before study sessions
When you study, prioritize the information so it becomes more and more familiar and accessible to your brain and memory.
Putting in effort at the last minute while studying for a test will be far less effective than doing so earlier on, while the material is still fresh in your mind.
So review study materials at least one day before study sessions begin to ensure the most successful testing experience.
3. Identify the important information before studying
Before you study, take a few minutes to come to an understanding of what’s really going on.
Use questions like “What are the main ideas?” and “What are the study goals I need to accomplish?” to help guide your study sessions toward learning the most important points and concepts instead of just memorizing everything in order.
4. Overcome the “Forgetting Curve” by reviewing info regularly
One of the most common study problems is that people tend to forget information over a period of time.
In fact, studies have shown that humans lose about half of their newly learned within just a few days if they don’t regularly review the material.
Research shows this forgetting curve (a term coined based on a study by psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus) can be overcome by reviewing study materials regularly — starting with reviewing the info within 24 hours of first learning it.
This means taking a little bit of time every day to go over what you’ve learned in the past and any new material, rather than waiting until the last minute before a test. It’s about forming true daily study habits with ongoing, multiple sessions each week.
Regular reviews will help you keep information fresh in your mind and make sure you don’t forget anything important over long periods of time. If you implement this, you’ll find you retain the information far more easily and quickly.
5. Turn your class notes into mind maps
When it comes to study methods, using mind maps can be incredibly effective during the learning process.
Mind maps are graphical representations of ideas and concepts. They allow you to see the big picture, as well as all of the intricate details and relationships between different ideas.
This makes mind mapping an excellent tool for studying. It’s also one of the best note taking methods out there.
When you use mind maps to study, you are able to see the entire topic at a glance, and then drill down into the specific details. You can also identify any relationships or connections between different ideas.
By seeing the big picture and all of the details at once, you can ensure that you have a complete understanding of the material, helping you better absorb information and concepts.
6. Create mnemonic devices (memory tricks) to help with remembering facts or concepts you’re learning
When it comes to remembering information, using mnemonic devices is one of the most effective study methods.
Mnemonic devices are memory tricks that help you remember things by associating them with something else that’s easy to recall.
For example, one popular mnemonic device for remembering the order of the planets is “My very eager mother just served us nine pizzas.”
The sentence helps you remember that Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto are in order from the sun.
Another common mnemonic device is using acronyms like ROY G. BIV to remember the colors of a rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet).
Creating study sheets with mnemonic devices is a study method that’s been shown to not only help students remember information they learn but also increase their understanding of that material.
Mnemonic devices help create more effective study guides and study plans as well.
7. Use the Pomodoro Technique for short, effective studying bursts
The Pomodoro Technique is a learning technique and time management strategy that can be used to study more effectively.
The technique is based on the theory that if we break down time and work on tasks for short intervals with regular breaks, we are able to stay focused and productive.
The Pomodoro Technique breaks down study time into 25-minute intervals (called “Pomodoros”) with 5-minute breaks in between so make sure you have a timer on hand.
During a Pomodoro study session, you focus exclusively on the task at hand and work until the timer goes off.
Then, you take a 5-minute break to relax and rejuvenate before starting another Pomodoro.
It’s a great way to stay focused during short bursts while giving your brain and body regular breaks to prevent burnout.
It also helps you form ongoing study habits as you don’t have to set aside huge chunks of time to review all your learning materials at once.
8. Use the Feynman Study Technique and teach the material to someone else
The Feynman Technique is a study method that helps you learn and remember information by teaching it to someone else.
It’s based on the idea that when we teach something, we are forced to understand it deeply and remember it well.
To use the Feynman Technique, first come up with a way to explain the topic or central concept you’re studying in simple terms.
Then, teach that same information to someone else (a friend, family member, study partner, etc.).
Make sure you ask them to correct you if you make any mistakes.
Repeat this process until you can easily explain the concept in your own words without any mistakes.
The Feynman Technique is a great way to study effectively because it forces you to study the topic until you understand it clearly yourself. This can go a long way to helping you improve recall and comprehension. Additionally, it can help you to identify areas where further study may be necessary and develop creative solutions to problems.
9. Create your own tests and skills to practice before the real thing
One of the best study methods for remembering anything is to create practice tests.
When you’re studying for a test, make a practice test with sample problems that cover all of the same material.
Self-testing will help you to become more familiar with the information and also help you to identify any areas that you may still need to study.
In addition, practicing under test conditions can help you to feel more prepared and confident when it comes time for the real thing. Simulating the testing environment with practice problems will help to reduce any anxiety or stress you may feel when taking a test.
Make sure you time yourself while taking practice tests so you can get an idea of how much time you need to complete the actual test in. This will help to avoid running out of time when the real test happens.
10. Study with a Group
Study groups can be a great way to get different perspectives and ideas on how to study and remember information.
When you study with a group, you can share study tips, help each other come up with mnemonic devices, and test one another on the material.
Group study sessions can also be a fun way to spend time with friends or classmates and can help to build relationships.
Just make sure that the group is studying for the same thing and is at the same level of understanding to avoid confusion. You also want to make sure the people in your study group are actually dedicated to studying and helping one another improve, so it might be a good idea to establish ground rules for the group ahead of time.
A Final Word on Study Methods
There are several different highly effective study methods out there, many of which have proven to help people understand and remember new information.
But these study skills can work together so finding the right one for you may take some trial and error.
Give these studying techniques a shot the next time you have a test coming up, need to master an online course for a certification, or have to learn a new skill or piece of information for work.
Have any questions about these effective study methods? Know other methods that get results? Comment below and let us know.