Study Habits: How and Why to Practice Effective Studying
Whether in public or private school, most students encounter the same basic curriculum. Granted, the curriculum has changed over the years, but the fundamentals still apply. Math, language arts, history, geography, and sciences are core subjects. Some students will achieve advanced levels in these topics but all will need to develop effective study habits to achieve their best.
Schools cover core and niche subjects well but don’t always address how to study them. Let’s look at what good study habits are, and how to practice them.
Why are study habits important?
Good study habits help don’t just help in school; they help in professional settings and life in general. Practicing good habits regularly allows you to be your most productive and efficient. Successful students tend to become successful professionals, and this success is often built on well-established habits. The best study habits turn into good habits for any time.
Unfortunately, students do not generally learn study skills in school. With rare exceptions, there are few classes in either public or private schools focused on them. Students are expected to develop these skills on their own. All students develop habits, but many of these habits can be counterproductive. For example, countless parents complain about their students doing homework while watching television. That is a study habit, just not a good one.
Developing good study habits early usually leads to retaining and using these habits throughout life. Middle school and college chemistry students are at different levels, but both can use the same habits to learn the material. A CEO and a high school civics students have different needs, but both need to be organized and focused to reach their goals.
What are the Best Study Habits?
The best study habits include:
- Time management
- Developing a personal learning style
- Clear note-taking
- Studying efficiently
- Working effectively with teachers tutors
Success in every part of life requires good organization. Getting and staying organized allows students and adults alike to accomplish tasks efficiently. It’s more than having a tidy desk; it involves tasks like managing multiple work spaces at school, effective record keeping, and clear labeling.
Time Management is also an excellent habit for both students and professionals. It minimizes stress, errors, and time waste. Time management begins with tools as simple as a calendar or egg timer. Practicing macro (weeks, months) and micro (days, hours, tasks, projects) time management helps students complete tests within the time limit, and project managers track progress on year-long projects.
Developing a personal learning style is important because everyone learns differently. Some students do best with visual examples. Others prefer dialogue with teachers. Some learn everything they need from reading books straight through. Flashcards, mnemonics, and memory tricks can all help different kinds of learners. Find what works for you, and build your study plan around that.
Clear note-taking is essential. Remember, you’re taking notes so you can reference them while you study later. Make sure you can easily read and understand them. There are different ways to do this, so play around.
Studying efficiently means you can retain, repeat, apply, and synthesize information. Studying efficiently tends to happen when your other good habits are in play. Are you organized and managing your time well? Do you know how you best learn and retain information? Are your notes clear and easy for you to understand?
Finally, working effectively with teachers and tutors is key to getting the most out of your education. Trust your educators, and trust the process.
How Can I Improve My Study Habits?
It’s never too late to start improving your habits. It takes a conscious effort, self-discipline, and hard work. Most people, adults included, have a difficult time doing this on their own. It’s hard to be constructive and self-critical, and it’s easy to be complacent. Regardless, every person reaches a point in life where it is too challenging to keep track of accomplish your goals without a plan for doing so. We need to keep changing and growing, and good habits help this.
Start by getting familiar with the habits discussed here. Ask yourself: am I already practicing these? How can I be more effective? Take inventory of your answers. Then, think of simple steps and begin practicing them, one at a time. For example, if you need to work on organization, buy or repurpose folders to organize your notes and resources by subject. If you need to improve time management, get a weekly planner that works for you and fill it out at the start of every week. Regular practice is key.
Parents can help too. Parents should collaborate with students, learning about effective study habits, and working to integrate them into daily life. Practicing these habits together helps parents stay involved and informed about student needs and goals. One simple strategy is to have weekly planning sessions, where students and parents discuss their goals, schedule, and what they’re anticipating for the week.
Finally, consider seeing a tutor. Tutors specialize in maximizing study efficiency, and focus on an individual student’s learning needs to develop a personalized study plan. A fundamental part of any good plan comes down to practicing good habits.
To learn more, visit our academic tutoring page.
Practice Makes Permanent
Developing and practicing these habits makes them permanent. The school year often gets interrupted, through scheduled breaks, through the summer, and through snow days. Sometimes, extenuating circumstances shut schools down and require students to study from home. In these gaps, it’s easy for students to fall off their studies and lose the knowledge they gained in school. However, if you practice these skills regularly, it’s much easier to stay on top of your studies, even when school isn’t in session.
These steps will help you develop positive study habits. Think of it as investing in yourself. Each skill takes time to learn but ultimately saves time and energy in the long run. That is what it’s all about: building an efficient and effective process that allows you to accomplish all of your work while opening up time for the fun things in life.