Every student dreads studying at some point, right? Whether it’s for a small quiz, a big test, or an exam like the SAT or ACT, getting motivated to study can be tough. But, we’ve found that a lot of students struggle with studying, simply because they don’t have the necessary study skills to be successful. 

We’ve compiled a list of some of the most important study skills that great students have and tips to help you get there too. 

Students with Great Study Skills…

Find Their Focus

Finding both the space, surroundings, and environment that you study in the best is essential. This is different for everyone, so it’s important to keep trying new areas and environments out until you find the right one. 

For some, silence is necessary. They need all the barriers removed. No music, talking, or noise of any kind. 

For others, the silence is deafening and they desperately need stimuli around to keep focused. 

Whatever you need, find a space and environment where you can find your focus and really engage with the content you’re trying to absorb. 

Don’t Just Read, They Fully Engage

Many mistake reading and studying as the same thing when in reality these two things go hand in hand but are not the same thing. Simply reading and highlighting a passage in a book doesn’t help you absorb and really retain new information. Consider a more active approach to studying like:

Creating your own study guide

Making up problems and solving them

Talking through the information to yourself or even with a fellow student

Ask yourself practice questions to see if you can get them right

Space Out Their Studying and Avoid Cramming

Although there are many jokes about cramming for a big test the night before, this rarely ends in an optimal result for students. Our brains simply don’t work this way. We need time to absorb new content and space to work through fresh concepts. 

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill claims that “The most effective practice is to work a short time on each class every day.”

This requires owning your own schedule, building consistent time in for studying, and avoiding procrastination. How can you do this?

Plan out your week on Sunday evenings, writing down big projects or tests coming up. 

From there, you’ll be able to plan out blocks of studying time to get ready. 

Even if you don’t have a big test or project on the horizon, consider building in a few 30-minute blocks during the week to go over notes from your classes. 

Make the Most of Study Time

Students sometimes believe that it requires hours and hours to prepare for a test, when in reality, a few short, but intense study blocks could get the job done faster and just as well – if not better!

Think about your last study session. How long did it last? Were you fully engaged the entire time? Did your mind wander a lot? Did you stay focused or was it tough because you had been trying to concentrate for so long?

Sometimes, study sessions take so much longer than needed because you’re not engaged for the entirety of the session, making them longer and longer to try to get through the same amount of material. 

Try setting a timer for 30-45 minutes blocks. Stay totally engaged and intense for that entire time. Then, stand up, stretch, take a break, and come back later ready to dig in again. This method will not only make your studying go by faster but will actually make it more effective too. 

Great study skills are necessary for a successful high school and college career. For more tips on studying, test prep, and the college planning process, check out our resources page!