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17 Kick-Ass Study Tricks That Actually Work

Make studying less painful with these easy tips.

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1. Be prepared.

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"Always have study materials on hand. Any unexpected idle time can be transformed into a quick study session." —Tonya Blankenship, Facebook

2. Set the scene.

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"My biggest piece of advice would be to make homework as enjoyable an experience as possible. Start out with a clean space and a clear idea of what you want to accomplish, then make it comfortable. I like warm tea, candles, comfy socks, and music." —Taylor Nicole Anderson, Facebook

3. Use time wisely.

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"The Pomodoro study technique helps me to get a lot of work done. It’s basically just a timer that sets small study units which last for 25 minutes. During one unit you've really got to stay focused. But that’s not very hard, because those 25 minutes pass quickly. After one unit, you get a five minute break. During that break you can do whatever you want. I like to listen to my favourite songs while filling up my bottle with water, eating a snack etc. After four units you get a longer break. There are a lot of apps that set the timer for you and keep track of all your study sessions." —hhhhhhhh

4. Teach yourself.

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"I study as if I'm teaching the material to a class – swap roles with your teacher. Talking items out as if I had to break it down for a student helps me breaks it down on my own." —Paige Sherman, Facebook

5. Make friends.

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"I meet with my study group once or twice a week to review what we went over in class that week. We usually explain to each other the concepts that were discussed. A good way of knowing that you actually understand something is by explaining it well to someone else." —Mj Dinipal, Facebook

6. Get creative.

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"Do your practice problems on something other than paper. I loved using whiteboards and even going outside and using different coloured chalk to write out the problems on the sidewalk. Bonus is that it keeps you moving while you're studying so you stay more alert and don't get bored as easily." —Laurie Wilson Keller, Facebook

7. Colour code.

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"I use different coloured highlighters for my notes, and I use an outline to organise it. The main idea would be bulleted with one colour, the topic is another colour, and the notes are in another colour. It helps me find everything a lot easier, and I can focus on what I need to study." —trangp40111d435

8. Get physical.

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"Our brains developed to learn from physical contact and direct, physical interaction with the world. Studying/reading from an actual book, turning pages, writing in the margins – it all helps your brain better understand and compartmentalise and learn what you're interacting with." —dougt41717c851

9. Use your language skills.

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"If you know two languages, take notes in the second! Having to translate from one language to another does two key things – you need a deeper understanding to explain it in another language, and it makes you slow down while studying! For example, I study physics at an English university, but translate all my notes into French!" —Kristen Morgan, Facebook

10. Listen to classical music.

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"I wrote all my papers and did all my studying in grad school to classical music, mostly Mozart's 'Requiem'. Not knowing the words to a song means my brain doesn't split its focus. As I did way better in grad school than I did undergrad, I'd say there's something to the theory of classical music making you smarter." —Jasmine Rockwell, Facebook

11. Or white noise.

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"ASMR 'music' is the best. I can’t concentrate in complete silence because my thoughts wander, but even lyric-less music makes me concentrate too much on the music instead of my reading. ASMR gives me noise that doesn’t distract me. I will also go the the student union building during busy hours for the same effect, but if one conversation is louder than the rest I get distracted and go back to ASMR." —heidih4360dcf0a

12. Test yourself.

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"Try to create questions that you think a test of what you're reading would cover. You're likely to be more thorough than your teacher and it'll make sure you've gone over all the salient points." —DeAndrea Harris, Facebook

13. Use apps.

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"Brainscape! It's a flash card app where you can buy pre-made decks or make your own cards, then rank them by how well you know them as you study. Things you don’t know as well will pop up more frequently. Got me through graduate school!" —natalieh417f031d6

"Use Quizlet! It’s free. You can make your own study sets as questions or flashcards, then study the set, play games with them, and take graded tests! It helps tons!" —floelle212

14. Get methodical.

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"CORNELL NOTES!!! Everyone may hate them, but taking notes then rewriting them and following the Cornell Process (which uses columns for note-taking and key words) makes information stick." —nanticokewright

15. Force your focus.

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"If I really can’t focus or don’t want to study, I’ll set an alarm for five minutes and promise myself to work really hard during those five minutes. Then I repeat it until I’ve become really focused." —eleanorak

16. Get some rest.

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"Get enough sleep and never study tired. It doesn't help. Never study the night before the test or right before the test. Instead, eat a good dinner, do a workout or something that relieves stress and get a good night's sleep. Eat a good breakfast and go into the test knowing you did everything you could and there's nothing else you can do but take the test." —Amber Rock, Facebook

17. Do what works for you.

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"Major key: Do what works for you. Some people can sit down and knock out four straight hours of work, others need to do 15 minutes increments; some can study just by reading, others do better by talking their notes out loud. What works for me is reviewing my notes multiple times a day leading up to the test. If it's memorisation of something, then I write them out one by one until I am able to do them all from memory. Hope this helps." —Theodore Wilhelm, Facebook

Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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