How to Get Good at Studying

Let’s face it: it’s inevitable that you’ll have to study in college.

Even if you’re the SparkNotes king or you easily ace tests without cracking open one textbook, there’s going to come a final, a pop quiz, a final exam that’s going to force you to have to spend some time looking over your notes if you want to make the grade.

While tests and quizzes may seem frustratingly difficult, they’re there for a reason, and they really do help students commit to memory the things they learn in class. It’s true that studying can feel like an overwhelming task sometimes—particularly if you’re not sure where to start or if you have an aggressive amount of material to go over. We’ve compiled a list of some helpful practices that may give you a leg up on studying.

1. Study in groups

If you have to get a lot of work done, why not do it communally? Sure, there will definitely be times when you need to spend some time by yourself reviewing material, but there’s an element to verbally discussing facts you’ve learned in class with your study mates. Right down everything you need to know on flash cards and quiz each other, use online tools that will help you test your knowledge, or make a game out of it all with prizes at the end.

Whatever method you use to retain the information you need to remember for your test, doing it with friends can make the whole experience a lot more enjoyable. Another plus to studying in groups is that you have several other points of view and ways of thinking to approach certain subjects. If one of you didn’t understand something the professor explained in class, the others can help explain the concept. Teach each other and learn from each other—it will help you commit to memory all the important facts you’ll need to remember when it’s time for the real deal, and you take your exams.

2. Seek help from your professor

Your professors are (hopefully) teaching at your college or university because they have a passion for imparting knowledge and teaching students how to absorb it in the best way possible. If you’re struggling with a concept or even need advice on how to amp up your study skills, your professor is a really great place to start. Helping students learn is one of the main goals for any teacher, so don’t be shy about asking for help.

Most professors have specific office hours, so see if you can set up an appointment to go through some specific questions or confusing topics. Even if you’re simply confused about what exactly to study for the test or quiz you have coming up, starting with your professor is a great place to get your questions answered as directly as possible.

3. Make sure you take breaks

Studying is definitely an investment, and it takes a lot of mental, emotional, and even physical energy to spend such a long amount of time reviewing notes and textbooks. Make sure you take care of yourself, and take breaks. Schedule them if you have to! You’ll learn better if you take the time to let your brain and shoulders relax instead of staying hunched over books in the library for hours. Go outside and take a walk. Grab a milkshake with a friend. Go for a run around the lake. Take a nap. Whatever it is, make sure it’s something that you know will rest and refresh your soul, so that when you come back to your studying, you’ll be ready to rumble.

4. Pick the right time to study

Sure, it’s fun to grab impromptu tacos with your roommates, but waiting until the last minute to study is probably not the best idea. It’s tough to say no to fun things when you’re in the midst of finals week or have a quiz in class the next morning, but scheduling out your study times can give you the freedom to also schedule in some fun things. Try to pick a time of day to study when you’re feeling your best and when you’re not falling asleep at your desk. Your memory will thank you the next morning!