The Most Effective Study Habits


Amanda Rodriguez, Editor

Studying? Fret No More!School is in session! This is the time to enjoy every aspect of your college experience. That includes studying. Don’t forget, you also need to pass your classes in order to graduate!Not sure how to study? No need to fret! Here is a guide to the most effective study habits to pass all your classes.Be ProactiveYour growth as a student begins the moment you step foot in the classroom at the beginning of the semester. Oftentimes, each concept builds off one another. You must understand one idea before you learn the next. As the semester progresses, your consistency in class will determine your final grade. Eliminating procrastination and establishing a good work ethic from the start will lead you to nothing but success.The end of the semester generally concludes with a final exam. Stephen Baglivio, an adjunct professor in student success at Ocean County College, notes that finals indicate how much information students absorbed throughout the class. “I think that there should be some progression down the road to show that you’ve done the work and show that you can produce the results back,” Baglivio said. Getting a jump start on this process will help you feel more prepared as the semester progresses.Space It OutSpacing out study sessions is an efficient way to retain information. Cramming often leads to more stress than anything. Trying to reteach yourself all the information from class in one night ultimately exhausts your brain. “Don’t bunch all of your work together. Just focus on one class each day,” Valerie Hine, Ocean County College student, said. Giving yourself time to grasp each concept thoroughly will ensure your ability to display your knowledge.Baglivio explains how studying five different times for half an hour each is more effective than studying once for two and a half hours. “The more you study the more you forget. You want to make sure you reinforce some of the information by studying it a few times,” Baglivio said. Giving yourself time between studying allows your brain to absorb the most important ideas.Study with a GroupLearning material only during class time may not be enough to lock every concept in your brain. Studying outside of class is a good way to ensure you are actually absorbing the knowledge. Creating a study group can reinforce topics initially difficult to grasp. Try explaining a concept to someone verbally.“Actually hearing it out loud in my own voice definitely reinforces the knowledge,” Martina Higgins, University of Massachusetts Amherst graduate, said.When studying with others, you are challenged to deliver information in different ways. “The best way to remember things is to use as many senses as possible. To see something, to hear something, to say something uses more than one sense than just reading it,” McCormack said. A group setting allows for each of these senses to be stimulated, creating an effective learning environment.Minimize DistractionsIf studying with a group does not appeal to you, engaging in your studies in a quiet environment may be a better option. Hine prefers to study in a private room. Limiting outside distractions increases the level of focus required to successfully absorb information. Hine recommends shutting off your phone. “I feel like that’s the one thing I get distracted by the easiest,” Hine said.Sydney Buckley, a junior at The College of New Jersey, explains her desire to study outside of her dorm room away from her roommates. Limiting her time with others who could be a distraction helps her to remain focused. “If I stay in my room there’s no way I’m getting work done. I definitely have to find space outside where I’m most comfortable. If it’s a nice day, I’ll go to the library to study,” Buckley said. Setting those boundaries with herself and her roommates only sets Buckley up for success when it comes to getting good grades.Fuel Your BodyTaking care of yourself is an essential part of the studying process. Instead of relying on caffeine, try eating healthier meals on the days leading up to that final exam. “If you’ve been running on energy drinks and coffee all day, you need something more nutritious. Such things as that can increase levels of stress and increase levels of anxiety even more,” Kelly Petrolis of the Counseling Center said.As a graduate with a Bachelor of Science in nutrition, Higgins emphasizes the importance of eating right, especially during the stress of finals season. “Brain fog is something that is very real that can come directly if you are undereating. A lot of students prioritize the studying over the meals, but I’m going to encourage taking that break to actually sit down and have a meal away from the studying. This can be really refreshing for yourself,” Higgins said.Self-CareAmid your studying, leave yourself time to spend with yourself. Participating in activities that enrich the mind and body outside of your studies is beneficial. Not only will you feel less stressed, but you will be able to absorb information with greater efficiency. Try taking a walk or hitting the gym when you feel overwhelmed. You may find yourself refreshed and ready to tackle another study session with a clear mind.Taking care of yourself during the studying sessions is helpful, but it might not be enough. Stress often comes over students during the test-taking process. Practicing self-care in these moments is imperative. Barbara McCormack of the Student Support Services explains how breathing exercises can be beneficial to the brain and body during a test. “Sometimes when you’re in the middle of taking an exam and your brain starts to flitter and flatter, one of the best things you can do for your whole body is breathe deeply. By breathing deeply, you put more oxygen in your blood, therefore you put more oxygen in your brain and things tend to work better,” McCormack said.Prioritizing your rest is another form of self-care. Getting enough sleep will make you more productive. It allows your body and your brain to reset after some intense studying. “Your brain will function so much better if it is well-rested. I’ve never been someone that goes to the library until one or two in the morning. There comes a point when your body checks out,” Higgins said. Understanding your limits should establish your self-care necessities. Listen to the subtle cues your body and mind leave you. Take the time to ensure you feel good before you study.Ask For HelpAdmitting that you need help is often intimidating, especially when it comes to studying. However, there is a wide network of people willing to provide assistance. At Ocean County College, the Tutoring Center is a valuable resource for students who would like to work outside of their classes. Reinforcing knowledge in another space can clear up previous confusion by introducing new ways of thinking.“We acknowledge the struggle. Students want to be in a comfortable space. They need relationships of trust with the tutor. Those components are huge in allowing a student to then say, ‘Okay. I’m comfortable in the space, I’m ready to take on some challenges in terms of absorbance of the subject,’” Kim Caballero of the Tutoring Center said.Most teachers and faculty members have been in your position to get to where they are now. Generally, they are willing to provide assistance to students when needed. “We’ve all been students once before. I think a lot of us can understand more than what a student may think at first,” Petrolis of the Counseling Center said. Don’t hesitate to reach out. Take the first step and ask for help when you need it. It will pay off in the end.Mindset is KeyCollege is stressful. And that stress will not go away after you finish school. However, learning how to shift your thinking to focus on the positive will carry you far beyond the classroom. It is nearly impossible to complete school without some sort of struggle along the way. A failed test or poor performance does not mean you are a bad student. Instead, learn from those experiences and challenge yourself to do better the next time around.“When we focus so much on the grade, we sometimes get really wrapped up in that. When we get a less desirable grade than what we hoped for, we can really place a lot of emphasis on that. Tell yourself that because you didn’t get it this time doesn’t mean that you’re unable to understand the material,” Petrolis said.Higgins understands the pressure of doing well on her exams. Her final exam grades were a determining factor in her acceptance to Boston University for the graduate program. Higgins believes that grades are essential to a student’s success, however, they do not define the student as a human being.“We all do so much as students beyond the classroom. Many of us have to work. Many of us have to support ourselves and are part of other things that shape us into who we are. So have confidence in yourself and always put your best foot forward,” Higgins said.Opportunities for growth are all around you. It is up to you whether or not you choose to take them. About the journey of learning, McCormack noted, “Education doesn’t end when you leave the campus. It’s your whole life.”With these study habits in mind, passing your classes is sure to be a breeze. Not only will you feel good about your semester, but you can enjoy your time away from school knowing you gave your best.