nav-left cat-right

More Interesting, Efficient, and Effective Ways to Study


As the semester comes to a close, many of us are looking ahead to the dreaded final exams. We have to remember everything from the classes we slept through, read books we never even bought, and somehow convince our bodies that sleep just isn’t that important.Or, we could study less, even have a little fun, and still do well on exams, just by tweaking how we study.

As I’ve mentioned before, most people don’t study effectively by sitting and reading notes over and over, until they’re fried in our brains. The human brain doesn’t work that way. It’s a more complex, disordered, and fun-loving being. Memories of things you do and did, and enjoyed, are always more prevalent to your brain than to that 80-page study guide you wrote for your exam.

That said, it’s relatively easy to tweak your study habits ever so slightly, and make studying more interesting, efficient and effective. There are a ton of ways out there, but I’ll give you seven that have worked for me. (These aren’t all more fun than a barrel of monkeys, but they’re all more interesting than sitting and reading notes over and over.)

1. Repetitive Repetition Take everything you’ve done in the semester. Notes, homework, papers, etc. Now fit all of that onto one page, front and back. Fill it with the information you really need to know. This will inform how you study, as well as help you look past the pointless details and really get to the heart of the information. This shouldn’t be the only studying to do, but it’s a great place to start, and a way to focus yourself.

2. Play Teacher Find someone who knows nothing about what you’re studying for. Then teach them about it. In figuring out how to make someone else understand the material, you’ll do wonders for your own mastery. It’ll stick in your brain better, as well as give you a clearer view of the subject. Run through all the critical course material at warp speed, and you’ll be amazed how much you learn from hearing yourself talk.

3. Draw I wrote a bit about this in a previous post, but it merits repeating: most people’s brains do not work in a linear fashion. This doesn’t work with all subject, but will with many. Draw pictures, or mind maps, or diagrams, or graphs of the material. The repetition associated with putting it together, as well as the visual act, will help you memorize and understand material in a whole new way. It engages the other side of your brain, which is critical to really remembering material. What you draw doesn’t matter- just let the artist come out.


4. Headphone Osmosis For anyone with an iPod, there are a vast number of resources out there to help you learn, from Sparknotes to videos to podcasts. For a huge list of things you can do with your iPod to help you learn and study, check out “100 Ways to Use Your iPod to Learn and Study Better.

5. Reward Thyself Give yourself something for studying, that isn’t just more work to do. When you sit down, decide that if you study hard for 40 minutes, you’re going to eat some ice cream. Or, if you study hard for 2 hours, you can go to bed. This helps focus you on the task at hand, keep you from being distracted, and also lets you have some fun in your life. If all you do is study, burnout happens incredibly fast. Balance it with friends, fun, and rest, by rewarding yourself for a job well done.

6. Bingo! Many classes offer “key terms” for tests, or terms you need to be able to define on the exam. My favorite way to study these is with a group. Make a bingo board for yourself out of the key terms, whatever size you want. Then, have someone read definitions out loud, and you find the term on your bingo sheet when you know who or what it is. Play for money, prizes, bragging rights, whatever- it’s a fun game, gets you engaged in really knowing the terms, and helps you remember for the test. Prep time on this one’s a little long, but it’s worth it.

7. Fight Pick a friend, and a topic for a class (this one may not work with, say, math). Pick sides, and have a debate with each other. This is great for essays, papers, and any kind of test requiring you to elaborate on one or a few points. Debating, even a side you know is wrong, is an incredible useful skill, and does wonders for your ability to reason through information on a test. If you can argue both sides, you can argue one side much more effectively.

Studying works the same way for most people: it consists of reading, reading, reading, and reading. It shouldn’t. With these tips, and many more that you can come up with, you can make studying both more fun and more worthwhile.

How do you study? Do you have any unconventional methods? Share them with us in the comments.

Share and Enjoy:
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • RSS
  • Print

Related posts:

  1. 10 Ways to Cram Successfully
  2. 3 Effective Methods to Study for Exams
  3. The five most deadly study tips of all time
  4. Use your Desktop Background to Study for Exams
  5. Study Smarter This Year by Discovering your Learning Style

28 Responses to “More Interesting, Efficient, and Effective Ways to Study”

  1. The reward thyself works for me. And I will definetly check the 100 ways of using your iPod out!

    Something I do, is to find a really hard subject, and just challenge myself to understand it. Just focus, until I’ve mastered it.

    But in the end, you just need to practive over and over again, these fun methods are temporary. But for that time, they are fun!

  2. Great tips! With Gearfire here in action, how can we not make straight As! Thanks guys!

  3. Dicki says:

    I usually read the text and after that I paraphrase the text. This method is helping. -)

  4. cat says:

    AS for me, when I’m laerning something, after reading I’m trying to retell the text

  5. David Pierce says:

    Thanks for the comments! Retelling the text is critical, it’s one of the ways I study the most.

    @TheDutchSchoolKid- I actually disagree that eventually, you need to practice over and over again. At least for me, it’s more important to do it differently than it is to do it a million times- for whatever reason, my brain picks up the outliers more than the repetition. But that could just be me. :) Thanks for the comments!

  6. Too bad You haven’t posted this when I was still in college, it would have helped a lot!
    Thanks anyway :)

  7. Dicki says:

    On the Eve of the New Year Party I was given a speech to greet the guests.Some minutes before I was reading your didactic stuff PLAY TEACHER.THE idea struck me at once.It took me 15 minutes to learn the words. I pronounced it fast and slowly,loudly and quietly.I was a real compere in some minutes.THe guests were impressed by my speech,and I was amazed how much I did paying a little contribute of time.

  8. I think revision occupies one of the most important part of pur studies!

  9. Those are great tips and shou;d make studying more fun remember to get enough rest or that test is going to be difficult that one of the biggest mistake students make studying to late

  10. Bill says:

    Some really ingenious ways to study here! I especially like #7.

  11. Vlastimil says:

    I am writing extract from reading and extract from extract and so on. It makes me pay attention, think, understand and remember simultaneously. I keep all the ‘extracts’ for rehearsal which is fast and effective then.

  12. Good and really effective ways of study. I forward this article to my relative who is science student. Thanks.

  13. Interesting way for reading. These information are very helpful for students. Thanks.

  14. Sometimes i feel study is boring. I like your tips for study. Thanks.

  15. devon piscos says:

    wow. nice works ^^

  16. Mark Watson says:

    nice ..

  17. Interesting way of study. I like your tips. Thanks for information.

  18. stupid boy says:

    f u ck you! i did all of that and failed! hope your father rapes you all!

  19. Thank you very much! It helps me lot!

  20. All you need to remember is work smart and not hard!

  21. Heather says:

    I love learnding! XD lol

  22. rraju says:

    thanks but it is tough to do these things !!!! dont want to look at the books!!! its horrible to sit infront of the book

  23. Flowers says:

    Great post. Thanks. I think that I’ll follow your advice.

  24. sara says:

    great tips……i would say for somthing like math…..u could study all the formulae, but, you should always do practice questions/equations…..same for physics….or maybe chemistry

  25. I wake up early, around 5 am and read my notes. Try it and you’ll be surprise how your notes will retain in your memory. I use to do this and end up having perfect scores on my tests. I’m not sure of the rationale behind it but it really works!

  26. KP says:

    I love these! I have a big history test that is very important to my grade on Friday, so I’ve been researching ways to study that will be fun.

    I was on Y!A and one was you make up questions that could be on the test with the material you are given. You put a few questions on each stair of your house and at the top of the stairs, you put something you really want, like cookies. If you answer all the questions on the first step correctly, you move on. If you mess up on a step, you need to go all the way back to the beginning.

    This is one I’m definitely going to use!

  27. Hailey says:

    I agree with KP, the question on Y!A really changed the way I think about studying!! it’s rlly brilliant. Can’t wait to try it. Wow, I’ve never been excited to study before :)
    Oh, and all the tips above are great to. Especially the “play the teacher” and “Bingo”

  28. Studying is NOT boring .It gives information.Am I CORRECT?