How to Study Effectively

How to Study Effectively

Studying is a necessary evil when you are in college and so we have put together some handy study techniques and advice including how best to study for exams in this guide.

Effective Study Skills

There is a skill to studying and it definitely doesn’t involve last minute cramming. Last minute cramming will do nothing but heighten your anxieties and nerves even further and cause you to not achieve your full potential.

The Impact of Exam Anxiety on Student Health:
  • 1 in 2 students say they have skipped meals.
  • 2 in 3 students say they have trouble sleeping.
  • 1 in 7 students say they have drank alcohol as a way of dealing with exam anxiety.
  • Almost 2 in 3 students say they have never received any support in dealing with exams.

How to Study for Exams

Exam time can really cause a lot of stress and anxiety for students. This doesn’t need to be the case because if you are organised and prepare well in advance including having realistic goals, studying for exams will just be the end part of a longer process. Below are some things you can do in order to achieve efficient and effective study for exams:

● A Good Study Area

Find a space that is conducive to you getting your study covered effectively. For some people that means a quiet area away from distractions. Distracting situations can include having a desk located beside a window with lots of things happening outside. A quieter location could be somewhere which is dedicated to study such as a library or supervised classroom. Others find that studying in groups helps them but this can get distracting so it is best kept for topics that you are finding specific trouble with that studying in a group can help to improve.

Other Study Techniques for Getting Ahead

How to Study Effectively: Use Technology to Assist

With the proliferation of technology and specifically smartphones and tablets, there are a multitude of smartphone and tablet apps out there that can also help to improve your study techniques and study more efficiently. Some also help to save time in terms of note gathering or generally just make the whole studying process more streamlined. Here are just some that are likely to help!

For Note Taking


Available on: IOS and Android Cost: Free What is it? Is a cross-platform, free app designed for note taking, organising and archiving. Features:
  • Offers quick ways to jot down important information and highlight specific text.
  • Save documents, images and links that you find online.
  • Sync notes to your laptop or tablet from those on your phone.
For Citations


Available on: IOS and Android Cost: Free What is it? An app that allows you to automatically create citations for your bibliography with over 7,000 citation styles. Features:

  • Instantly create citations by scanning book barcodes with your phone’s camera.
  • Use the search tool to create citations for books and websites.
  • Export to email so you can send your citations to your inbox quickly.


Available on: IOS and Android Cost: Free What is it? Often called the ‘flashcard app’, it contains free study aids on almost any subject. Features:
  • Provides quizzes and games to help with revision.
  • Create your own flashcards.
  • Listen to automatic pronunciations in 18 different languages.
For Organising Your Study Time


Available on: Desktop, IOS and Android Cost: Free What is it? An app that allows you to schedule and organise reminders and notes. Features:
  • Place tasks into ‘projects’, so you can break up your study into sections – giving yourself suitable time to complete each part.
  • Organise your weeks into tasks.
  • Sync your events to compatible wearables.

Sunrise Calendar

Available on: Desktop, IOS and Android Cost: Free What is it? A free calendar app made for Google Calendar, iCloud and Exchange. Features:
  • Automatically syncs between your phone, tablet and computer.
  • Connects with all your apps like Facebook, Evernote, Foursquare, TripIt, Todolist and Trello.
  • Includes Meet, a keyboard that lets you select available time slots in your calendar and send them without leaving the app.

Studying Effectively: 3 Tips for When You Just Don’t Want to Study!

How to Study Effectively: Study Tips

1. Limit Your Study Time

If you really hate studying but you know it has to be done, it is very important to limit your session time. If you assign yourself 30 minutes study, you will know in your head at the outset that you need to dedicate that allotted time. If however, you sit down with an open-ended plan to just study with no time appointed to it, you are likely to get distracted and lack determination as you sit down for what you perceive to be for example an endless afternoon of study. Focusing your time in shorter bursts may result in increased productivity but just ensure to do enough of these shorter bursts of study to cover all that you need to.

2. Moment of Reflection

In between your study sessions, take something to reassess your goals and understand why you are studying. Ultimately it is to gain a qualification and get yourself on your chosen career path so you need to take the time to visualise that end point as it will help to raise your motivation. For some, reading quotes of inspirational people helps them to see through the fog or try watching some inspiring talks online, of which there are many.

3. Exercise & Socialise

Studying requires immense concentration in order for it to be effective. With all that concentration in steady streams, it’s important to free your mind in order to move to the next topic and take that in. As a result, it’s advised that you should take some time for exercise, be that a trip to the gym; a walk around the park listening to music; an afternoon chat with a friend outside your study group, whatever it is that relaxes you.

Studying Effectively: Creating a Study Plan

A study plan is an organised schedule that a student creates that schedules planned study times and learning goals. Creating a study plan allows you to have something to follow and it will allow you to track your commitment and progress. This will ensure that you have something to work towards; it will help you to discipline yourself and may help to instil commitment and accountability in order to achieve the goals that you set. Ultimately you create it so that you have a planned path to follow and that your study has a journey to it allowing you to easily see what you need to cover and when in order to achieve the goals that you set yourself.

Every student will develop a different study plan and there is no correct study plan for everyone. When creating your personalised study plan, it does need to be achievable: there is no point in setting unrealistic study goals; it will only increase your frustration levels and the whole exercise will be futile. Remember, every student studies differently, so the amount of time you need to study will differ from the time your classmates devote to studying.

Here is an example of a study template from the Florida State University which you can replicate for your own plan.

5 Tips to Make an Effective Study Plan Schedule

  1. Print out your template or make it easily accessible so that it is always to the forefront of your mind.
  2. Prioritise those tasks that you must do.
  3. Be specific about the tasks that you want to achieve so instead of detailing one segment as ‘study biology’, include something like ‘do exam questions on human reproduction’.
  4. Leave a couple of free slots later in the week so that you can allow for some time to cover unexpected assignments or other things that crop up.
  5. Practice using past exam papers as this will give you an indication of patterns, language and tone used in their phrasing.

Whatever method you use to achieve your study and revision goals, the fact that you are willing to research on how to improve them indicates that you wish to better yourself. This indicates determination and resolve so in the long term it’s likely you will succeed in your goals whether that be to study medicine, study dentistry or whatever. We wish you luck and hope that this has been of help to you!