How to study effectively

Have you been struggling to study effectively? Sometimes it seems as if we have more pages to read than time on the clock. However, if you decide to study smart instead of studying hard, you are more likely to get the outcome that you desire. In this article, you will be given strategies on how to study effectively.

Illustration of studying person

Organize your learning process

Organizing your entire learning process is the very first step that you need to take in studying more effectively. You will need to assign a particular place in your home where you get your studying done, determine a schedule that guides your study time, and you will need to decide whether or not you will be studying in a group or by yourself. You will also need to determine what study style is best for you. Having this in place helps you to approach your studying in a more systematic and efficient manner.

Let’s take a look at approaches that can help you to better understand how to learn effectively.

Spaced Repetition

Spaced repetition refers to the practice of allowing space between each study session. By integrating time intervals in your study schedule, you will be able to retain more even if you spend less time studying.

This works by tapping into the potential of what is called the spacing effect. This speaks to the fact that our brain is better able to learn new concepts by using intervals between exposure to the information.

How to study more effectively with this method? Let’s say you have an exam scheduled for next week. You should have a study session today. Your next study session would be two days from today. You should then have a final study session the day before the test.

Active recall

Another way to learn effectively is to employ the principles of active recall. This approach has been found to be the most effective, efficient, and quickest way to study materials. This approach holds that in order to get the best out of studying, you need to actively stimulate your memory. This moves students from a passive approach to studying such as simply reading silently to an approach where the student interacts with the material.

This includes asking and answering questions about the material read and many other tactics. You will find that there are a number of different ways to implement active recall. Two popular methods of active learning are the Read-Recite-Review (3R) method and the Feynman Technique.

Pomodoro Technique and the Importance of Study Breaks

The struggle we all have with procrastination is real and should not be overlooked. One of the best strategies for minimizing distractions is the Pomodoro technique. This approach helps to keep you from becoming overwhelmed by studying and from burnouts. It includes stipulated work intervals and breaks.

An example of studying effectively with the Pomodoro technique is as follows:

This method was developed by Francesco Cirillo. This time management technique was inspired by the popular tomato-shaped kitchen timer.

Breaks are critical to learning effectively. These breaks help to maintain performance while studying, reduce the stress associated with studying, increase focus, and help with memory retention.

Bite-sized learning

Another method to consider when trying to uncover how to study better is bite-sized learning. This method means just what the name suggests – studying information in small bits or spending very short periods studying at a time.

With the constant reduction of attention span among humans in the 21st century, it is becoming more and more important that you spend 1-15 minutes at a time on any given learning objective. The focus that you will have in this short period of time makes learning more effective.

Take notes the right way

There are many powerful reasons that all students should actively take notes in class and while studying. These reasons include:

Taking notes is helpful in keeping your mind alert. By actively writing notes, you are interacting with the information. This helps to reduce drowsiness and prevents distractions. The act of deciphering what information to jot down helps to keep your mind engaged in what you are reading or listening to. Taking notes gives you an opportunity to highlight or emphasize certain bits of information. It also helps with the organization of said information. The highlighted and organized information that you take during class or in a study session helps to make your future study sessions or review of class information much more effective. Taking good notes in class or during a study session provides you with an abbreviated yet potent set of information for effective studying. When it becomes necessary to study for an exam or a test, you can easily draw on your notes and spend less time reinforcing the most important points.

Let’s look at some note-taking techniques to help you effectively study.

The Cornell Note Taking System

This system of note-taking was developed by Walter Pauk in the 1940s. This approach to notetaking is systematic and more condensed. It can be used by high school students or students at the college level.

This method entails a student dividing a page into three sections. A keyword section, the notes section, and a section for a summary of the lesson. In this method, long sentences are avoided while taking notes to reduce the bulk. The keyword section only features words or questions that are most important , which students can easily reflect on when reviewing their notes.

The Outlining Method

This method is ideal for you when your are trying to discover how to study more effectively. It includes creating an outline of the course, article or a book. In this method, information is summarized in brief bullet points. The major points are at farthest to the left while minor points are indented.

The Mapping Method

The mapping method involves the use of a graphic representation of that which is being studied. It shows how the various pieces of information to be absorbed relates to each other. The mind mapping method can be coupled with the outline method or the Cornell note-taking system quite effectively.

Teach someone else

It is always said that the best way to better learn a subject is to teach it to someone else. One of the most effective ways to retain information is to share it with others. You could develop a habit of mentoring students in your class who are having a hard time grasping the concepts being taught.

Another creative way to deepen your understanding of a subject by teaching others is by starting a blog series on the topic that you are studying. You will be able to edify others while being better prepared to succeed in your next exam.


Learning to study more effectively is a critical part of student success. While all of these methods have been proven to be effective, everybody learns differently; therefore, it is best for you to try each of these methods to see which is most effective for you. Fight the temptation to be lazy in this process. By finding the approach that is best for you, your entire academic life can become much smoother.