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What should I do to help me study better and be more productive during study time?

I really struggle to stay focused during my study time even if it is in the library or in quiet spaces. I have tried listening to music but finding the right song is distracting. Any suggestions? #studytips

Thank you comment icon Try not to listen to music while studying. I often times sit in a comfortable place like my room and make sure to block out noise. Try to give yourself trivia questions or use flash cards to help. If you get it right then give yourself a little reward, nothing too big. For every two or three questions I complete or get right I'll watch one or two minutes of a youtube video as a reward for myself. Just simple little things like that urge you on. Connor

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Roger’s Answer

Hi, S!

Some students seem to find the following advice very helpful, and some find it deeply disturbing or silly. But, hey, whatever works.

Stop thinking about the massive amount of information, concepts, and skills you must absorb. Focus on the critical issues and on scoring points. Start viewing your class as an epic video-game/superhero struggle between the instructor (or at least the upcoming exam) and you. Get prepared and excited for battle! Your job is to foresee how the instructor (or exam) is going to try to trip you up. How do you do this?
1. Pay very close attention to what the instructor says is important in class. Anything that the instructor frets that students don't know is likely to show up on the exam. Anything that is a common misunderstanding that students have is also likely to show up.
2. Any topic that the instructor lights up when explaining is going to be important for you to conquer.
3. With every exam or homework problem: Think about the key points the instructor is trying to get at. Questions are usually not just random.
4. If you or lots of other students got a homework problem wrong, totally own that problem and it's solution.
5. Learn something from every homework problem or problem worked in class or exam question, even if you got it right.
6. Keep in mind on multiple choice exam questions that the wrong answer choices are not just random wrong answers; they are usually wickedly designed to try to trick you with a common misunderstanding of the concept.
7. With exams or homework: One question (and the answer choices) can be a thought trigger for problems above or below it. Don't just erase a problem from your mind once it is done!
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Heather’s Answer

Put on some Mozart or other types of classical music. From my experience if the music has words, it can draw you in. However, if the music is just there as a background noise it won't be as distracting and will allow you the ability to focus more on the studying you should be doing. I personally, listen to whale sounds or rainforests. These noises are calming and not meant to keep my attention but to drown out the noise around me.

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Josee’s Answer

I just got back to school a couple of years ago and it took me a while to get into the right routine. At study time, I found that it was easier to think about everything else but studying. I finally decided to break down my work into small chunk and realized that this way I could focus and get small parts completed faster. For my reading, I would set aside 15-20 minutes every morning when my brain was fresh and found I was able to remember things easier. If you have 1 hour and 3 topics just do about 20 minutes on each this way you know that it is a short time.

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Terence’s Answer

I had a difficult time focusing if it was too quiet, I needed some white noise. I generally studied with music on, but it was always music with no words as the lyrics could get distracting. Basically, I listened to classical music, movie soundtracks/scores, or whatever I could find with no lyrics. It actually helped to have the same playlists going so that I really zoned out on the music.

You really have to figure out what works for you. Do you study better at a certain time of day? Do you need things going around you, or do you need it as static/quiet as possible? Do you study better with or without someone? Do you learn better a certain way, ie reading and then rewriting the concepts, or discussing them with others?

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Tammie’s Answer

Focusing to study for an extended time is tough when there are a million other interesting things you'll want to think about!  I have the same problems with lack of productivity during study time so I found a few ways to help me deal with it:

  1.  Break up studying into small chunks - I noticed someone else had also suggested this, and I would highly recommend it!  Extended studying, especially for a topic that may not peak your interest, will cause you to burn out and/or cause your mind to wander away from that Chemistry test that is scheduled the next morning.  Study for a little while and then take a short break to reward yourself and give your brain a quick rest... but be disciplined enough to not take long breaks or permanent breaks.  :)
  2. Try to figure out what might distract you.  I couldn't do music (of any type), I was a failure at studying with friends (socializing and not studying became a problem!), and I found my Dad was right, I did study better while sitting at a desk.  If you can help to identify what might hinder you from concentrating, remove the obstacles to help you focus.
  3.  When your mind wanders, have a notepad handy to write down the thought as part of a list.  Once you write it down, it might help you to mentally release the thought/idea to address it again at later time so you to regain focus on your homework.  For example, in the middle of studying you suddenly realize you forgot to tell your friend about something crazy that happened earlier in class.  Instead of immediately grabbing your phone to start a text, just make a note of this action item that you can handle after you finish studying.  Don't let small stuff steal your study time!  If you have scheduled time for studying, use it for what you intended.  After you study you can refer to your list and follow up with the items.  Less excuses for distractions!  :)

I hope one of these suggestions might help and I wish you the best with your quest for productivity.  Whatever you do, don't give up trying different ways to find what motivates and helps you to focus.  Don't worry, you will find a way!

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