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How to study effectively - guide to effective learning skills


Effective learning skills

Effective learning skills or effective study skills are what decide your success or failure at college or high school. Most teenagers have difficulty sitting down to study, concentrating on the job at hand and being fully equipped for an exam much in advance. This article here is specially meant for those who have this question how do I study and study well? Or how do I make good grades? Success or failure depends heavily upon how well one is prepared, how efficiently the time at hand has been utilized and how much has been retained at the end of all studying. Here are some comprehensive tips or guide to effective learning skills and getting maximum results out of the time that has been put to use.


How to study effectively?

Prepare the environment around you before you start studying. Make sure that your room is in order, you have completed all your tasks at hand and the time that you have allotted to study will not be disrupted by other activities. Switch off your mobile phone, TV and any other source of distraction. Get your table organized first. Ensure only what you need to study is there on your table.

Prepare your mind for studying   As you are going about preparing your physical environment, prepare your mind for studying. Decide how many chapters you need to study within a given time. Take only what you can accomplish. Do not let anxiety or fear come in even before you start studying. Tell yourself since you have set achievable goals, you can do it. Every time doubts arise during a study period, keep telling yourself that you can study effectively and achieve your goals.

Create a study routine

Have specific hours of study which is purely devoted for studying; make sure that whatever your other activities may be, you are at your desk ready to study. Having a routine creates an effective learning habit. It also mentally prepares you for the task at hand. When you have a set routine, it is easy to tell friends not to call you during these times and also to ensure that you do not get distracted by activities at home. It is very important to keep your mind stuck on to the job at hand. A routine always helps you because you do not have a choice. It also sends clear messages to others that this is your study time and you are not to be disturbed.

a tired student

Effective Time management for effective learning

Set goals Having long term goals will help keep the bigger picture in mind. This will be based more on time frames and the amount of studying to be done during those periods. While setting long term goals make sure you build in a few days into your schedule for any contingencies. Also build in revision time at the end of the term.

Short term goals are very important. They may be for weeks or even days which are very specific and goal oriented. These include having proper time tables at hand. Having a bulletin board will serve as a reminder for topics that need your attention, what has to be completed, where you are lagging behind or what are the specific doubts that need more focus. Having it above your study desk would be extremely useful.

Decide to work according to the schedule you have made for yourself. Your commitment to your goals is what will determine your success.

Difficult chapters first

As you are setting out to study take up the most difficult chapters first. It is easier to plan your time and adjust it accordingly when you tackle the difficult chapters first. It will enable you to devote more time and attention to those areas which need attention. Once you are through with the difficult chapters, the easier chapters do not appear to be Herculean any more so there is less anxiety towards the end.

Summarize or review at the end of every study session

At the end of every study session, revise, review, recollect and summarize what you have studied. Make sure that you have put these points very briefly somewhere on your text or notebook . This will help you remember the key points without having to spend too much time on what you have already studied when you get back to it later.

Take frequent breaks: Never study in marathon sessions, your mind needs refreshing after 45 minutes, so make sure you take a break of 10 to 15 minutes, not more before you get back to studying. Also ensure that these breaks do not take much longer for you may have to prepare your mind once again to get back into the study mode. During the breaks, watching TV or playing video games will actually not help refresh your mind because they keep your mind active. When taking a break, go out inhale some fresh air, get into some rigorous physical activity like playing games which will help you take in enough oxygen which will refresh you mentally.

Avoid time wasters What most people do not know is that, when you have learned something but have forgotten and you are trying to remember it with no success, is high up on the list of time wasters. Look up the answers rather than struggle to remember. Studies have proved that when you try to remember something that you don’t remember, you tend to get into the error mode, so even when you study it right later, you will find yourself making errors because your mind has recorded the error mode where you have spent more time. It is best to look up answers immediately, repeat them a few times over, and if possible, look up the same information on the internet or from a different source.


Improving study habits and making good grades

Attention span

Studies have proved (Bjork, 2001) that you need a number of sessions to process information adequately. One marathon session may never be enough. Psychology has proved that if you need to retain some information, you have to give the subject enough attention. Studying in long cramming sessions, loads a lot of information into your short term memory. What is there in your short term memory may not be retained completely by your mind. You may find yourself forgetting a lot of details. To convert information from short term to long term memory, you need to repeatedly pay attention to the information at hand. A number of study sessions helps transfer information from short term memory to long term memory.


Reduce all distractions, both internal and external to improve your concentration. It is easier to reduce external distraction but it would take a lot of effort from your side to reduce internal distraction. You really need to switch off all those activities that keep taking your mind back to them. For example, dating, watching movies, television, outings with friends, video games, etc. These tend to suck up a lot of your study time. Even though you seem to be with your books you are not actually studying. You also have the mental satisfaction of having studied though your mind has been elsewhere. Most people are often fooled by the fact that they have studied for long periods of time and students often ask each other how many hours they have studied. Not only is it superfluous and self- deceiving, it does not mean a thing. If you have studied with absolute concentration for ten minutes, it could be worth more than three hours of studying by rote without concentration.

Your emotional state decides your level of learning

Try to downplay anxiety, frustration, nervousness or worry at any point of time before you sit down to study. Being worried or anxious or nervous affects your concentration. So just do your bit and relax. Another huge time - waster is worrying and calling up your friends. You not only focus on your negative state of mind, but you are also wasting someone else’s time.

Be open to receiving inputs and feedback

Taking inputs from those who have conquered the task efficiently is a must, feedback from teachers with specific inputs regarding the areas where you need concentrate helps you focus better. Taking inputs from peers whenever you have a problem would also be helpful, two heads are better than one. But make sure these clarification times do not run into your study time or those of the others. A bulletin board will help you here. Make notes of those problem areas where you need clarification and put them on the notice board so that at a later time you could get required clarification from your friends or teachers.

Study smart - effective learning skills or effective study skills

Active listening in class helps you concentrate better while note taking skills enhance your concentration further. When you practice good note taking skills, revisions become easier and more effective.

Learn repeatedly

One sure-fire method for effective learning or studying is to learn repeatedly. Practice makes perfect. Concepts that are frequently repeated are never forgotten

Study concepts that are interrelated

Plan to study chapters that are related to each other at one go. Studying concepts that are related, linking them and understanding them together will help you retain concepts for a longer period of time. Using mnemonic techniques would also help you remember concepts well. Mnemonic techniques are utilising imagery, humour, joke, song for a particular concept to help you remember it.

Teach as you learn

Teaching is twice learning. Whatever you have learnt gets fully engraved in your memory by repetition. When you teach, you repeat and elaborate concepts that you know. You also rehearse what you have learnt. Quite often, while you elaborate concepts, you will realize which part of the concept you have understood and which part you have not. This leads to revision of concepts. When you elaborate on what you have learnt, the concepts become more clear, which in turn ensures that they stay in your memory for a longer period of time Teaching your friends or someone who has not understood the concept will help you understand and retain the concept better. If you do not have anyone to teach, try teaching yourself, doing it exactly the way you would teach someone else.

Visualisation is another technique to retain what you have studied in your memory. Visualising procedures, techniques, processes in your minds eye help them to be retained in your memory over long periods of time.

Use different techniques of studying or learning.

Learning has to be consistent and methodical. Cramming up chapters at the last minute is a very unreliable method of learning. Since most of the information is stored in the short term memory, as newer information is being input, the older information tends to fade out, and thereby, you tend to forget a lot of information even though you have studied.

Employing other effective learning techniques like doing things practically, looking up concepts on the internet, reading encyclopedias, attending lectures on the subject and other tools, as audio’s or audio -visual CDs on the subject will also help to enhance your concentration and memory. Choose those methods that you are best suited to, and you will see a lot of progress.

Take care of yourself to study well

Have nutritious, natural, healthy food Ignoring your health is one major flaws that teenagers or college students have, this could turn out to be a major stumbling block to your success. Falling sick could cut down your study time or even stop you from taking the exam or test for which you are preparing. Take care of yourself, eat good nutritious natural foods, avoid junk food and drink plenty of water. Drinking a lot of water helps the flow of your blood to your brain and keeps you refreshed and attentive throughout your study period. Avoid all sugary foods. There are some foods which are excellent for your brain, you should try to include such brain foods in your normal diet.

Include physical activity in your schedule

Short spurts of activity, exercise and plenty of fresh air will also help your body to co-operate with your mind. Having prepared sufficiently and with so much effort, your immunity may go down so you really need to ensure that you are in the best of health and do not fall sick during the most important period of your life.


Your body needs sufficient amount of rest. Most often students cram at the last minute from both ends. Neither your body nor your mind can take that kind of strain. You need to ensure that you get at least 8 to 9 hours of sleep every day, so that you are fully awake, alert and well able to perform to your potential. Sleep disturbances lead to various other problems like anxiety, depression, lowering of immunity, difficulty in concentrating, emotional upheavals, and stress and strain. None of these help you to perform to the level that you are capable of. It is absolutely necessary to take good care of yourself in the period running up to the exams as well.

If you have adhered to most of these techniques, you are sure to be successful in your efforts and come at top of the class. And here’s wishing you all the very best in all your endeavors.

Please take a moment to record your comments on this article........

keerthana on April 08, 2014:

awesome article helped a lot

nagaraj on January 14, 2014:

How to study and remember objective type questions for exams, please give your suggestions.

Pratap Thapaliya on January 07, 2013:

thanks that was a good article , i always wanted something of suggestions like this

yasmina70 on December 09, 2012:

sofs it's an amazing hub i which it help's me :)

zerin on October 31, 2012:

most of we students know the guidance left here,but it's really comfortable and inspiring when you see all these before your eyes altogether,rather importantly when you search them......


Nanda Shinde on October 05, 2012:

I love studying but I hate studying.

What should I do

Sophie (author) on May 07, 2012:

htodd, thanks for taking the time to read and leave a comment. I appreciate that. Have a wonderful day.

htodd from United States on May 06, 2012:

Interesting ..Thanks a lot

Sophie (author) on March 29, 2012:

Abhiraj, it is so wonderful that you are preparing for IIT JEE, I have an article on that and also many on exam preparation and stress. Click on 'more' under my profile where it says 'latest' 'hot' 'best' and you will find them.. These where written for my son who is now doing Medicine. Best wishes to you in the 12th and for your future. Have a great day!

Abhiraj Saxena on March 29, 2012:

Excellent article. I'm moving to class 12th and preparing for IIT as well. There's quite a lot of stress but the most important thing I learned is that we must give equal attention to physical refreshment as we give to our studies. Good job. Looking forward to more articles from you.

Sophie (author) on March 28, 2012:

Shujaa, I am glad this is of use to you. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. Have a lovely day yourself. God Bless.

shujaa on March 27, 2012:

look at this article for the first time helping me much in organizing my self in learning activities. which make me to success in my learning at the college it is well organized article......Have a great day!

Sophie (author) on March 18, 2012:

Thanks Rene, I take it that this article has helped you. There are other techniques of effective learning that I have written about and linked to in this article. Reading those might help you. Have a lovely day!

rene on March 17, 2012:

for this articles i then interested to know more on how effective learning occur is their some advice you can add

Sophie (author) on February 18, 2012:

Subbu, Don't they go together?.. when you study well you make good grades..The question is was it useful to you? Did it provide you information that you were looking for ..It is titled effective learning. Let me know... Have a great day!

subbu on February 18, 2012:

This article here is specially meant for those who have this question how do I study and study well? Or how do I make good grades?

Sophie (author) on February 06, 2012:

Sonya, this is the greatest reward that I can ever dream of getting when I write an article.. I am so glad that this hub has helped improve your study habits. I appreciate that you took the time to come back and say this. Have a wonderful day. Best wishes for a bright future.

Sonya on February 05, 2012:

This article really helped me improving my study habits....

Thnks a lot..!

Sophie (author) on November 23, 2011:

Thank you wishes to you!!

jyothii on November 23, 2011:


Sophie (author) on October 22, 2011:

True:) you have many things grabbing your attention, but the decision is your. Priorities, have fun but get your priorities straight. This has always worked for my son, and well this was written for especially for him, he follows every word of it. :) Best wishes to you :)

Sophie (author) on October 15, 2011:

Chima I am glad that this article on effective study and learning skills helped you with your research. I appreciate the fact that you took the time to add a comment. Have an awesome day :)

chima on October 14, 2011:

Thanks for sharing. This article has helped to enrich my research work.

Thank you again Sofs!

Sophie (author) on September 21, 2011:

Great Indian citizen, thanks for the visit and the comment. Well learning is for application, learning is for life..that should be the focus and the goal, though short term goals should include good grades too. Learning to acquire knowledge is the way to go :)

a citizen of the great india on September 20, 2011:

absolutely correct . these methods and techniques can develop effective study skills and make a nation progress in the near future this text is in opposition towards the notion that we should just grasp up the subject and get good marks instead we should see what we have learnt how can it be used in our daily lives

Sophie (author) on September 19, 2011:

LOL.. are you asking me to work hard or calling me one :) appreciate the laugh :)

Anant Singh on September 19, 2011:

work hard author

Sophie (author) on September 18, 2011:

htodd, thanks for stopping by to read and comment. Yes, effective studying as the words implies can get your work done faster and better. Appreciate the endorsement :) Have a great day !!

htodd from United States on September 17, 2011:

Effective study is very important ,you can cover 5 hours of work in 2-3 hrs if done properly ..Thanks

Sophie (author) on June 25, 2011:

Rastamermaid, I am honored that this hub written for my son and his friends has been of use to you. Wow, that is admirable that you have returned to academics after 20 years and best wishes to you. Thank you for taking the time to comment and let me know that this has been useful.. somehow it is this kind of feedback that makes every moment you spent here on Hubpages worthwhile :)

Wishes and prayers for you to excel in your endeavors :)

Rastamermaid from Universe on June 25, 2011:

This hub popped up and I need it so much right now.

I have 2 mid-terms this week,and I'm taking this weekend to make sure my knowledge is tight.

Returning to academia after 20+ years has proven to be challenging,I holding a 4.0 after 2 semesters and I want to keep that.

Thanks for sharing!

Sophie (author) on June 03, 2011:

SUSIE405 I used to do that too in my younger days..that is a good technique. Any techniques that you use has long term effects if you revise what you learn once in a while. Linking them to other related concepts will also help you retain information in your long term memory. Whatever is studied need revisions and repetitions to be converted from short term memory to long term memory. Remember the rhymes that you learnt at play school, you remember them even today because of the number of time you have repeated it.

I hope this helps. Best wishes to you.

SUSIE405 from Delray Beach, Florida on June 02, 2011:

I have a very effective outline for studying and it really works. I make index cards and quiz myself and I usually do well on my exams. My problem is that once the test is over, I don't remember half of what I studied.

Sophie (author) on May 30, 2011:

Yes, I do agree with you..some are so distracted that they are not even aware of what is happening to them. I hope this help more students..though it was written for my son and his friends !! Thank you for the read and the comment :) Much appreciated .

puddingicecream from United States on May 25, 2011:

Very good and helpful tips! Especially the one about getting rid of distractions. Some students don't even know that something is distracting them.

Sophie (author) on May 20, 2011:

May be you should work smarter not harder.. and get rid of that constipation too :)

Natural Constipation Relief on May 20, 2011:

I would definitely hope to learn how to study effectively..

Sophie (author) on May 13, 2011:

Welcome to my hubs mmt2966, I am glad that you found the hub useful, there are a few more in this series that I wrote for my son, you can check them out if you want to :) Thank you for the read and the comment, I truly appreciate it.

mmt2966 on May 13, 2011:

Great article...I feel the simple steps you shared are key stepping stones to a solid future.

Sophie (author) on April 11, 2011:

Anthea what a comment it is on our education system. The system is just geared to impart some knowledge, without as you say providing the students with the necessary skills to wade through all the learning. These are such simple but effective steps to make learning effective and I can tell you my son has benefited from it all.

Thank you for voting up and pressing the tabs. God Bless!

Anthea Carson from Colorado Springs on April 11, 2011:

I wish they took more time in highschool to teach students how to study. It is probably the most valuable skill you can have, and yet often kids are just sort of left on their own to sink or swim. And they haven't a clue how to study. I had to teach myself to study, so I came up with my own bizarre system, but it worked. I found that copying things over by hand was the best way to memorize them. And in math, take it "one problem at a time." Thank you for this very useful article, great topic, great job. voted up

Sophie (author) on February 03, 2011:

Yes getting the distractions out is extremely important for effective learning. Taking up difficult chapters first is discussed under time management so that students can give them enough attention. But having a study routine will take care of the confidence building effort as they will be more up to date with their everyday lessons. But there is no rigid method of study applicable to all, these are general guidelines that help improve study habits.

TPSicotte Thank you for taking the time read and comment. I really do appreciate that.

TPSicotte from The Great White North on February 03, 2011:

Good hub. I really agree with the part about taking distractions out of the study environment. Teens often try to study when the tv is on or with a cell phone nearby. Start with the difficult chapters first?? This might work for some but discourage kids that I have work with usually needed to start with something they can manage well first. They needed to build up their confidence before moving on. But I do understand what you are saying in terms of time management.

Sophie (author) on December 31, 2010:

Embee Good to see you back. You always add value to my hubs and your comments are truly welcome. Yes the use of mnemonic techniques encourage all the senses, you are right on the dot the more the techniques you use the more will you retain what you study in your memory. Thanks for highlighting this valuable point. Thank you Embee and God bless!!

embee77 on December 31, 2010:

Great hub, sofs! As someone in the education field, I can say you've covered all the bases. One other thing I like to tell kids is to use as many different senses as possible. Read, speak, write, draw, hilite, move, etc. The more channels you use, the more likely the info will stick. Thanks for your care, research, and clear advice.

Sophie (author) on December 28, 2010:

Thank you Roshan, hope you can put this to good use and here is wishing you the very best and may all your plans materialize!

Do you have anything specific in mind that you would like me to write about, that would be helpful? Would you let me know?

Roshan on December 28, 2010:

Really good article.

Looking forward to more from you!:)

Sophie (author) on December 28, 2010:

Richtwf, yes indeed if students efficiently use their time and learn how to study effectively half the battle is already won. This hub was written on the request of some who see my have been helped by my tips and thought I needed to put it together. I am glad that you as a teacher attest to it. Thank you Ritchie for your kind words and insightful comments.

richtwf on December 28, 2010:

Learning how to study effectively is a very important skill for students of all ages and unless we are skilled in the art of studying/learning then we will always fall short of our true academic potential. Knowing how to study or learn effectively will help do ourselves justice when it comes to the exams. If athletes train inefficiently then they perform poorly, likewise with students study inefficiently then guess what ...

Very useful hub with lots of excellent advice.

Cheers for sharing and God bless!

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