Study Smarter, Not Harder

Student life is hard enough without the frustration of trying to find study methods that actually work. Methods like highlighting words and cramming are favored amongst students, despite the fact that they generally don’t work- and this is likely because we’re expected to study but rarely told how to. 

If you’re confused about how to begin the process of studying, these tips are not only helpful, they are proven to work! 

Pre-Studying Questions

Ask yourself a few questions before you begin; 

  1. How does your brain work? For example, are you a visual learner, an auditory learner, etc.?
  2. What study methods worked best for you in the past? 
  3. What material are you studying (rhetoric, math, history, etc.), and what study method can you use to absorb this material best?

With the answers to your questions in hand, define your learning style and use it to find the studying methodology for you.

The Tricks of the Trade

Find the best place, the best music, and the best food 

It is scientifically proven that place and space have a big impact on how you learn and remember information. Choose a space that is comfortable, yet conducive to work.

Put on music and/or TV that can serve as ‘background’ noise, rather than a distraction, and keep food on hand so your brain doesn’t pull the old “well, I guess I have to go make some food anyways,” trick on you. 


An oldie, but a goodie. This type of studying is used to commit information to memory, whether the information is data or broader concepts. This form of pre-testing is a strategy known as “retrieval practice” in which recalling information aids the process of learning. 

Flashcards are typically “cards” that can be physical or virtual with a term on one side and information on the other. The goal when using flashcards is to link the term and the information by looking only at the term and attempting to remember the information without turning the card over. 


Note-taking can be very useful, particularly when studying long texts that you are being asked to comprehend. You can utilize various note-taking forms such as outlining or listing to make a note of key points you’d like to remember.


Utilize color coordination, formatting, and note-taking methods to create a study sheet that you can continuously reference during your sessions. This method is helpful for visual learners as well as those who have to synthesize and remember a hefty amount of info. 

You can use this method to not only organize your notes but as one big flashcard as well. Take another sheet of paper and use it to obscure the information on your study sheet while trying to recall the facts you’ve written. Move the paper down the sheet, from concept to concept, as you recall and study your notes.

Last but not least, reward yourself!

Do not overwhelm yourself by trying to learn everything at once. Instead, make a ‘study schedule’ and stick to it, taking regular breaks in between. 

Cramming not only does not work for long-term memory, but it can also lead to frustration and anxiety before and during an exam or project. Make sure to treat yourself, and your brain well. 

Don’t let stress invade your study habits. With a little planning, you can crush your next project or exam by knowing what studying methods work best for you and your field. 


Check out this resource for a treasure trove of proven study methods.