Study Tips to Help You Ace Your Semester

I’m a firm believer in studying before you have to. If the only time you crack open a book is finals week, then your grades are likely to reflect that. Just like anything else, in order to get good grades you have to practice. You wouldn’t expect to impress Gordon Ramsay if you’ve never even stepped foot in a kitchen before, so why do you expect to get good grades if you don’t go to classes?

Below are some killer study tips to carry you through the whole semester, not just to help you coast through the last week.

study tips to help you ace your semester


ONE – go to classes

As silly (and obvious) as this sounds, going to classes is the best way to get good grades. I feel like I shouldn’t even include this as a study tip, but I am. While I completely understand not going to class sometimes (everyone needs a mental health break), try not to skip just because it’s your 8 A.M. class and you don’t want to wake up or because you’d rather go for coffee with friends. Try to make it a priority to go to 95% of your classes and pay attention to what’s going on. It doesn’t count if you show up but spend the whole time on Instagram.

TWO – plan ahead

This can mean a few things. First off, it means you should do the reading before class. Whatever chapters you’re assigned, try to at least skim all of it before class starts. This allows you to at least have an idea of what the lecture might look like and familiarizes yourself with the terms that will be used.

Second of all, it means try to prepare study materials as you learn them. Part of my study method is rewriting my scribbles notes into something a studyblr would want to reblog (or at least trying to). I find this method pretty good for me if I’m trying to take notes from a text book. Take these notes right away. The longer you wait, the more you have to do. Even waiting a week to finish rewriting (or writing) notes can mean instead of having to do ten pages, you have to do 50.

Planning ahead and getting things done before the day they’re due has the added benefit of giving you time to ask questions on anything that confuses you.

THREE – study smarter, not longer

My biggest study tip is to cut out any distractions. As someone with no self-control, I’d check text messages or Facebook all the time when studying for no reason other than I was bored. I would always get advice like “just turn off your internet!” or  “put your phone on airplane mode!” but I often need the internet for my assignments or to listen to music. SelfControl is a great app to help you with that. Basically, once you put in a list of banned websites, you set the time frame that the app should ban you from accessing them. It’s super simple and even if you finish studying before the clock runs out, it’s a good way to kick the habit of checking social media just for the hell of it.

Another way to cut out distractions, is to give your phone to your friend. If you’re studying with other people, give your phone to someone you trust so they can keep it away from you. Make sure that until you’re finished, they don’t let you look at your phone.

FOUR – take breaks

I know when I’m studying, the longer I have to just sit there and stare at my notes, the more antsy I feel. I’m less likely to do good work because I just want to be doing anything but the task at hand. After experimenting with what works best for me, I’ve realized I have to build myself up to major studying. I start with ten minutes of studying then a two minute break, fifteen minutes of studying then a five minute break. I then increase the amount of time I spend studying, but keep the five minute breaks. Depending on what I’m working on, I try to max out study time at sixty minutes. Any longer than that without a break and I stop being productive.

These breaks shouldn’t be social media breaks or texting breaks. These breaks should be for things like:

  • taking a walk (or any light physical activity)
  • having a dance party
  • stretching/yoga
  • clean up your study space
  • chatting with a friend
FIVE – study groups

People have different opinions about whether this is actually helpful. For me, I think it is. While I don’t rely on study groups as my only method of getting work done, I think they have their place. If you can find people who take studying as seriously as you do, sitting in the library with other people can be a good way to keep you from going insane. I formed a study group with some friends and we’d meet up once a week for two hours to go over what we’d covered that week. Most of my classes are in philosophy so getting to discuss and debate different ideas is a great way for me to learn information.

SIX – leave your room

It’s super tempting to stay in your dorm room sometimes (especially if you city is prone to snow storms or heavy rain like mine) but I am a firm believer that you should keep your room for sleeping or relaxing. If you do make your room a place to studying, where do you find a place to relax? For me, I like finding random spots on campus or around the city to study, and spend a lot of  time in the library. I rarely, if ever, do school work in my room. Why? Because once my room feels like a study space, it stops feeling like a space I can go to relax and escape the stress of school work. Everyone needs a place that’s free of the negative energy that often surrounds study spaces. 

SEVEN – have a study playlist

For whatever reason, I love listening to Adele when I’m studying. Her songs are soothing enough to be background music, but also upbeat enough to keep me from falling asleep. When I’m not feeling like Adele, I like using 8tracks radio for my study playlists. I really like their collections and have even created a collection of playlists I find useful for studying. It’s one of my favourite ways of listening to music these days.

EIGHT – teach someone else

If you understand the material well enough to teach it to someone else, then you understand the material pretty well. Try to teach friends or family after you’ve studied a little bit. Getting their feedback on the information can be super helpful! Maybe they have questions you hadn’t thought about, or if they’re studying the same thing they know something you forgot. If you can’t find anyone to teach, try to teach your pillows or pets (I know it sounds silly, but it’s something I do a lot and find it very useful).


Any study tips that I missed? Leave them in the comments below!

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  1. I love this! My favorite study tip is one that you touched on: teaching someone else. My roommate and I were once in the same difficult class, so on the walk home from class everyday, we’d take turns explaining to the other what we had learned. We did the same thing–though more in depth–before tests. It worked really well for us. Having to explain something really shows you where your holes in your knowledge are!

    Thanks for sharing your great tips!

    Kym |

    1. I’m so glad you like the post, Kym! That’s actually a really smart idea. My roommate and I will be in one of the same classes this coming year, so maybe we should start doing that ourselves!

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