Improving Study Habits

There are many good study tips, but one of the first things you can do to improve study habits is to be clear about your goals. Be specific. What are your school goals for this year? This semester? This study hour? Write them down. Keep an eye on the prize! How will goal setting improve study habits? For one thing it relieves inner struggle. You’ve committed internally, and that clarity can help dissolve tension and confusion.


After setting your goals, another of the good study tips is to set up a checklist that works for you. This does two things. First, if you set up the list yourself, no one is hovering over you to “do your homework”. You’ve taken the initiative and can follow through with much less internal (your mind) and external (parent, tutor, teacher) friction. Second, as you complete your assignments, the list provides “visual” feedback that you are making progress. You see that completion is associated with rewards. Using lists is not just a great study tip- if you use them in other areas of your life, you will feel better about yourself as you learn the skills of accountability and time management.

Setting goals and using lists combine to make one of the best good study tips. No need to sabotage the process from the beginning without a goal or destination! Set a specific length of time you are going to study, or a specific goal for the session, and speak to yourself in terms of what your reward will be at the end of the session. An example would be “after I complete these math problems, I will be free to play soccer for an hour”. Don’t set yourself up for internal tension by saying “I’m stuck here again doing these stupid math problems…”


Do you put your homework off until after dinner, video games, and checking text messages? Ever notice how easy it is for you to get sleepy just when its time to do assignments? If you begin the habit of doing studies early in the day, you’ll find it is much easier to complete them. First, you are likely to have the energy to do the mental heavy lifting, and second, it is more motivating to have a study break just ahead of you rather than two hours ago.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take breaks! Taking time to “chill” after school for a half hour, especially if your day was hectic, can be one of the good study tips too. Just don’t fool yourself about the reality of setting your goals and getting them completed.

You can actually make it easier on yourself by jumping into your most challenging studies first, or at least early in the session. Your mind is fresh and it is more productive to view the hardest subjects more than once. Starting early on tough subjects allows for that. If you have to, break away and come back to the hardest topic, but jump in right away. Notice how you feel after you do that. Better than putting it off? Yep!


Two good study tips are often overlooked or placed as footnotes on the last page of study manuals. Exercise your body and feed your brain! O.K. I’ve said it. Now I hope you’ll do it! The effects of exercise and diet are cumulative and very important. Get some exercise, and make sure you’re not hungry or dehydrated during your study session. Your brain needs a constant stream of nutrients, and doesn’t have a large storage area…so keep those nutrients coming. Your stress levels will go down and your grades will go up!


Once you begin the study period, don’t multitask! Doing two things at once means you will do both of them less effectively. You will also enjoy your free time more if you set a time for it, and fully relax into it. During your study time, keep distractions to a minimum. You can learn more about setting up a time management system by clicking here. The very phrase “time management” may make you a little bit drowsy, but you might like to know that the very best students have a built in knack for keeping a good schedule. This is a great time to model success.