13 Study Techniques that Students Should Use for Better Study

If you’re looking for study techniques or study strategies or a list of study techniques then make sure you read this article till the end.

13 Study techniques that students must use to study smart

Study techniques work great to boost your learning, productivity, and focus ability. There are many study techniques and all techniques teach you how to study smartly.

Many research has shown that students who study with study techniques not only study better but also get better grades as compared to those who don’t use any study techniques. Somewhere, that’s why those students (who don’t use any technique in their studies) get bad grades after studying hard.

(You don’t need to just study hard, studying hard can be only worth it when you have the right direction and techniques to study.)

So, in this article, we have listed 13 Study techniques that can work for your better study. Some of the study techniques you might know before and some of them would be new for you.

The article is going to be quite long, so hold your sit and be with me till the end. We have also created a free pdf for this article that you’ll find while reading.

13 Study Techniques that Actually Work for Better Study

1. Reading Comprehension Technique:

Reading comprehension technique

Reading comprehension techniques are great that help you to read a chapter in the right way and grab most of the information by reading.

SQ3R, PQ4R, PQRST, and THIEVES all are reading comprehension study techniques, however, here we will explain only the SQ3R study technique.

SQ3R is 5 steps technique that involves Survey, Question, Read, Recite, and Review. Let’s discuss its all steps…

sq3r study technique
  • Survey: Instead of just start reading, first focus on Title of the chapter, Introduction and summary sections, Headings and Subheadings, Graphics (like charts, maps, diagrams, and others), bold, Italic, and highlighted sentences.
  • Question: After taking the survey now circulate questions around the chapter. Turn the headings for each section into as many questions as you think will be answered in that section.
  • Read: After circulating the questions start reading the chapter section by section with your questions in mind look for answers for questions that you created in the second step.
  • Recite: After reading one section stop and try to recall the answer that you find while reading that section. If you can’t recall then again go back to that section and find your answer again.
  • Review: Once you’ve finished the chapter, now review the chapter to understand it more deeply. Quiz yourself on the questions you created and re-read any portions if you need to.

PQ3R (Preview, Question, Read, Reflect, Recite, and Review), PQRST (Preview, Question, Read, Self-recite, and Test), THIEVES (Title, Headings, Introduction, Every first sentence in a paragraph, Visuals and vocabulary, end-of-chapter questions, and Summary) present the same method to read a chapter.

However, you don’t need to confuse yourself with all reading strategies study techniques, just go with SQ3R or the strategy you are familiar with.


2. Spaced Practice:

Spaced practice

With learning new information every day it can be difficult to keep remember what you learned in previous classes. So, to keep remember the information for a long time and to revision effectively here is a technique, called Spaced Practice students should use.

Spaced practice is a study technique where students review and revisit the material in spaced intervals over time. When you hear a lecture you can retain up to 80% if you review the material within 24 hrs and you can retain up to 100% by reviewing and revisiting the same material 5 times in the schedule below…

  • Day 1: Learn the material in class
  • Day 2: Revisit and review
  • Day 3: Revisit and review
  • After one week: Revisit and review
  • After two weeks: Revisit and review

The spaced practice technique works on the concept of the Forgetting Curve where you identify how much knowledge is lost over time when your brains don’t put effort to remember it.

Instead of cramming before the exams, use spaced practice technique that will help you to store the information in the long-term memory.


3. Leitner System:

Leitner system

The Leitner system is a memorization study technique that works on using flashcards and spaced repetition techniques. If you don’t know about flashcards then let me first tell you what it is…

Flashcards are small cards (physical or electronics) with two faces where on one face you write the question and on another face, you write the answer for it. Now let’s talk about how the Leitner system works…

In the Leitner system, you made 3 boxes, named Box-1, Box-2, and Box-3. You can color the box for better identification. Whereas, Box-1 for reviewing every day, Box-2 review every other day, and Box-3 for reviewing in a week.

The second step is to create flashcards around the questions or concepts that you often forget or find hard to remember. After creating a bunch of flashcards, put all the flashcards in Box-1.

(Watch this video for a better understanding of flashcard systems.)

Every flashcard will start in Box-1. As you answer a flashcard correctly, move the card into Box 2. If you incorrectly answer a flashcard, place the card back in Box-1. Follow this method for each flashcard in Box 1. At the end of this round, you will notice that some concepts remain in Box-1 which means that these concepts are more difficult for you and require frequent studying.

You can use both types of flashcards- physical or electronic but try to prefer physical more.


4. Retrieval Practice:

Retrieval practice

Retrieval practice is a great strategy that forces your mind to recall the information. The research found that recalling an answer to a question improves learning more than looking for the answer in your textbook.

Bringing information to mind by hard recalling boosts your learning. It examines exactly what you know and how much information you can recall.

Here is why retrieval practice works…

The best methods to use retrieval practice are Quizzes, Clickers, Flashcards, Practice Tests, and others. You can also use retrieval practice after the class by writing down all the information that you learn in your previous class, this will pass the information into your long-term memory and you won’t forget easily what you learned in the class.


5. Zeigarnik effect:

Zeigarnik effect

The Zeigarnik effects allow students to take breaks while studying or we can say it allows students to take study breaks in the right way.

The Zeigarnik effect was named after its founder, Russian psychiatrist and psychologist Bluma Wulfovna Zeigarnik. In one of her research, she found that when we leave the task in the middle then we remember all about the task for a long time but when we leave the task after completing we can't remember much.

Now, let’s talk about how the Zeigarnik effect is useful for students

The Zeigarnik effect suggests that students who stop their studies in the middle, during which they do unrelated activities (using phone or enjoying snacks), will remember material better than students who complete study sessions without taking any break.

It is because, when you stop your studies in the middle, your mind gets stick to it and you keep thinking about your studies, even during breaks sometimes you find a new way to solve your problems.

So, improve your productivity, learning, and memory with the Zeigarnik effect.

6. Pomodoro Technique:

Pomodoro Technique

Pomodoro is a great time management technique developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. This study technique for time management allows students to study in small chunks while taking short breaks. It uses a timer to break your work or study into intervals traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks (5 minutes).

Each 25 minutes study session is called a Pomodoro (an Italian word for Tomato). When you complete four Pomodoros while taking breaks then the Pomodoro technique allows you to take a long break (20 minutes). This technique works great if you have to study for long hours effectively.

Make sure while following your Pomodoros must avoid your phone and other works while studying. After 25 minutes of studying effectively, you can take a look at your phone for 5 minutes.

If you have read the previous technique (i.e. The Zeigarnik effect) then you have understood how you can utilize your study breaks.


7. The Learning Pyramid:

the learning pyramid

This is not a study technique but a great theory that every student and learner should know.

The Learning Pyramid is sometimes also referred to as the ‘cone of learning’ developed by the National Training Laboratory which tells you exactly how much you retain information by getting through different mediums. For instance, if a teacher uses only a lecture method of instruction, their students will only retain 5%-10% of the information while the teacher retains 90%.

This theory suggests that most students only remember about 10% of what they read from textbooks, but retain nearly 90% of what they learn through teaching others.

Take a look at the below image of the learning pyramid theory and its retention rate.

learning pyramid
Source: educationcorner.com

Now you better know how you can retain more information. So, what you learn make sure you do practice by writing and teach someone or yourself.


8. Feynman Technique:

Feynman technique

The Feynman Technique was developed by theoretical physicist Richard P. Feynman, who has also won the Nobel Prize. He is also known for his learning process that makes the process extremely simple and effective.

The Feynman technique not only helps you to learn a concept very well but also helps you to retain it for longer times. According to the Feynman Technique, explain what you’re trying to learn in simple terms, and notice the gaps in your explanation.

It is a four steps process:

  1. Pick a topic and understand it properly
  2. Explain the topic to someone in an easy way (from basic) so that the other person can easily understand what you want to teach
  3. Identify your knowledge gap where you can’t explain clearly
  4. Organize+ Simplify the concept (if you can’t return to the literature to understand better)

Don’t you think it’s an interesting way to learn and understand a concept quickly?


9. Pre-testing before learning the new information:

pretest before study

One of the research of The University of Chicago Learning Lab found that even failing a test or taking a test before learning new information, can lead to stronger memory for that information than spending the same amount of time studying.

According to this technique, when students take a test before studying a new topic (doesn’t matter what they score) not only can understand better after studying but also they don’t forget easily what they studied. Because of pre-testing before the study, students can able to connects the information while studying after.

So, before studying any new concept take a pre-test and then study next. And, don’t feel bad if your pre-test gets poor, focus on types of questions and keep remember them so that you can easily relate when you study next.


10. Mind-Mapping:

mind mapping

Visual learning is one best learning mediums nowadays. Many studies and research has shown that with visual learning not only students can easily understand what they study but also they can retain it for a longer time. And, one of the best visual learning resources is Mind-map.

Mind maps use words and images to create strong associations that help you remember what you’re studying.

How mind-maps can help you?

There are many benefits of mind-mapping. Some of the benefits and reasons of using mind-map, I’m listing here…

  • It helps you to improve your memory with visual cues, words, and images
  • It helps you to make and Identify relationships between different topic
  • It makes your study more interesting and develops your subject understanding
  • Helps you to explore subjects broadly and in-depth
  • It helps you to organize your thoughts to plan and structure assignments

If you want to make a mind map around any subject or topic then you can easily get it from Google (pre-made) but I’d suggest you create mind-maps by yourself that will also improve your creativity. You can create mind-maps in both versions – Online (with tools or applications) and in your notebook.


11. Color-coding your notes:

color coding notes

Do you also use different colors while writing notes?

According to NCBI, color plays an integral role in our visual experiences. Colour helps us in memorizing certain information by increasing our attentional level. It’s able to relay information and can be very effective in learning and memory performance. That's why your professors/lecturer suggests you to different colors while note-taking.

Now using colors in your notes doesn’t mean you should use any color and many colors in your notes. You don’t need to design your notes, you have to use colors and highlighter in such a way so that you can identify easily what this color indicates in your notes.

Let me guide you…

  • Use warm types of colors such as yellow, red, and orange have been found to have a greater effect on attention
  • Use Red colors for key points
  • Use Yellow color or highlighter to highlight something important sentence

Remember, you should use a color for a specific purpose not only to make your notes beautiful.


12. Study with music:

study with music

Study with music, what do you think is it good or bad?

Well, studying with listening to music sounds interesting but what if I tell you there are many benefits of background music while studying?

(Background music refers to any music that is played while the listener’s primary attention is focused on another task or activity.)

Many research and studies have shown that background music tends to improve performance over no music and white noise, but not always in the same manner and it doesn’t affect everyone in the same way. However, it’s certainly true that some types of music can boost concentration and memory as well as increase alertness.

Now it doesn’t mean you put on a playlist of your favorite song and it will help you knock out a mathematical problem set? You should listen to music that should be different from your genre and have a repetitive pulse. Choose classic music, instrumental music, or any music that has no lyrics and you won’t have a strong feeling or any emotions with that music.


13. Exercise before the study:

exercise before study

If you like to do workouts then this study technique you must like. Because this technique allows you to do exercise before the study. Research shows many benefits when students do exercise before the study.

Oregon Health & Science University have discovered a single session of exercise can enhance the expression of a gene that promotes synaptic growth in the hippocampus. And, when you do physical exercise, it releases proteins in the brain that can actually help improve your memory and increase your cognitive performance. 

[Hippocampus is a complex brain structure embedded deep into the temporal lobe. It has a major role in learning and memory.]

Here are some major benefits of exercise before the study:

  • Improve your memory
  • Give you a better concentration while studying
  • Improve your mood and motivation for study
  • Increase energy levels in your body

You don’t need to go for GYM before the study, just do 20 minutes of physical exercise at your home every day before study and then see the result.


14. Surroundings for study: (Bonus)

study environment

The place or the surroundings play a vital role in your effective studying and learning. Just like the other study techniques a good study environment can make your mood for study and give you a better focus. Research confirms that many factors can affect your learning ability, including seating, light, background noise, and more.

Your learning environments and surroundings not only should be distraction-free but also supports you and motivates you while studying. No matter where you want to study, be it your study room, coffee shop, park, or library, but make sure you’re comfortable there and can focus well.

If you like to study with friends or others then arrange a group study someday or join in a library.


Now It’s Your Turn:

So in this article, we have introduced you to the 13 study techniques that you can use in your study and study smart. All study techniques tell you the right and best ways to study.

I hope you enjoyed this list of best study techniques or strategies that actually work.

Now, I’d like to hear from you:

Which study techniques have you been already using? And, are you going to try all of these study techniques in your study?

Let me know in the comment…

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