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How to Study Effectively

Do you have exams coming up or a major test? Are you fully prepared or not even halfway there yet? Since you clicked on this article, the odds are that you’re probably among the latter. You have been trying hard to study your schoolwork but you just can’t seem to get the results you want. I know what you’re going through. It’s frustrating after devoting so much time to your studies and not achieving the grades you believe you deserve after all of that hard work. You may even be wondering if there is something wrong with you. But do not fear. The real issue here is probably not your intellectual ability but your study methods. What you need to know is how to study effectively.

AskGiselle: How to Study Effectively... here are 12 ways!

I am here to help.


I know as students you have limited time, so let’s get straight to the point. Here are 12 tips on how to study effectively to help you get the grades you deserve.


  1. Positive attitude: This is a must. You need to have a positive attitude about your abilities and your success. Tell yourself that you are capable of passing your exams and doing well. You have to be your biggest cheerleader. Negative thoughts breed negative energy, which will ultimately negatively affect your exam performance. So think positively about yourself and your capabilities. Your thoughts alone can direct your path to success.


  1. Avoid distractions: If you want to study effectively, you must avoid distractions as much as possible. You would know what are your biggest distractions; avoid them. Whether it’s your friends, cell phone, TV, electronics, going out, watching movies or shows, and/or gossiping – cut them out completely if you can. You would be surprised how much time you can save and dedicate towards effective studying instead.


  1. Study early in the term: You need to start your studying as early as possible. Do not procrastinate about this. This is often the downfall of many students. Do not be one of them. Start studying early so that you can pace yourself and avoid feeling overwhelmed when you leave all of your studying until the last minute.

AskGiselle: How to Study Effectively... here are 12 ways!

  1. Study smart: If you want to study effectively, you have to study smart. This involves tailoring your study methods to suit each course and knowing how much material to cover. You need to know what each course entails and it would be useful to refer to your course outlines for this purpose. Do not use the same study method for all of your courses. For example, the methods you would use for studying English would be different from those used for Mathematics or Science.


In addition, many tutors/lecturers have their own particular quirks and requirements for doing well in their courses. If your tutors/lecturers are the ones who set your exams, and they are the fussy or nitpicky type, ensure that you study according to what each one of them wants. If Mr. A prefers his students to write in a particular style, do so. If Mrs. B hates fluff and prefers you to get straight to the point in your essays, do so. If Mr. C demands that you show your working for every single calculation, do so. Do not give them any opportunity to deduct marks from you. As annoying as it may be abide by their idiosyncrasies – it is only for a time.


  1. Use a study method that works best for you: You should know yourself better than anyone. Thus, you should know by now which method of study works best for you. Are you a visual person who needs to draw things out to understand the concepts? Do you need to study with music or do you prefer silence? Do you study better in a group or by yourself? Does talking out loud help you remember better? Or do you study best by re-reading the material and writing? Stick to the method that works most effectively for you. Do not compromise this to please anyone else.


  1. Study at your optimum absorption time: Are you an early bird or a night owl? Do you retain information better when you study during the day or at night? For me, I have always been an owl; for as long as I can remember I have always studied best and been most productive at night. Stick to what works best for you. Identify your most productive time of day and use it for your study sessions.

AskGiselle: How to Study Effectively... here are 12 ways!

  1. Set time limits for studying: Sometimes it is hard to stop when you are on a roll but it is important that you set time limits for studying. When you study for several hours at a time you will eventually begin to overwhelm yourself and become frustrated from trying to take in so much information in one long continuous stretch. Your mind will become oversaturated. To study effectively, you should study for no more than one or two hours at a time. Always be conscious of your mental health.


  1. Take breaks: It is essential that you take breaks frequently when studying. Once you set your time limits for studying, stick to them and take a break when you have reached your study limit. Your mind needs time to recover. Also ensure that you get proper rest by sleeping for at least 6 – 8 hours per night. Your body needs good sleep to help you feel refreshed in the morning.

AskGiselle: How to Study Effectively... here are 12 ways!

  1. Get help: If you are struggling to understand a concept or just need assistance with revision, get help from a tutor or classmate. This is not the time to be bashful or self-conscious; there is nothing wrong with asking for help. In fact, the students who score the best grades usually do so with the aid of extra tuition (some of course, also do so with the use of insider information). Many of these ‘top’ students keep this fact a secret, preferring to have you think that their performance was solely due to their intellectual abilities.


  1. Practise past exam papers: This is part of ‘studying smart’. The best way to prepare for exams and study effectively is by reviewing past exam questions and writing out your answers to them. This is particularly effective when there are several years of past exam papers that you can access. When you practise answering the questions, you will get used to what is expected of you in the exam.

AskGiselle: How to Study Effectively... here are 12 ways!

Bonus Tip: Send your practice answers to your tutors and ask them for feedback. The top-achievers do this all the time and you should too. Make good use of your tutors.


  1. Spot topics well: This is related to the previous point. When you review the past exam papers, you should be able to detect a pattern of the topics that are most frequently examined. Choose the topics that come most often and study them thoroughly. Be careful with ‘spotting’ though. Make sure you study enough topics so that you can answer the required number of questions in the event that certain popular questions/topics are not repeated in your upcoming exam.


  1. Take care of your body: If you want to achieve good grades and be at your optimum performance, you need to take good care of your body. This should be obvious but it may not be on the forefront of some minds. Studying is stressful, particularly at the university level. To avoid crashing and burning, as stated before, get proper sleep and take breaks often. No one is a robot. You need to eat well and take multivitamins. Eat fruits and vegetables regularly, and dedicate some time to exercise. Drink lots of water. Keep your body and mind healthy.

AskGiselle: How to Study Effectively... here are 12 ways!

Bonus tip:If you are feeling overwhelmed, please utilize the counseling services that your school/university offers. Speak to someone who can help you better handle your issues. Do not bottle it all in; it’s not healthy. Get the emotional and psychological assistance that you may need. Again, there is no shame in seeking help.


Those were my twelve tips on how to study effectively. I hope you find them useful and that you implement as many of them as possible. If you would like further tips or clarification, feel free to contact me via email at or in the comments below.


Do not give up hope, but keep trying. All the best with your studies!

AskGiselle: How to Study Effectively... here are 12 ways!


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So what did you think of the post? I would love to know!

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  1. Norris Dawkins
    April 26, 2018 / 1:37 pm

    Thank you for the tips Giselle, well received.

    • gisellemills
      April 30, 2018 / 6:04 pm

      You’re welcome!