The test packet is immense! As one flips through such a test, they may strain to try to remember how to solve each problem. How did the teacher explain it? Did the teacher explain it? All that time spent cramming last night does not seem to be paying off. Why? Such a scene as this may have occurred to us personally or maybe to someone we know. Even if we are not in school anymore, studying is still something we no doubt need to do from time to time. The question, then, is how can I make my study habits effective? To answer this, let us examine some common pitfalls to avoid.
The first common pitfalls we will discuss are procrastination and cramming. The one usually leads to the other. Staying up for hours the night before then taking a test on a sleep deficiency will not result in the best performance. The reason? Sleep, or lack thereof. Proper rest is key to retaining information. Many scientists believe the reason sleep tends to help memory retention, is because the brain moves the information from short-term memory to long term memory during sleep periods. Rather than stay up all night studying, just study what you can, and get the proper rest. If this is done from the start, the information will be retained much better. So do not procrastinate and think twice before cramming all night.
The next pitfall is studying continuously with no break periods. This can lead to fatigue and also hurts retention. We need to be relaxed. Studying takes much concentration, and therefore actually uses quite a bit of energy. This means it is also imperative to eat. We could liken studying to running a race. If a runner finished a race, then, without a break, ran another race, would there be a noticeable difference in his performance between the two races? Of course! By the second race he would no doubt be tired, hungry, and thirsty. When you sit down to study make sure to take breaks and eat something, this will result in better performance.
The final pitfall we will discuss is the environment. Imagine trying to sit down to study while the TV is blasting, a baby is crying, and the most comfortable chair around is the rock outside the house. Now imagine studying in a quiet area, with plenty of desk space, and a chair that is comfortable enough to warrant sitting in for a couple of hours. Which would you rather study in? Many people try to study in an environment not too different from the first one mentioned, but what does that do to retention? Once again, to retain information we have to be relaxed. Noise and uncomfortable surroundings can disrupt this so that we will not get much, if anything, from our material. Make sure to study in peaceful, comfortable surroundings. The local library can be invaluable for this reason alone.
There are more pitfalls to studying than we could go into here. However, if we get plenty of rest, keep well-fed, and study in a comfortable environment we can take the first steps to better retention, and thus, better study habits. Studying does not go away with a diploma or college degree, so start building up good study habits now. It will serve you well throughout your life.