Science-Based Study Tips for Students

We’re all familiar with this sight: the bedraggled student who barely made it into class and might very well be wearing what they wore to bed the night before, if they even slept at all, with a portable coffee mug the size of their face. Let’s admit it, a lot of us have probably even been that student at one point in our educations.

Unfortunately, students today, for the most part, just don’t know how to study. Instead of building and practicing smart study habits over time, they try to absorb as much information as possible at the last moment possible.

To help remedy this, we’ve rounded up a few science-backed study tips to help your students help themselves.

1. Test Yourself Before the Test

Cramming is a go-to study method, with a whopping 99% of students having crammed for at least one test in their college careers. However, evidence suggests that cramming might not be helping you score the highest scores when it comes to test time as much as you think. Instead, try testing yourself once or twice before the actual test. In the same study, students who were pre-tested two days and one week before the actual test performed better than students who crammed up until test time.

2. Practice the Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique is a productivity method developed by Peter Cirillo in the 1980s. Traditionally, it entails using a timer to segment work into intervals of productivity and intervals of break time. The technique was named after the traditional tomato shaped kitchen timers, and a Pomodoro is typically structured into 25 minutes of focus and 5 minutes of break.

When studying, try breaking your effort into 25 minutes of dedicated focus on your study materials with a 5 minute break as a reward. Use that 5 minutes to do whatever you want, but make sure to come back for your next Pomodoro without giving yourself “just a few more minutes.”

3. Study While Sleepy

School can be exhausting, but that might actually be beneficial for your study habits. It turns out that if you study right before sleeping, your memory locks in more new information than if you study hours before hitting the hay. This is because your brain solidifies information while you sleep, so the fresher the material you’re studying is in your mind before bed, the more you’ll remember the next day.

Students using CourseKey for questions and assessments in classes have it a little easier, though. By going into your student gradebook view, you can click into any assessment you’ve taken to review what you got right or wrong. This is a great way to build your own study guides based on how you’ve done so far.