You should be studying

Click on Image for original source. Blog of Patricia DeArmas

The moment you saw the title, you rolled your eyes in exasperation. Let’s face it: no one likes to study. Most of the time, it seems that you can’t remember half of the things you’ve been staring at for hours on end. Many times in my academic life, I also have found myself staring blankly at a textbook or a notebook or a flashcard, and I could not tell you what was on the page if I looked away.

Many late nights and an unreasonable amount of stress later, I (finally) found a few helpful ‘what-to-do’s/what-NOT-to-do’s’ that have helped me study successfully.

NOTE: This is an incomplete list of suggestions. Certain tips/tricks may not be suitable for certain studiers, and some suggestions may be targeted towards OU Students. All of the following are tips that have personally helped my studying.


My preferred Study Area Bizzell Library Basement

Photo by me of my preferred Study Area
Bizzell Library Basement

  1. Find a Good Study Spot:
    1. For some reason, actually getting up and going somewhere to study seems help generate better studying. For me, it helps put me into the mindset of studying. Designating a spot and maintaining that spot as a study area seems to condition your brain to focus better.
      1. Recommended place to study: the basement of the Bizzell Library (for OU students), or any library in your area.
  2. Listen to a Study Playlist
    1. As I write this post, I am listening to a Study Playlist. I simply get distracted when I’m sitting complete silence, especially when that silence is momentarily broken. My favorite playlist is the Study Music Project, which has hours of tailored study music free on YouTube. All of the tracks are completely instrumental since music with words tend to disrupt focus.
  3. Take Extra Notes
    1. If a professor has posted his/her lecture slides online and/or required textbook readings, as many of mine have, taking notes when reviewing these resources can greatly increase your chances of success on exams. Just like with normal lecture notes, writing down important information in your own words helps your mind retain the information. Plus, now you have more study materials! Bonus!


  1. Studying What You Know
    1. While it seems like a no-brainer, I have wasted precious study time often on looking at course material that I already understood/memorized. Especially in classes that require an enormous amount of vocabulary memorization, this bad habit can be detrimental to your grade. Putting aside what you know early on and dedicating your study time on what you don’t will bring more fruitful studying with considerably less time.
  2. Night-Before Cram Sessions
    1. Whether I completely forgot about the test, or I was stressing out due to the difficult course material, late night cram sessions before the test did little, if anything, in helping me through an exam. At best, cram sessions sleep deprived me and increased my stress level, whereas if I had studied for an hour every day the week prior, I would have a better understanding and retention of the material and more sleep.
  3. CellPhones, the Enemy of Studying
    1. This rule applies to everyone who owns a cellphone. Now, I love my cell, like any other college student, but if anything productive needs to happen, it has to be off. If I do not at least silence my phone, vibrate included, every single buzz/notification will pull me away from crucial studying (as shown in the video below). If you use your phone for study music, like me, put it on Airplane Mode or, for iPhone users, Do Not Disturb, which will prevent notifications from showing on the lock screen. (Also good for when going to sleep)

As stated before, this is an incomplete list of suggestions. Some of these may not work for you, and others may need to be tailored to your specific needs. These tips are simply ones that have helped manage my grades. I hope that this post has helped you in some way.

To help make a more comprehensive list of tips, leave some of your best study tips below in the comments! Or if you have any crazy study/cram stories, I’d love to hear about them!