Study tips

It’s not easy to be a student, but most people are in this position at sometime in their lives.  They do their best to try and learn new material by using techniques that they have found effective.  Researchers have studied the activity of studying and have found techniques that most students can use to increase their learning ability.  Here they are:


You can use a learning technique called “spaced repetition,” which involves breaking up information into small groups and reviewing these groups consistently over a long period of time.  This works especially well with vocabulary.

You can study for a few minutes right before going to bed because when you sleep, the brain goes over new memories and strengthens them, so there’s a good chance you’ll remember whatever you review right before falling asleep.

You can study the same information in a different place every day, which makes it harder to forget that information. That’s because the place where you study forces the brain to form new associations with the same material so it becomes a strong memory.

You can store information more securely when you write it out by hand than when you type it, so recopy your most important notes onto a new sheet of paper.

You can learn new material as if you’re going to teach it to someone else.  If you can teach it to another person, you really know it well.

You can study out loud by saying what you’re reading or writing.  You not only see the information, but you also hear it, mentally storing it in two ways.

You can form a study group with a few other students and get together every few days to review the material.  There should be a leader in the group who keeps everyone on target with their goals.

You can quiz yourself, which may be one of the best ways to study.  When you do this, try to think like a teacher and ask questions you think they would ask.  If you have a study partner or study group, you can quiz each other.

You can drink coffee or tea to keep you alert, but don’t work for hours at a time even though you think you can.

You should take regular breaks to refresh your mind and improve your ability to focus.  Five minutes every half hour is recommended.

You can add exercise to your routine.  Research has found just half an hour of aerobic exercise can improve your brain’s processing speed and memory.

You can listen to classical music while studying, which has been shown to reduce anxiety and tension, and when these are lowered, you learn more quickly.

You should never study all night, which impairs your cognitive (brain) performance and increases your sensitivity to stress.  Therefore, in the days before a big exam, you should get those seven to nine hours of sleep a night so you don’t undo all the hard work you’ve done.

You can eat omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in certain fish, nuts, and olive oil.  These supplements boost your brain’s potential.  As a matter of fact, taking a combination of omega-3-and omega-6 fatty acids before an exam actually reduces test anxiety.

You can make flash cards, which are an old but effective technique for learning material such as vocabulary.

You should set specific goals and be very clear about what you want to accomplish during your study times.  When you’ve met your goal, you stop studying for the day.

You should think positively about your ability to learn.  Rather than think of how difficult it is to remember everything, think about how much more you know now than you did yesterday.  Confidence will make you a better learner.

You can take common herbs such as ginkgo biloba, ginseng or gotu kola to enhance your mental abilities.

Finally,  you should know that no matter how old you are, everybody has the ability to learn.  Take a few of these suggestions and start applying them to your studies.  Later, when you are used to those, add a few more.  You’ll be surprised at how well they work.

Click on the audio recording below to hear the lesson.


position:  situation
techniques:  ways to do things
effective:  good at getting results
consistently:  repeatedly, such as every two days
strengthens:  makes strong
associations:  connections, relationships
securely:  solidly, strongly
mentally:  in your brain
on target:  continuing to do the job
alert:  awake, thinking well
refresh:  rest, renew
focus:  concentrate, learn at your best
recommended:  advised, suggested
routine:  habits, things you always do
aerobic:  breathing hard
anxiety:  fear, nervousness
tension:  stress, feeling uneasy
impairs:  makes worse
supplements:  vitamins
boost:  increase, make better
potential:  ability
effective:  getting good results
accomplish:  do, achieve
confidence:  belief in yourself and your abilities
herbs:  plants
applying:  doing, trying

Pronunciation Exercise:  Listen and repeat the above vocabulary on the audio file below.