Studying: it can strike fear into the heart of many a college student, especially when it's left to the last minute. But, studying doesn't always mean that you lock yourself in a room for 8 hours, desperately cramming for that test in the morning. In fact, learning how to study effectively is a process that can help you turn your study habits from a late-night cram session into a smooth day-to-day routine that leaves you refreshed, confident and well prepared.

There's been a huge amount of research over the years on how to study, from how to create the best possible environment for staying focused to memorizing everything you're learning so that it stays fresh in your mind come exam day. We consulted with a few of our in-house staff, and did some of our own research, to find out how to really ace those study sessions.

Take Better Notes

You may think that studying begins once you pull out those lecture notes, but in reality, how you take notes in class can have a pretty big impact on how well you study. While a lot of students swear by outlines, there's a better system for digesting and remembering complex concepts and ideas, and it's called the Cornell Method.

The Cornell Method calls for dividing your note paper into three sections: a large right column for basic note taking; a small column on the left hand side for cues and questions; and a bottom section for a summary. During classes, use the right hand section to jot down the main themes and sub-points of the lecture using shortened notes and abbreviations. After the class, use the left hand side of the page to create questions and cues that relate to the main themes of your notes on the right. Once you've completed that, read over your notes again and synthesise them into a summary at the bottom of the page. This process helps you commit these notes and ideas to long-term memory. Just remember - if you can't finish the rest of your note taking process, right after class, do it within 24 hours of taking them to help keep the information fresh and get the most out of your note taking.

Choose a Quiet, Distraction-Free Place

Probably the most passed around piece of study advice is to choose the right location - one that's free of lots of noise, commotion, and distractions. Well, there's a reason that it's such a common piece of advice: it's true. Finding a good study location can make or break your ability to focus and memorise a lot of information at once. The best areas for studying lack easy distractions, such as friends, computers, TVs, and even appliances (for those of us who'd rather do a load of laundry than study for that chem exam).

Libraries are a common choice, as there's few things around that can tempt people away from their books. Conference rooms or study rooms that have a simple desk or table and chair setup are also perfect. The less tech devices in the room, the better. Also, make sure that any devices you have on you are turned off or at least turn the ringer off. Dings and beeps from incoming messages can be more distracting than a TV buzzing in the background.

Incorporate Studying Into Your Daily Routine

One of the most destructive ways of studying is to wait until the last minute. Even though last-minute study sessions are a time honoured tradition in college, it's important to work daily study sessions into each day - especially after each class. This makes studying part of a daily routine, and it also breaks down the total study workload into smaller, more achievable sections.

To get into a good routine, take a look at your schedule and figure out a time and place every day for you to spend an hour or two studying. If there's a class that requires a little more work, try and fit in a half hour study session immediately afterwards to help you retain that information more easily. Also, in order to build a good routine, it's important to find consistency in your study routine. Study in the same location each day or at least each week.

Reward Yourself for Staying on Track

Rewarding yourself is a good way to keep yourself on track with a new study routine. In fact, using a rewards system is a good way to reinforce good behavior and it works with all types of things, including studying. It's important to take occasional breaks to give yourself some time off. Use things like watching a movie on Netflix or a quick walk to the local shop as a treat to reward yourself for focusing on studying for an hour.

Learning how to study is a necessity for managing your university studies, and it can help reduce a lot of last-minute study stress over time. Do you have any tips that help you study? Share them with us in the comments.

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