4 Study Habits That Could be Hurting Your Grade

11-Dec-2012 | 6 min read

Our Blogs > 4 Study Habits That Could be Hurting Your Grade
We found this article over on Her Campus and thought we would share it with you, especially useful for those who are currently enduring finals week!   We all have our own study and work habits that we rely on for every major test, project, or assignment. However, just because we’ve internalized those habits doesn’t necessarily mean they’re as effective as we might like to think. If your GPA, social life, sleep schedule, or health is suffering, your study habits may be the culprit. 1. Cramming for a test We already know that cramming the night before an exam is not the ideal way to go about studying, yet so many of us continue to make a habit of it and are confident that it will pay off. While you might actually end up with a fine grade on an exam that you crammed for, shoving weeks’ worth of information into your brain in such a short span of time is not conducive to actually remembering the material in the future. So instead of disadvantaging yourself by cramming, try this approach: briefly review class concepts and materials every week to ensure that you are understanding and remembering the information. When it comes time for an exam, spread your studying out over several days so that you aren’t scrambling to learn it all in one night. The best process is study, take a break for a day, then study again. That is the only way to study so that you actually retain and learn. 2. Multitasking Our generation has mastered the art of Facebook chatting, tweeting, texting, watching TV, and eating dinner all at the same time, so you may sometimes mistakenly think that you can add homework to the mix. But by dividing your attention amongst so many different tasks, either the quality of your work or your efficiency is bound to suffer. HC contributing writer Katie, a senior at Western Michigan University, says that doing homework while watching TV “seems like a win-win situation in the beginning, but it always makes homework take a really long time.” She now realizes that “it is best to just turn the TV off and do homework… it makes for much less of a distraction.” So instead of spending two hours to write one sentence of your paper because you keep stopping to look at pictures of cute puppies on Pinterest (not that we blame you), turn off the distractions around you and focus solely on your work. Make a deal with yourself that you’ll finish all your work before watching the latest episode of Revenge, so that you’ll be more motivated to get your work done and will have something to look forward to while doing it. If your social media addiction is too strong to fight on your own, there are applications on your computer that you can use to help you stay focused. Harvard senior and HC Her Story Editor Kema recommends using the “focus view” function on word docs (click view, then “focus” or “full screen,” and it will put your document in full screen and hide all toolbars that don’t pertain to editing). “That way you'll be less likely to try and go from window to window on your screen,” she says. “It also helps me to remember concepts a lot better when I recopy some of my notes by hand.” Other applications, such as SelfControl let you block yourself out of certain websites for a specified period of time.   3. Choosing the wrong environment Just as Facebook and TV can be distracting, studying somewhere that is not conducive to focusing on your work can be counterproductive as well. Considering that everyone has different preferences, there is no one “right” place to study—but once you recognize what conditions work best for you, find an ideal place on campus that meets that criteria so that you always have a place to go to be productive. Studies show that repeatedly studying in the same ideal spot can enhance learning; according to the Penn State York Nittany Success Center, “when you study in the same place every time, you become conditioned to study there. Your mind will automatically kick into gear, even when you don't feel like studying.”   4. Sacrificing sleep This bad study habit often goes hand in hand with cramming—and just like cramming, we already know that it’s bad… but we do it anyways. We’ve all heard plenty about the importance of getting enough Zs, yet sleep is often the first thing many of us sacrifice when it comes to keeping up with the college lifestyle. Instead of convincing yourself that a few more hours of studying the night before your test will trump whatever benefits sleep has to offer, take it from an expert: “Don’t sacrifice sleep to cram for a test. Your brain will not function properly when you’re experiencing a lack of sleep, so that is totally counterproductive,” Fleming says. “If you must study on the last day, get an early start and make sure you go to sleep early enough to get plenty of rest.” Not only will all-nighters make you feel sluggish or sick the next day, but they can impair your performance on tests and hurt your grades overall! A study at St. Lawrence University found that students who frequently pulled all-nighters had slightly lower GPAs than those who did not. This is likely because sleep deprivation impairs your cognitive abilities by increasing your reaction time and your likelihood to make mistakes while curtailing your creativity and analytical skills. In the few days leading up to a test, remind yourself that you will perform better if you are well-rested and your brain is not overworked.  Set a goal bedtime for the night before the exam—try to get at least eight hours of sleep. If you find that you always have trouble falling asleep the night before a big test, make sure that you leave yourself enough time to de-stress and fall asleep, and stay away from caffeine late in the day. Still not convinced that sacrificing sleep may be hurting you? Read this HC article on the effects that an all-nighter has on your body and you’ll be sure to hit the hay earlier.   Source - Her Campus  

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