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Study Hacks & Tips For Exams That Work

Use these hacks and tips to make learning more enjoyable and productive.

Studying is one of those things that a lot of students loathe. It’s tedious, overwhelming, and it takes up a lot of time. Thankfully, with the kind of advancement in technology that we enjoy these days, studying can be fun, quick, and easy.

The thing about studying is that there’s no one standard study method that works for everyone. Aside from putting in the hard work towards understanding your lessons, you have to exert effort into finding what study method works for you, too.

Yes, tons of apps, websites, and tools online can help make the whole process easier, but the internet is such a big place. Where do you start looking, and how do you know which ones are worth trying and which could potentially harm your device or compromise your online safety?

Thankfully, students will often share what works for them with others. A quick web search for study hacks and tips will show you an overwhelming number of tips and tricks to make studying easier and more enjoyable, but we rounded up this list of the best ones, so you don’t have to.

From science-backed study tips that hack the brain into being more productive to tricks that other students from all over the world swear by, here are some study hacks and tips that are guaranteed to make studying a breeze.

Tested & Proven Study Hacks for Your Brain

study hacks for teens

Your brain is a powerful thing. Use it well, and you can achieve just about anything you put your mind to.

Did you know that you can even condition your brain into remembering certain information by triggering it?

Scientists are continuously studying the human brain — testing it, seeing how it responds and what it responds to, and figuring out what stimulates which function. A lot of these studies and researches can be applied to studying.

Check out these hacks that will make your brain absorb and remember information faster and better.

Use Scents To Remember What You Learned

You’ve probably already heard or read about this before: scents can trigger memory and help you remember information better when studying. However, did you know that there’s a right way to do this?

According to studies, the best way to trigger this is to expose yourself to a specific scent while studying and then have the same scent going as you sleep.

Write/Rewrite Your Notes

If you’re a visual learner, creating visual cues for your brain to remember things easily is a great way to study better.

Sometimes, when taking notes in class, you’re only copying but not learning and understanding. Try to rewrite your notes while studying and format them in a way that makes sense to you.

You could even do a mind map. Doing this will help you understand and remember your lessons better as you’ll be able to take the information in at your own pace.

If you’re doing online classes, it helps to record the lectures and then write them down as you re-listen to them.

Forget About Multitasking

Multitasking is good. It’s an efficient way to get things done. When it comes to studying, though, researchers say it’s best to focus on one thing at a time for optimal learning and retention.

Make Your Own Mnemonics

Mnemonics are a classic study hack. Remember MVEMJSUNP or “My Very Earnest Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas” to help you remember the names of the planets back in elementary school? The fact that most people still remember this mnemonic well into their adult years proves how effective this study hack can be.

Read Your Notes Out Loud

Studying in silence is great, but speaking or reading out loud is way better. In a study conducted by researchers from the University of Waterloo in Canada, participants who read aloud were shown to better remember what they read than those who read silently. If you’re studying with a group, you could take turns teaching each other what you’ve just learned.

Use Flashcards

Remember how flashcards helped you ace your math and reading skills in elementary school? Well, those are not the only things flashcards are good for. Flashcards can be used for any subject. Using flashcards is a great way to test yourself if you’re studying alone.

They’re convenient and, best of all, they’re free. You can even make your own flashcards online using apps like Quizlet. Here’s how you can get the most out of your flashcards.

Chew Gum

While research has yet to show that chewing gum before an exam works in helping you remember information and, thus, boosting your scores, plenty of students swear by this study hack.

For best results, it is said that you should chew gum 5 minutes before an exam, but not during the exam itself.

Don’t Study In The Dark

Studying with dim lights or just your lamp on may seem relaxing and aesthetically pleasing, but it might not give you the best results. One of the secrets to remember more and understanding more is to make sure your brain is “awake.”

To do this, it’s best to have as much light in the room as possible. Open the windows to let in some sunlight. If you’re studying at night, light up the whole room, not just your desk.

Give The Pomodoro Technique A Try

The Pomodoro Technique is a method that aims to eliminate distractions and avoid procrastination. This method can be widely used for any task, especially for studying. To do this, you’ll need to set a timer for 25 minutes, work on a single task, and then take a 5-minute break when the timer goes off. For every four 25-minute study sessions, take a longer (20 to 30 minutes) break. Repeat as needed.

The original Pomodoro technique calls for 25 minutes of work time followed by a 5-minute break, but you can always customize this and make your work and break time as long/short as you want.

Set Milestones And Reward Yourself When You Reach Them

Your brain works hard when you study and learn new things. Make sure you reward that effort to avoid overworking your brain and keep it at its optimal learning state.

Instead of trying to learn everything in one sitting, create milestones for yourself. Once you reach those milestones, reward yourself with a treat, some fresh air, or doing something fun in between.

Print Visual Aids And Stick Them Everywhere

Create visual aids for topics that you need to master or for details you need to memorize. Stick these visual aids everywhere — your desk, your headboard, the mirror, that wall facing the treadmill. Place them strategically so that instead of looking at a blank space, you can see your visual aids and review them.

Study Hacks For The Perfect Learning Environment At Home

study hacks and tips

Classrooms are designed for optimal learning. For some students, studying in a classroom is more effective than learning at home. That doesn’t mean, though, that you can’t hack your way to the perfect learning environment right in the comfort of your own home.

Thankfully, curating the perfect study environment is easy. A quiet room with lots of light coming in is the ideal setup, but there are workarounds, tricks, and hacks that you can use, too, to help you make do with the space that you already have and still achieve excellent results.

Use Colors To Boost Your Brain’s Learning Power

Colors can influence many things, including your mood and your brain’s ability to take in new information and remember it. Surrounding yourself with the right colors while studying can help you focus better, remember more, and understand lessons more easily.

Find Background Music That Works For You

For some people, having music playing in the background while studying helps them focus on learning more. However, everyone’s jam is different, so you must find a track that works for you. Here are some of the most popular background music choices among students for studying:

  • Lo-fi beats – perfect for achieving a jazzy, chill vibe while studying. Lo-Fi beats are the “less than perfect” version of your favorite songs, giving the atmosphere a nice hint of nostalgia. Check out this playlist for awesome lo-fi beats.

  • Classical music – classical music has long been known to be good for the brain. Even expecting parents are encouraged to let their babies listen to Mozart, Chopin, Beethoven, and the likes while in the womb. For students, classical music can help boost focus. Additionally, it can make it easier for your brain to absorb, comprehend, and interpret new information as well.
  • Upbeat music – some people prefer to study while listening to calm and relaxing music. Others find themselves more productive and learning more efficiently with something upbeat playing in the background. In fact, there’s a new trend going around these days showing how teens can get last-minute homework done more quickly while listening to Mario Kart music. Here’s a two-hour-long track on Youtube in case you want to give it a go.

  • White Noise – are you the type who gets easily distracted by the sounds around you? If so, you might want to consider playing some white noise while you study. White noise can be anything, from shushing sounds to the sound of heavy rain or even ocean waves crashing on the shore.

Invest In Good-Looking School Supplies

Do you quickly lose motivation when you’re studying? Invest in good-looking school supplies to feel more motivated when studying. Being surrounded by pretty things that you love gives you a boost of serotonin.

It’s a great way to counter the feeling of being unmotivated, and it gives you something to look forward to every time you study.

Have A Dedicated Space For Studying

Do as much of your studying in the same spot at home, if possible. If you have a desk, study there instead of studying on your bed. Having a dedicated area for studying will train your brain to go into “study mode” when you’re there.

Get A Change Of Scenery

Is your dedicated study space no longer triggering your brain to go into study mode? A change of scenery might just be what you need.

Try to study in other places around the house. If your study setup is quite portable, you could try going outdoors, too. The library, the park, and your favorite cafe are all excellent spots to get your brain back into study mode.

Study Hacks & Tips For The Plugged In Student

study hacks for exams

Using your gadgets while you study can lead to better grades. You just have to make sure you’re on the right websites and using the right apps. The internet is full of helpful apps and websites to help you study better.

If you’re a student on a tight budget, you might even find free resources for textbooks and other materials online. Here are some apps and websites to help you study better.

Find A Study Buddy Or An Accountability Partner

If you don’t like studying alone, but you have no one else at home to study with, you should look into finding a study buddy online. Feeling shy? No worries, there are tons of websites, too, that work as a virtual co-working study room. You can either connect with strangers or join a study group.

Now, you may be wondering, “why would I look for strangers online to become my study buddy instead of asking my friends?” Well, it’s hard to resist temptation. It’s easy for a study session to turn into a hangout session with your friends on your screen. Your friends’ priorities might also be different from yours, so a virtual study session might not be something they would be up for.

Another great thing about finding a study buddy online is that you could also become each other’s, accountability partner. Friends tend to let things slide. They’d rather let you get away with something than have an argument about it. A stranger, on the other hand, won’t care if you get annoyed at them. They’re going to push you the same way they want you to push them.

  • MoocLab – MoocLab is an online learning community that provides online learning forums for free. It’s a great place to find a study buddy or an accountability partner as most people will have the same goal as you, which is to study better and be more productive.
  • Study Stream – a virtual library where you can enter a “focus room” and start studying with other people from around the globe. You are encouraged to study silently, turning your mic off as you enter the focus room. Study Stream also hosts open mic sessions, guided mindfulness sessions, social events, and more. Study Stream is free, but you can also sign up for a premium membership to enjoy certain perks.
  • Study Gang – Study Gang is another virtual focus room where you can study with other people from around the globe for free. Unlike Study Stream, you are encouraged to use your mic at Study Gang to declare your intentions to the group. This will help them hold you accountable, so you’re more motivated to achieve your goals. You will also be required to turn your camera on while in the focus room.

Get Rid Of Distractions

If you’re the type to get easily distracted when you’re on your gadgets or your computer, and not using it is not an option, these apps and websites might just be what you need.

  • Rescue Time – Rescue Time is a free app that acts as your personal productivity assistant. It tracks your time and activity online, interprets it as data, and then sends you a detailed report. Through this report, you’ll be able to see when you’re most productive, where you spend most of your time online, and what you do during that time. It can also block distracting sites and send you reminders to keep you on track.
  • Cold Turkey – this app’s name is pretty self-explanatory. Cold Turkey is a desktop app that helps you go cold turkey from anything that could distract you from studying. Block social media sites, games, and any website that usually causes a distraction during your study hours so you can’t access them. You can allow sites that you do need to use while you’re studying as well. The installation process requires a bit of time and effort, but the system is quite cheat-proof.
  • Freedom – Freedom is another website blocking app. Unlike Cold Turkey that can only be used on your computer, Freedom can be downloaded on your phones and tablets as well. This means that, aside from websites, you can also block apps on your devices. It also offers the option to block all sites online, except for those on your allowlist.
  • Momentum – Momentum is a free Chrome extension. It allows you to replace your Chrome browser’s homepage with a personalized dashboard. In your Momentum dashboard, you can enter your goals for the day, a few to-do tasks, and shortcuts to the links you usually visit for studying.

Search Smart, Not Hard

You know how they say it’s better to study smart, not hard? That applies to searching for information and resources for your online classes, too. Whether it’s a free e-book version of required books that you need or helpful info for your assignments and other schoolwork, you’re sure to find them online if you know where to look. Here are some that are popular with other students like you.

  • Chegg – Chegg is a one-stop-shop website for students looking for resources for their online class needs. Get textbooks up to 90% lower than their regular prices or sell yours for some extra cash. They also have different features like the math problem solver and the video explanation guide for various concepts.
  • Use the minus symbol to remove terms you don’t want to be included in the results – don’t waste time scrolling through results that you don’t need. This is an excellent hack to remember if you’re searching for something vague or something with more than one meaning.
  • Start your search query with “site:” – doing this will help you narrow down your search to whatever parameters you set. To show results only from a specific website, type “site:website url + your search keyword. Other parameters you can use include website type (.org, .edu., etc.) and country (use country code/domain, e.g., site:.ca to see results from Canada only).
  • Use Ctrl+F or Cmd+F to find what you need – don’t you just hate it when you see what you’re looking for from the snippet in the search result but, as soon as you open the website, you find yourself blocked by a huge chunk of text? Save yourself the hassle of going through the whole page and search for what you need immediately instead. On Windows, this function can be performed by pressing Ctrl+F and Cmd+F on Mac.
  • Ask Reddit – love going on forums for info but hate how hard it is to find ones with active users for quick answers? Check out Reddit. On Reddit, there’s a forum (also called a subreddit) for just about anything. And, with over 52 million active users daily, you’re sure to receive the answers you need within hours, if not minutes, of posting your question online.

Let Google Do The Typing For You

Can’t decide if you should listen intently to the live lecture or type notes as your professor talks so you can review them for later? You don’t have to choose.

Open Google Docs and create a new document, then hold down Ctrl+Shift+S (or tap the Fn key twice on Mac) to start the voice typing feature. Hold a mic up against your speakers as the lecture plays, and let Google do the typing for you. This feature can also help you write papers faster and more efficiently.

Take Advantage Of Bookmarking

Bookmarking is an excellent way to compile resources when you’re doing research. Having too many tabs open at once can slow your computer down.

Visit all the websites and pages you need, bookmark them, and close them. Once you need the information on those pages, you can easily access them by browsing your bookmarked pages. To bookmark a website or a page, hit Ctrl+D.

Study Hacks And Tips For Students On A Tight Budget

study hacks and tips on tight budget

Staying in school is hard. It can also be quite expensive. For students who are looking to save on costs where possible, check these out.

Use Microsoft Office

Microsoft Office is free for students – all you need is a valid school email address to sign up for free access to the Microsoft Office 365 Education here.

Buy Used Textbooks

Many used textbooks are just as good as new ones. A lot of students take good care of their books to be able to sell them after the semester or the school year is over. You’ll find used books on sites like Amazon, Chegg, and Textbooks.com.

Rent Books

You can rent books instead of buying them. If you don’t have the budget to buy the books you need, just rent them! Sites like CampusBooks or Textbook Rush have thousands of titles available for rent at amazingly affordable rates.

Use E-books

Looking for an even more affordable alternative? If you don’t mind not having a physical copy of the book, you can search for the e-book copy of the textbook you need instead.

Some sites have an entire library of e-books absolutely free and ready for download. Just make sure you’re using a trusted website to avoid risking your online safety.

Make The Most Of Free Trials

There are tons of tools online that you can use to write better papers, gain access to more useful information, and other things that can help you boost your grades. Often, the issue with these is that they cost money to use.

Thankfully, a lot of them have a free trial period (usually lasts seven days). This should give you enough time to do what you need with the tool and then unsubscribe or discontinue your account.

Share Paid Tools With Friends

What if you find an online tool that you could use in the long run? Well, then chances are your friends could use them too! Find a couple of friends who might be willing to split the cost of membership/subscription with you, so it’s lighter on the pocket. You’ll get full access to all the tool’s features without breaking the bank.

Study Hacks For The Crammer

study hacks for the crammer

 

Some students thrive when they cram. It’s not the healthiest way to study, but it works for some.

If you’re the type who waits until the last minute to study or get their homework or schoolwork done, these hacks will help make those last-minute study sessions count.

TLDR (Chrome Extension)

TLDR is a free Chrome extension that summarizes long texts for you, so you don’t have to read them all when you don’t have enough time to do so.

Speechify

This Chrome extension allows you to listen to any text on the page you’re on if you’re a slow reader in a time crunch. It’s perfect for those who prefer to listen to someone talk about a particular subject rather than read about it.

Youtube Video Transcript

Don’t have time to sit through the entire video? Click on the three dots found at the bottom right side of a Youtube video and click on “Open Transcript.” This will allow you to read the video’s content/script so you can get the information you need faster.

Color-Code Your Notes

Color-coding your notes can save you a ton of time in the long run. When you color-code your notes, it’s easier to find the parts that contain the information you need, thus eliminating the need to scan through the whole page.

Use Old Quizzes & Test Papers

Old quizzes and test papers make great reviewers because they efficiently give you a recap of what you’ve already learned in the past. You’ll spend less time trying to re-learn everything from scratch, and you’ll have more time to study new lessons.

Sleep Well Before A Test

There’s no point in studying when your brain is tired. It won’t retain anything, and you won’t be able to remember much the next day. Sleep early, then wake up early and do some last-minute studying with a fresh and well-rested brain instead.

Studying is not always the most fun thing to do with your time, but it can be extremely rewarding when you persevere and stick to it anyway.

Hopefully, with these hacks, you’ll be able to see studying in a new light. It doesn’t always have to be hard; you just need to be creative and resourceful to make learning productive and enjoyable.

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As a mom of two boys, I've been through the many ups and downs that parenting brings. However, I absolutely love reading and learning about better ways to communicate with my teens. I try to understand what they might be going through in their various stages of development. Communication, understanding, kindness, respect, and leading with love can help us maintain a positive bond with our children, from toddlers to teens and beyond.

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