11 Good Study Habits to Develop
Written by Coursera • Updated on
Good study habits include finding a quiet location to study, taking breaks, settings goals, and taking practice tests. Here's the full list, and the psychological reasons why they work.
Studying can be hard. The good news is that anybody can develop good study habits to make studying more effective, efficient, and enjoyable.
Want to develop good study habits? Start small—don’t expect to do everything in this list, at least not right away; pick one or two instead. It’s also important to set realistic and achievable goals for yourself.
Good study habits to develop
Here are 11 tips to improve your study habits:
Find a good place to study.
Space out your studying.
Set study goals for each session.
Study with a group.
Take practice tests.
Use your own words.
Ask for help.
Take care of yourself.
Let's take a closer look at how you can implement each of these habits.
1. Find a good place to study.
Finding a good location to study is one of the most important elements of studying well. Look for a quiet place with minimal distractions—someplace where you’ll be able to focus, and won’t be interrupted by loud sounds or people who constantly want your attention.
A school or public library, a coffee shop, or a quiet corner of your house can all be good places to start.
Should I stick to one place to study?
Not necessarily. Some studies show that occasionally changing where you study can help retain information. This is because studying the same material in different locations helps your brain create multiple associations with that material, making it easier for you to remember it . It can be beneficial to find three or four places you like to study and switch locations when you’re feeling stuck or need a change of pace. That said, everybody is different. Find what works best for you.
2. Minimize distractions.
Picking a good location to study can be the first step in keeping yourself focused on your work. But there are many types of distractions that can reach you no matter where you choose to work. Here are some tips on minimizing these distractions:
Turn off your wifi: If you’re working on a computer and you don’t need your wifi, try turning it off. This can keep you from inadvertently wandering into the distracting parts of the internet.
Be mindful of your phone: It’s no secret that our smartphones can be hugely distracting. Turning off your notifications, keeping your phone out of sight in your bag, or giving it to a friend to keep you from checking it too often can help you stay focused. You might also try a focus app, like Forest or Focus To-Do, that can block distracting apps and set timers for study sessions.
Study with a friend: Sometimes studying with a friend or two, whether or not you’re working on the same material, can help keep you accountable and focused. Make sure you each are on the same page about studying and keeping one another distraction-free, at least until it’s time to take a break.
Should I listen to music while I study?
Listening to music while you study has some benefits; it can boost your mood and calm anxiety or stress. But studies show that reading comprehension tends to fall when the music is too loud, fast-paced, or contains lyrics . Stick with calming, wordless songs while studying, and save the upbeat numbers for breaks.
3. Take breaks.
Taking intentional breaks has been linked to better retention, increased attention, and boosts in energy. Research shows that working for around 50 minutes, then giving yourself a 15- to 20-minute break, can lead to optimum productivity . Here are a few ways you can give yourself a break:
Take a short walk
Listen to a mood-boosting song
Relax with a friend
Zone out and daydream
Have a snack
Take a shower
Clean your desk or room
Not all breaks are created equal. Checking your phone or social media as a study break has actually been linked to a decrease in performance .
Become job-ready with a Coursera Plus subscription
Start 7-day free trial
- Get access to 7,000+ learning programs from world-class universities and companies, including Google, Yale, Salesforce, and more
- Try different courses and find your best fit at no additional cost
- Earn certificates for learning programs you complete
Start 7-day free trial
4. Space out your studying.
Cramming can still help you get a good grade on a test, but studies show that you’re much more likely to forget that information as soon as the test is over. Really holding onto the material you learned (and making exam seasons less stressful) requires consistent and well-spaced study sessions.
Instead of saving your studying for before a test, briefly review material you learned once a week. If you are studying for an exam, space out your studying up to several weeks (or even months, depending on the test) leading up to the exam day. This can help you retain the information long term.
5. Set study goals for each session.
Set study goals for each session of studying you have. These can be time-based or content-based. For example, you might aim to study for two hours, or review three chapters of your textbook—or both.
Don’t be too harsh on yourself if you didn’t get through as much as you had planned; sometimes studying can take longer than expected. Keep taking well-spaced breaks, and schedule another study session.
6. Reward yourself.
Rewarding yourself with treats—“bribing” yourself—has been linked to better self-control, and can be helpful in forming good habits . Telling yourself you’ll get a small reward if you finish the section you wanted to get through, or perhaps a larger reward if you have a productive day of studying, can be good motivation to get to your goal.
Small rewards can be a candy bar, a hot drink from your favorite coffee shop, a quick game of your choice, or a short episode of a TV show. Bigger rewards for a long day of studying or getting done with an exam can include getting your favorite meal, spending some time relaxing with friends, or making time for your favorite activity.
You are Currently on slide 1
7. Study with a group.
There are several benefits to forming a study group. Group members can help one another work through difficult problems, provide encouragement, hold each other accountable to studying goals, provide different perspectives, and make studying more enjoyable. Even explaining difficult concepts to others can help with comprehension and retention.
If you have a group study session, set a goal the group will work towards and take periodic breaks as you would studying by yourself.
8. Take practice tests.
Tests and practice tests have been long seen as useful tools to help students learn and retain information. Besides revealing gaps in knowledge and reducing exam anxiety, being tested makes us retrieve information from memory—a powerful, study-backed way of holding onto information we’ve learned .
Don’t have a practice exam? There are several ways you can “test” yourself and gain the same benefits. Try the following methods:
Write your own questions
Search for practice questions online
Have a friend quiz you
9. Use your own words.
Expressing an idea in your own words increases your understanding of a subject and helps your brain hang on to information. After you read a section of text, summarize important points by paraphrasing.
10. Ask for help.
You might find yourself stuck on a problem or unable to understand the explanation in a textbook. Somebody who is able to walk through the issue with you might provide the fresh explanation you need. Approach your teacher or professor, teaching assistant, friend, or study group member for new ways to understand what you’re stuck on. Feel like you can benefit from being coached through a subject? Consider looking for a tutor.
And don’t forget the myriad online tools that might be at your disposal, like the Khan Academy. A quick search through Google or YouTube can also surface helpful articles or videos on subjects you’re trying to grasp.
11. Take care of yourself.
At the end of the day, your brain is an organ in your body—take care of it by taking care of yourself. Get regular exercise, eat well, don’t overdrink, get good sleep, and take care of your mental wellbeing.
Sleep: Studies have linked sleep deprivation to decreased cognitive function, including reduced attention spans and doing worse on tests . Everybody’s sleep needs are different, but people typically need between seven and eight-and-a-half hours of sleep a night. Plus, getting more sleep can make you happier and benefit your social life.
Food: Try to incorporate more fruits, vegetables, plant sources of proteins, nuts, and unsaturated oils like olive oil into your diet, all of which have been linked to better cognitive performance .
Exercise: Exercise brings oxygen to the part of your brain responsible for thought, encourages the development of new nerve cells, and boosts brain cell connections . This makes for brains that are more neuroplastic and efficient—plus it brings a host of other health benefits, like lower blood pressure, reduced mental stress, and weight control.
Mental wellness: Mental health is important because it helps us deal with stress, improves our relationships with others, allows us to live more meaningfully, and be more productive in our work. Exercising, eating well, and getting good sleep can each boost our mental health. But there are other ways of fortifying mental strength, such as connecting with others, practicing gratitude, meditating, and developing a sense of meaning in life .
Forming good habits can be difficult, but starting with small, achievable steps can set you up to have consistent study habits for the rest of your life. Explore more personal development courses from leading universities and institutions on Coursera. Sign up for a free 7-day trial and start learning today.
Looking to get a degree? Knowing what’s out there is a good first step. Take a look at bachelor’s and master’s degrees on Coursera.
Written by Coursera • Updated on
This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.
Habit 1: Be Proactive- Take the initiative and the responsibility to make things happen. Habit 2: Begin With The End In Mind- Start with a clear destination so as to understand where you are now, where you're going and what you value most. Habit 3: Put First Things First- Manage yourself.What are 4 study habits? ›
- Establish a study area at home.
- Communicate with the teacher.
- Keep assignments organized.
- Avoid procrastination.
- Take notes in class.
- Highlight key concepts in the reading materials.
- Prepare your book-bag before going to bed.
- Eliminate Distractions. ...
- Engage With the Material. ...
- Space Out Your Studying. ...
- Eat Smart Snacks. ...
- Find the Light. ...
- Try Out Different Environments. ...
- Exercise Before Studying. ...
- Get Enough Sleep.
- Analyse your individual learning style.
- Evaluate your current commitments.
- Plan your study time for each class.
- Develop a schedule.
- Set realistic goals.
- Make study time part of your routine.
- Plan your breaks.
- Try the Pomodoro Technique.
- Do not skip breakfast.
- Mindful Eating.
- Try Limiting Alcohol Consumption.
- Use AI Study tools.
- Keep Revising.
- Keep a focus on understanding.
- Keep your room clean.
- Establish a skin routine.
- Get a healthy amount of sleep. This is some advice that you'll be happy to follow. ...
- Set up a place to study that promotes focus. Prepare your space and your mind for maximum concentration. ...
- Take a break from the virtual world. ...
- Make the information interesting.
- Find a Place to Study Regularly. Consistency is key when it comes to studying, so do your best to make a habit of it! ...
- Keep Track of Deadlines and Important Dates. ...
- Don't Cram for Your Exam. ...
- Organize a Study Group. ...
- Review Your Notes After Class. ...
- Ask for Help.
Habit 1: Be Proactive- Take the initiative and the responsibility to make things happen. Habit 2: Begin With The End In Mind- Start with a clear destination so as to understand where you are now, where you're going and what you value most. Habit 3: Put First Things First- Manage yourself.What is study habits in school? ›
Study habit is an action such as reading,taking notes, holding study groups which the students perform regularly and habitually in order to accomplish the task of learning. Study habits can be described as effective or ineffective depending upon whether or not they serve the students well.How can I stay focused and study hard? ›
- Set up a study space. ...
- Set a study routine. ...
- Set goals and rewards. ...
- Set a study schedule. ...
- Share your goals, rewards and schedule. ...
- Eliminate distractions. ...
- Downtime is also productive time. ...
- Sleep helps you learn.
Music can motivate you, improve your mood, and help you relax. It can even help you focus so you can study or work. But different types of music can have different effects. Many people find music helps them concentrate while studying and working.What is the best motivation to study? ›
Come up with a solid reason why you want to build better study habits, like getting better grades, doing well on tests, or having less stress around assignment deadlines. Create a routine you plan to follow every time you want to study, like going to a specific place at a specific time. Commit to change.What time is best for study? ›
Best time to study according to science
According to science, there are two windows of time the brain is most receptive to new material: 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, and 4:00 pm to 10:00 pm.
Most people recommend studying for 3 to 4 hours every day on a set schedule that allows your brain to work at its full capacity. You should avoid studying for more than five or six hours as this can lead to burnout and cause you to lose the information that you have learned.What is one good habit you have? ›
Good habits are a positive behavior that you continually practice. Some examples of good habits include: exercising, eating healthy, practicing meditation, and more.Why do students need good study habits? ›
Good study skills can increase your confidence, competence, and self-esteem. They can also reduce anxiety about tests and deadlines. By developing effective study skills, you may be able to cut down on the numbers of hours spend studying, leaving more time for other things in your life.