10 Study Habits You Need to Break.

While there are different methods of studying that suit different people there are some universal study habits all learners should avoid. These habits more often either hinder effective learning or are just not worth the time you invest in them. I’m a student like yourself and there was a time when these habits were a part of my study routine but over the years I’ve had to let them go to embrace more effective study techniques. Well let’s quit the chat and get to it:

Studying without a study Plan:

Here’s the main point: You cannot just jump out of your dorm room and get on your way to the library to go and ‘study’ !. Having a study plan will save you from frustration. You need to know exactly what you will be studying at a certain time. Bear in mind that the word study is ambiguous so when you make up your mind spontaneously to go and study, you will most likely end up wasting time doing something unproductive. Your study plan helps eliminate the ambiguity involved in studying during your study sessions. To learn more about making a study plan click here.

Not Knowing the Technique that works best for you:

Like I said earlier there are different methods that suit different people. What works for me may not work for you. A dangerous study habit is not knowing how to study in a way that suits you and effectively meets your needs. Some people do better jotting notes while studying, some work better with diagrams, colors and so on. When you are not using the technique that works best for you, you’ll most likely end up frustrated and unhappy while studying. Learn how to discover your technique here.

Reading Out Loud:

While reading out loud may seem beneficial to you in some cases, it is never a good form of reading. When you read a portion of a text out loud it barely makes it through your short term memory. This is why most people who practice this bad habit encounter serious problems with recalling what they studied days after they read it. Besides that, reading out loud in the midst of other people (even when you whisper) is a distraction to others. Breaking this sort of habit can be hard but the best way to do so is to replace it with a better study habit.


I’m sure we have all experienced the moment when we are just looking for the best place to study and happen to stumble upon some distractions along the way.

Or even the moment when we are studying but we just feel the need to search for something (even though more than 50% of the time we are not sure of what we are searching for). This is roaming, I am guilty of it and I think you’ve done it at some point too. Most times when we get distracted by something in our current environment, the environment is not at fault. In fact it is our minds that seek entertainment. Somewhere in our minds while studying we just can’t wait for the next “not-boring” event to occur in our lives. Let’s face it, Reading is boring and I’m sure we’d all rather keep looking for the ‘perfect place to read’ than to actually ‘read’.

Highlighting the text:

And yes, I am guilty of doing this in the past. While the use of colours can help you learn better (that is if colours are you technique), the use of highlighters to colour your text can hinder your ability to make inferences from what you are reading. That said, I think it is best to keep the use of highlights in your text at a very minimum level. I recommend a maximum of three highlights per page.

Lack of Preparation:

It is essential to have all your study tools ready before you begin a study session. This helps you keep your focus on the study material and gives you less chances to roam (*I’m just searching for a pencil* we tell ourselves). The lack of preparation can do a lot of damage to your study time. It could make you achieve a lot less than you had hoped to achieve.

Music and television while studying, seriously?

Music can be good but that depends on the type of music. Classical music and other types of music that have no lyrics and have calm acoustics (e.g the saxophone) could be beneficial to your study session. However listening to Rap, rock, or any other type of music that actually makes you more excited than normal hinders your study. I tried doing this just last semester and those study sessions were my most unproductive. Then yes, Television? Seriously, how do you intend to learn anything when your favourite show is on. It’s impossible to watch-study (if you mean to seriously study that is).

The point is: Music simulates a good portion of your brain and Television appeals to your visual senses a thousand times more than the book you’re trying to study. So when you try to “watch-study” or “listen-study” or even “watch-listen-study” at the same time, you’ll end up skipping the study part of it.

Cramming/ Rote-Review:

We all know this. Do not cram. Cramming beats the point of learning. When you cram you never truly learn or understand whatever you cram. Cramming a semester’s worth of course content the night before the exam will not only leave you frustrated, and sleep deprived (you may even loose a bolt or two from your brain), You are left with only a 50% chance of getting a good grade in that exam. Cramming never gets you a great grade, you need to actually understand what you are studying to get great grades.

Rote-Review unlike cramming is actually a study technique that an unfortunate large number of people employ. After you read, it is not advisable to try repeating all you have read exactly how you read it. You end up cracking you head up trying to memorize words verbatim from your book. Although memorizing is good for some exams, it is essential to understand what you have read first. There are better and safer alternatives to Rote-Reviewing.


This is an old time friend of ours we have been told time and again to become enemies with. DO NOT PROCRASTINATE is definitely a highlighted point in any long, boring “how to study ” speech we may have received in the past. Well that is just the point, do whatever you’ve planned to do at the time you’ve planned to do it. Study what you ought to study today if you want to reduce your troubles tomorrow. I know “not procrastinating” is not easy so I’ve put together a little article for you that could help you make the fact that you and procrastination are enemies official.

Not keeping track of progress:

This is very important, almost as important as actually studying. Ideally keeping track of your progress is part of studying. You should know exactly how good you are in certain courses. You should have a note (at least a mental one) in which you keep track of the topics you have mastered, the practice tests you have taken, your confidence level in specific topics and the topics you need to do some more work on. This is important for fulfilling and effective study.

if you have more suggestions, questions or just something you’d like to say, drop it as a comment.



How to get the study technique that works for you

Well, this is a really short post. I hope you enjoy reading it.

There are different types of study techniques and I’m sure you’ve already had to use at least one. But it could be a problem when you find that the techniques you’ve been using don’t work well for you. The best way to work around this problem in my opinion is taking out what I call an

Experimentation month (I recommend that this month should be one of your holidays).

  •  Within this month you should try 4 study techniques that seem interesting to you. Pick up 4 materials from a field you have little or no idea about. For instance, If you were a student taking a physics major, I’d say look for some more articles related to human resources. Just pick out random articles from the news, the internet, a text in the library. The articles you pick should be between 2 – 4 pages long (your aim is not to really to get into the field, these articles are for experimentation). You could also pick up materials related to your field but ensure that it is something you did not already know.


  • Study each material with a study method for a period of time say 1 day. For instance, if you picked up four articles, study the first article with the first method and so on. At the end you should try to access your level of understanding of the topics discussed in these articles. Now as much as possible pick articles that you feel are at the same level of difficulty.


  • Your level of understanding and generally comfort with an article you studied will be a direct indication of your comfort with the study technique you used in studying that particular material. Do note that there are certain other factors that may come to play but if you do follow these guidelines I think you may come closer to finding a comfortable study technique. Note the technique that you used in studying the material you understand the most


  • Make a list. The technique used in studying your most comprehended material should be your #1 technique. The technique used In studying your least comprehended material should be your #4 technique.


  • Pick another set of articles like you did in the first step. This time study two of these materials with your #1 technique and study the other 2 with your #2 technique. If you find that you understand the materials you studied with the #1 technique better than you understand the other materials then this technique may be the best technique for you.


  • Keep doing these steps for the entire month. Change the techniques if you please, and feel free to use some of the techniques you used for the first trial of the process. At the end of the month review the technique you found yourself using more often to study the materials.


  • The technique you used more often ought to be your study technique because the fact that you wanted to keep using it to study is an indication that you are more comfortable with it.


  • Getting the technique is just part of the process. If you want to stick to it and get really comfortable you have to use this technique consistently until it becomes a part of your study habit. There are different methods for making a technique a habit but note this, if you do something consistently for 30 days it becomes a habit.

I hope this post was helpful, if you have any suggestions, criticisms or remarks please you are welcome to leave them as comments below.

How to make a study plan [NOW].

Hey there,

Congratulations!!! You’re thinking somewhere in your head about making a study plan. It’s about time you upgraded that thought – DO IT. YES!!! follow the steps in this post and just DO IT.

Step 1: Gather your planning tools:

tools for planning

This is important. Tools could include a blank sheet of paper, color pencils, a calendar and so on. If you have a PC or a mobile device you’re in luck . There are a lot of apps for planning on mobile devices and on your PC.

For the steps in this post I recommend 3 blank sheets of paper, a ruler (if you prefer to be neat) and some color pencils(not necessary but they help a lot). Alternatively a calendar app will be most useful.

Step 2: Consider the Study Period:

If you want to study for a test or exam, you need to consider the amount of time you have till that test or exam.

For instance you could have a math test in three days and a physics test in 5 days. This means you have to study for both tests. Your study plan does not have to geared towards preparation for a test. In fact, by definition of a study plan, it shouldn’t.

(A Study plan is an organized schedule that allows a student schedule study times and outline study goals)

IMPORTANT: While you could make a study plan that lasts for an entire semester, I do not recommend this because there may be events that come up which you cannot foresee while making your plan. I believe you should make a study plan template which you can use flexibly for future planning.

Step 3: Gather Study Material:

Make a concise list of the materials you need to study during the period. This could include recommended texts, some cool book you think will help improve your understanding of the course or subject, lecture notes, video tutorials, mp3 records of lectures. Write all these down on your first blank sheet.

Step 4: Prioritize:

course list confidence level

If you’re studying several courses within the same period (which is usually the case) you need to make a list of these courses. After making this list you should assign each course a comfort level. The comfort level represents your level of mastery and overall confidence in the course. You could use #5 to represent a high level of mastery and confidence and #1 to represent a low level of comfort.

Step 5: Fill out your other activities.

Now is the time to bring out your calendar app. You’ll want to set it to a weekly view so eventually, your app should look a little like this:


(I made that with oneNote). You app or drawing may look a bit different from this but hopefully you get the idea.

For each day, you should fill out the hours that are occupied with fixed items on your current schedule like your lectures, meal time, extra-curricular and any other activities you have to keep up with. I recommend you use a color theme for the different categories of items. Note that the calendar should display all the days you have for the entire period of study. In the image above my study period is from Sunday to Wednesday.

Step 6: Identify your study sessions:

Now that you’ve filled in your fixed activities for each day of the study period. It is time to identify your study sessions. Reflect on your past study experiences and try to identify the time in the day you felt most comfortable studying in the past. Your favourite study time during the day varies. It could be in the morning, afternoon or evening.

For each day in your study period, identify your free hours. (you’re sure you won’t be on the move during these hours?). these absolutely free hours are your study sessions. If you are free for 2 hours in the morning and the morning is your favorite study time, then you should mark these two hours as a *useful study session because you’ll enjoy studying more during this time. You could have study sessions other times of the day as well.


Step 7: Set your goals:

This step is simply a call to realism.

Say you are offering a course CSC101 and you have five books related to the course (with each book being at least 500 pages long). These books are all part of the study material I discussed in step 3 above. However if you are going to seat for a CSC101 test in a week, you cannot include finishing all these books as your goal.

In fact to be more realistic I don’t think anyone needs to finish a full text book to prepare for a test that comes up in a week or less. So what you could do is scheme through the book and pick out the relevant chapters. Reading these chapters, studying lecture notes, taking practice tests, review… could all be part of your study goals.

Step 8: Specify what to study during each session:

Now that you have your sessions, it is time to fill out what you should do during each study session. There is no general rule for this but there are some guidelines:

  • Subjects you have problems with should show up more during your study sessions (subjects with #1 priority – see step 4).
  • NEVER do this ([6:00 – 8:00P.M] – study CHM113), what you should do is specify exactly what part of the studying you want to do for example: ([6:00 – 8:00P.M] – Read chapter 5 of chemistry text). Other instances include:
  • [6:00 – 8:00P.M] – review CHM113 lecture notes

            [6:00 – 8:00P.M] – take a CHM113 practice test.

            [6:00 – 8:00P.M] – review previous assignments and assessments for CHM113.

            [6:00 – 8:00P.M] – do CHM113 assignments.

  • Be as realistic as possible in assigning tasks to the various study sessions.
  • Courses you have problems with should be tackled especially during the useful study periods (your favorite study time).
  • Use a colour theme to represent each course you are going to study. Say you are studying CHM113 and PHY230 you can use a green highlight for all activities related to CHM113 and a red for all PHY230. that way whenever you look at your plan, your perception of your next activity will be more intuitive. You’ll know that all things green are CHM113 related and all things red are PHY230 related.

Well, by now i expect you’ve made your study plan. if you have any questions, remarks, contributions or anything please leave them as comments below.