One of the most effective study tips I know of is one that is so simple that everyone can use it. For every hour scheduled for study, take a ten-minute break. In other words, study for fifty minutes and take a break for ten minutes. The science behind this simple trick is robust. Stress is one of those things that interferes with learning. One study found that stress lasting even two hours triggers the release of corticotropin hormones which, in turn, impede the brain's ability to both create and store new memories. For a student, stress means that you may be working hard only to take steps backward. Taking that ten-minute break each hour of study time is a powerful way to relieve stress.
Effective Study Tips: Relax
At the fifty minute mark stop what you are doing. Close your books. Put away your notes. Close your eyes and breathe. At this point, you are finished studying the subject you were concentrating on. Say you were studying algebra. The time for algebra during this study session is finished. When you return after your break, turn to history. The science behind this move is also rather robust. Researchers found that studying subjects in short bursts over multiple occasions is a powerful way to boost memory and understanding. During your ten-minute break, do your best not to think about algebra (or whatever you were studying. This is your time to relax.
Effective Study Tips: Regroup
During your break, your only task is to do something for yourself that does not involve schoolwork. There are so many things to choose from that what you wind up doing is a matter of personal choice. You could sit and meditate. Get up and walk around. Go to the bathroom. Do chair exercises. Call a friend. The choices are endless. Each choice, however, has one thing in common; they have nothing to do with what you were just doing.
Why is this so important. First, it relieves stress. Releasing stress is beneficial to you in terms of how you remember and forge necessary connections. Secondly, perhaps more important is that this time gives you the opportunity to regroup as you prepare to transition to another subject. Finally, it gives your brain a period of time to embed your newly formed memories and connections.
Effective Study Tips: Restart
With algebra out of the way for this study session with memories and connections secure its time to restart. Now it is time to take out those history books and your notes and devote fifty minutes to history. Your brain is ready for the fresh start. Stress is under control and you are refreshed. What else could you ask for?
I am a particular fan of chocolate. M&Ms are my favorite. Before I restart a new hour of study I make sure that there are some M&Ms available to me. It is a small reward that acts as a cue that a new subject begins. Almost like Pavlov's dogs, this small bit of behaviorism works for me. I don't necessarily advise M&Ms but I do suggest that you find something that works for you.
No study session ought to last more than two hours with breaks included. Remember, our effective study tips basic foundational idea. Study sessions must be short and frequent. During any study session, you must never work on more than two subjects. Those subjects must be totally unrelated. So never study math and science in the same two-hours. That goes for two humanities subjects as well. The three Rs, relax, regroup, restart create space for you to make room for this pattern. Try it for a week and see if your studying doesn't improve.