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Study Smarter and Faster

August 29, 2012

Discover 7 Secrets to Study Smarter and Faster

As a college student, there are thousands of other things I would rather be doing than giving up my day and night to studying. It would take me forever to study a substantial amount of material and I realized this was because my “study time” consisted of 50% studying and 50% being distracted.

What should only take one hour of studying was taking me two hours.

So I searched for tactics I could implement to study more productively, because this would help get my studying done quicker and give me more free time. After finding some success, I’m now being super productive and still having time for fun. I also find myself to be happier because of this balance.

Work Fun Life Balance

I want to share those tactics with you so you can study smarter and faster. You may already be familiar with some of these tactics and some you may not have heard of or tried yet. Ultimately, these tactics are useless without execution so your success depends all on you.

Take organized notes

Let’s start off with the basics here. I know this sounds obvious, but how well do we really take notes? Do you find yourself taking great notes the first two or three weeks of a class and then suddenly taking hardly any notes at all?

This is because we lose our excitement and motivation. I can write many posts on just this topic alone, but I want to quickly offer some tips.

Being organized almost makes you WANT to study. If you ever find yourself lost, you may not be able to understand the next topic. This behavior accelerates at an exponential rate and before we realize it, we don’t have the same urge to pay attention anymore because we feel overwhelmed and so far behind.

To avoid this, we simply need to pay attention in class and take good notes. Here are some tips to help you do that.

From Day One:

  • Take all your notes and papers out of your binder from previous classes.
  • Have your binder organized with plenty of paper for notes and clearly marked divider tabs for all your courses.
  • Have the textbook.
  • Actually pay attention when the professor goes over the syllabus. Here you will find out if they ever give out any extra credit, how the grades are determined, and what to expect.
  • Bring a multi color pen, or multiple pens of various colors for visually engaging notes that you’ll want to read later.
  • Use an organized format for notes. I prefer to use the Cornell method, which really helps with leaving lasting impressions of material.

Organized notes lead to quicker and more effective studying sessions. Stop wasting time finding your material in notes when you could be organized and using that time smartly.

Study regularly, but for shorter periods of time

This tactic is really easy if you use the Cornell note taking method I listed above. Soon after a class (the same or next day – but before next session), summarize your notes and quickly go over what you learned.

If it’s mathematics, do two practice problems. If it is from lecture, write key points or key terms on flash cards even if it’s just a few. That way, when it comes time for a test, you will already have accumulated your flash cards to study and already be familiar with them.

Whether you like to write out traditional, physical flash cards or use a smart phone app, use these to practice in “down times;” such as when you’re waiting in line, in between classes, before you go to sleep, etc. Down times are short periods of time throughout your day that is convenient for you to study without having to give up any extra time.

My favorite secret: The Pomodoro technique

This really helps getting what I need to get done fast. The Pomodoro technique was created by Francesso Cirillo in the 1980’s and has been proven to work. Since I implemented it in my studies, I haven’t been able to find something that helps me remember material quicker.

Here’s how it works. When you have some studying or work to do, bring a timer with you. A kitchen timer or this online timer (Pomodoro Timer found under Special Timers) will work best.

Set the timer for 25 minutes and focus hard on the task at hand with no breaks or interruptions. After the time is up, take a five-minute break, and then focus hard for another 25 minutes. After four cycles of this, take a 25-minute break and then start the process over.

Here’s why it works. Research has shown that our brains can only focus on a certain subject optimally for around 25 minutes before it needs a break. If we only study during these periods, we are maximizing our brains potential, studying when it’s most effective, and eliminating time wasted from getting side tracked.

(For the next set of studying tips check back next Wednesday!)

About the Author: A senior at Cal State Fullerton and a brother of the Lambda Sigma chapter, Reggie Paquette is an entrepreneurship major with a passion for personal development. His most recent project is helping brothers of fraternities around the nation become more successful through his new website at

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Arjun permalink
    August 29, 2012 1:05 pm

    i like it!


  1. 7 Secrets to Studying Smarter and Faster | Fraternity HQ
  2. Study Smarter and Faster cont. « Delta Sigma Pi's Blog

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