Study habits can make or break your grades: Good ones can help you leap tall buildings and ace tests—while bad ones can make your grades plummet like a barrel over Niagara Falls. Find out which study habits may derail your academic success, so you can toss them out with the trash long before test time comes.
When Good Study Habits Go Bad
Although it may sound like a reality TV special, the truth is, if your once-sterling study habits have crossed over to the ''Dark Side,'' you need to kick them to the curb before they kick your grades in the teeth—metaphorically speaking, of course.
Here's a list of five study habits that need to be given the boot ASAP.
Bad Study Habit #1: Missing Test Content Clues
You can't study effectively if you don't know what you're being tested on. Even if you have a photographic memory, it's virtually impossible to memorize all of your notes and your textbook in their entirety.
Every time your professor mentions that a certain topic will be on a test, don't just roll your eyes and groan; instead, mark that information clearly in your notes. Have a dedicated symbol, like a plus sign or a star, to indicate the information you'll be tested on.
Whatever symbol you choose, only use it for material that will be on the test. If you're ''seeing stars'' on every line of your notes, you overdid it—and will most likely wind up doing a lot of unnecessary studying.
Bad Study Habit #2: Memorizing without Understanding
You memorized a dozen verb conjugations for your Spanish exam, thinking you were prepared for any type of question, only to get tripped up over a set of a ''conditional versus subjunctive'' questions on exam day. Such are the dangers of memorizing without understanding.
A few weeks before your exam, review your notes to make sure that you understand all of the information. Take time to discuss difficult concepts with classmates, the teaching assistant, or your professor.
Sometimes, all it takes is a different perspective to make certain concepts click for you. Convenient online video lessons can help you better understand the material—in a way that's much more entertaining than counting the number of times your teacher said ''theoretically'' during a 30-minute lecture.
Bad Study Habit #3: Leaving Your Notes Unorganized
Taking thorough notes is important. But if your notebook looks like Hoarders: Student Edition, then you're going to need to organize your notes before you can study.
Use a technique like color-coding to help you identify the main points versus the details, and eliminate extraneous information, which can allow you to study more efficiently. As you're ''blinging'' out your notes with the latest in highlighter chic, you'll find yourself becoming more and more familiar with the information.
Bad Study Habit #4: Studying without Memory Tricks
Trying to memorize a diverse collection of facts without the proper techniques can cause information overload. If your study habits don't include mnemonic devices, or memory tricks, your recall of important information might just go ''poof!'' and disappear on test day.
If you've got a lot of names and dates to memorize for a history exam, or maybe a bunch of formulas to learn for your organic chemistry class, you might feel overwhelmed. Try techniques like chunking or the keyword method, just two of several mnemonic devices that can enhance your study habits, to link together key pieces of information.
Bad Study Habit #5: Multitasking While You Study
Multitasking can make us feel like we're saving time and getting more done. However, multitasking means that your attention is divided, which will mess with your memory like a bad case of amnesia on a soap opera.
There are times when multitasking is completely appropriate, like when chatting on the phone while you do laundry. After all, pulling clothes out of the dryer and folding them requires little conscious mental effort. So, it might make sense to organize your notes while waiting for your washer's spin cycle to finish up. But watching TV and texting while reviewing your notes? That's a study habit you need to ditch right now.
To improve your study habits and get a better understanding of what you're learning, use the resources available on Study.com. With over 4,000 courses and informative articles, you're sure to find the help you need to kick your bad study habits and succeed in school.