The Homework Code: Reviewing Today’s Top “Study Hacks”

It’s been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

This likely explains why a study routine–when repeated the same way time after time– can eventually make it feel like you are going crazy.

And while many techniques are out there to polish your study routine, some tend to work better than others. So put your pen down, take a quick break, and check out HealthyU’s take on some of today’s most popular study hacks.

Background noise

Focus At Will is an app that claims its instrumental background fosters creative thinking more so than complete silence. And it’s not alone– many apps including Pandora and Spotify can provide non-distracting background noise to quietly lull your mind into focus. Studies have found that background noise does work in improving focus and memorizing–it’s the same reason many go to coffee shops to write.

Does it work? Yep, especially when reading or writing. If you’re someone who gets distracted by dead silence while studying, try it. Just make sure there are no lyrics or discernible voices in whatever noise you choose.

Utilizing scent

Some people claim studying with a certain scent in the air is not only pleasant, but can boost memory if you then spray that scent near you right before a test.

Does it work? Though based off the theory of state-dependent learning that states being in a similar environment can trigger memories from the past, you’d probably at best be adding one or two things to your memory and would probably be better off using the time it took to find a scent to simply study.

reading-with-a-dogSpeaking your notes

You might not want to try this one at the library, but speaking aloud your notes as if you were giving a lecture yourself can be one of the easiest ways to remember information. Some professors even suggest turning your notes into a story and recite it to your dog, your roommate, or yourself.

Does it work? Yes. However, this hack is almost exclusively useful to subjects like history, English, or psychology. For subjects like calculus or physiology, stick to simpler mnemonic devices like acronyms.

Scheduling breaks

Often referred to as the “Pomodoro Technique,” scheduled breaks involve working for predetermined blocks of time–usually about 25 minutes. This block of study time becomes a constant unit of measurement, and involves first deciding how many “pomodoros” your studying will take, then working for that many blocks with 5 minute breaks whenever your timer runs out.

Does it work? This technique can work for those who are always thinking about taking a break instead of the material they’re studying. Scheduling breaks can make you more productive by shifting them into more of a reward than a reprieve.

android-logoInteractive notecards

While the old-school method of flashcard studying is tried and true, a wave of interactive notecard apps has made flashcards easier and better. Quizlet, available online and in app stores, if one of those free apps. Used to create flashcards, play learning games, and share notes with others as well as search for cards students have already made.

Does it work? Absolutely. When memorizing, no method is better than flashcards. The beauty of notecard apps is that they shuffle the cards and create quizzes for you and also allow you see your improvement grow with constant grade updates.

Blocking distractions

Today’s final study tip, we’re going with the most simple, but hardest to accomplish one: getting rid of studying sworn enemy, social media. The number one tip for blocking this most tempting of distractions is to simply shut off your wifi or use an app like this one which “blacklists” certain sites while you study.

Does it work? Physically blocking certain websites is good for a short term solution. Think of it more as a way to gradually improve your discipline to stay off distracting sites, however, rather than a fix-all solution.

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