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6 study habits that will make students successful

FRIDAY, JUNE 12, 2015 10:40 AM

In elementary school, in-class lessons and activities are mostly responsible for how much students learn. As students progress through elementary and into middle and high school, though, homework and studying become much bigger factors in how well students do in a particular class. Being able to learn independently is a key skill students should have by the end of high school, and is even a factor in their college readiness. As students move into college, they'll have much more autonomy, which means they'll have to know how to effectively study and review information on their own. That said, here are six study habits students can use to learn independently:

1. Study regularly
The most important habit students should practice is incorporating studying into their daily routines. That's because studying for a little bit each day has been proven to be a more successful method than trying to study all at once by cramming. According to a 2012 study conducted by the University of California Los Angeles, cramming for a test isn't effective because it means sacrificing sleep, which is necessary for recharging the brain.

"Academic success may depend on finding strategies to avoid having to give up sleep to study, such as maintaining a consistent study schedule across days," Andrew J. Fuligni, senior author of the study, said in a statement.

2. Make a plan
Many students who aren't sure how to study simply don't know where to start. That's why it's so important for them to first get organized and make a plan. Generally, it's a good idea to study difficult subjects first, and follow up with easier subjects or review. That way, students can spend as much time as they need on the harder ones. Have them break down their study time into blocks for different subjects, giving themselves 5- to 10-minute breaks in between.

3. Practice active reading
Simply skimming through notes or a textbook isn't the best way to deeply learn information. Active reading requires students to pay attention to and interact with their notes or texts. Have them highlight or underline what they're reading, and make note of any concepts that don't completely make sense. They can bring up questions in class or with their peers.

4. Set up a homework zone
In the age of technology, finding a distraction-free work zone is pretty difficult, but checking social media or phone notifications while studying can really affect students' success on tests and assessments. According to Psychology Today, checking Facebook just once in a 15-minute time span while studying negatively affected students in school. Students should therefore limit distractions as much as possible. Set up a comfortable desk and chair in a quiet spot in the house, away from the television. Stock it completely with school and office supplies so that they don't have to get up while they're doing schoolwork. Though removing smartphones and social media may not be possible, encourage them to refrain from checking them until their study breaks.

5. Use technology
Sure, technology can be distracting, but there are actually a lot of ways it can benefit students who are trying to study. Web-based resources for learning new concepts are ubiquitous, from online practice tests to study games, online flash cards, educational YouTube videos and more. Plus, studying the same subject matter in several different ways will increase their understanding and help them retain information better.

6. Work in groups
Often students learn best when they're able to work together with their peers to understand difficult concepts better. Study groups allow students to get creative by quizzing and teaching one another, having contests, reviewing together and doing other activities. Some students work best independently, but for others, working in a group can help them stay motivated and engaged in what they're learning.