The Benefits of Studying


David O’Grady, Staff Writer

Studying has always been a talking point between students and teachers.  Although many teachers say that students should study, and there being conclusive proof to this, many students still don’t.  However, making studying a habit should be a priority among students, especially in high school.  Here, I’ll show you some helpful practices to try when you’re studying, and back it up with evidence from an experiment.

A good way to develop a habit is to start practicing it.  There isn’t a specific time that we can narrow down for developing habits, as it can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days according to a study by Phillippa Lally.  Studying is an especially hard habit to develop, considering how often it has to be done and how boring it can seem to some students.  

Studying doesn’t just help with school, though.  According to a study by the University of Saskatchewan, it can help develop higher self-confidence, competence, and generally improve your life.  Good study skills also come with the benefit of retaining information better than usual, which is always helpful no matter what kind of climate you’re in, be it school or work, or maybe even at home.

Sometimes, hidden benefits from extracurricular activities can improve your at-school performance.  If you’ve played an instrument for at least a year, it’s been shown to increase your academic abilities.  This kind of habit isn’t really studying, but more of an indirect way to increase your brainpower and become overall more confident in your mind.

Better ways to study, if you already have the habit and want to improve it further, include testing yourself with flashcards or having others quiz you off the top of your head.  Another way to do it, and something that will likely appeal to some of our readers, is to turn off all interrupting sounds on your phone or computer, set a timer for 25-30 minutes, and study for that time.  When the timer goes off, reward yourself with something small but worth the wait. (These habits come from a Stanford University professor.)

Listening to music is another way to stimulate the brain.  It’s actually a fact that music activates both hemispheres of the brain, improving memory and possibly production.  However, lyrical music could also hinder study ability, so hold off on that and try to find some instrumental music you like.

As part of a smaller study I organized, I made a quiz online.  The participants, students from Hug and Clayton Middle School, took a 16-question test to judge their skills at randomly being given a blind test.

After taking the test, they studied for 20 minutes and went back in with a fresh mindset. Our first response had a 5-8 answer ratio, which was then compared to the next grade, a 13/16 ratio – though they thought they regressed.  They said that they “second-guessed” themselves the second time around, which may have been due to them not knowing the answers, but overall got better points.

Our next participant had an initial 7/16 ratio, but bumped it up as they studied to a 12/16 or ¾ ratio. Clearly, the studying helped improve their scores, even if it was just because they reconsidered their options after knowing the material. 

A third participant took the quiz and improved from their first time, though not as drastically.  They had an initial 5-8 ratio as well, and brought it up to 11/16 (not too much improvement, but they still improved).

Overall, it’s been proven through many studies in the past and this one as well that studying can be really helpful.  Especially since we’re coming up on finals, study with the strategies described above and you’ll be much better equipped to tackle those big tests.

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