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How to Develop Good Study Habits

Student in the library developing good study habits One of the most uncomfortable realizations for many new university students is that they are going to have to exchange their old study habits for new, more rigorous ones. It’s just a fact of life: the jump from high school to university-level intensity is quite dramatic. The amount of reading, writing, and the sheer amount of information you are expected to consume on a weekly basis changes considerably. Many students receive a very rude awakening after the end of their first semester when their grades aren’t what they expected them to be because they have been applying their high school standards to university-level courses.

If you are someone who was able to still do quite well in high school with comparatively little work, you are both lucky and unlucky. You are unlucky because that sort of approach to studying is usually not going to fly at the postsecondary level. You need to develop actual productive study habits that you use on a regular basis if you want to do well in university-level courses (for the most part). Below is a list of some of the good study habits of highly effective university students.

Make a study schedule

The best thing to do in order to maximize your chances of actually dedicating the amount of time you need to in order to really have a handle on the material is to make a schedule. Once you know, more or less, what your week looks like in terms of free and occupied time, pencil in some study time in between all of the other things you have to do.

There is actually quite robust neuroscientific evidence behind the claim that in order to achieve your goals, you need to write them down. In fact, people who vividly described their goals, short, medium, and long-term, were 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to accomplish them. Being 20 to 40 percent more likely to actually follow through on something is no trivial number. If developing a viable study schedule you can stick to on a weekly basis is one of your goals at university (and it should be), then writing out your schedule (i.e. your plans to follow through) is a very good idea. You don’t have to go into vivid detail about what you are going to study, how you are going to do it, where, etc. but if you write down what you want to do, or what you aim to do, you are more likely to do it.

Put your phone on airplane mode

Airplane mode isn’t just to make sure you don’t accidentally crash the plane; it is also a self-discipline tool you can use to help you really focus and get down to business. Most people aren’t born with good study habits, they are cultivated over time and through repetition. You do, at the end of the day, have to want to develop and perfect these habits.

One of the best ways to ensure that you do, and that your scheduled study sessions become part of your routine, is to eliminate all potential distractions. That means, first and foremost, ensuring that your phone doesn’t get in the way of what you need to do. There are, of course, extenuating circumstances. If you are expecting a phone call about a job you have been interviewing for, or are awaiting test results from a doctor, you don’t want to screen either of those calls. But you can certainly put a hold on things like social media notifications, and push marketing from DoorDash while you get down to brass tax.

Don’t cram for a test

Cramming is tempting, and often even feels necessary. It is tempting because it is hard to resist the urge to leave future you twisting in the wind the night before an exam, so that present you can enjoy another couple of hours of Netflix or YouTube. It ends up feeling necessary because the only option you are left with when you haven’t been keeping up with the course material is to try and fit as much of it into your brain as possible before you write an exam.

There is ample psychological literature backing up the suggestion that spacing out your studying improves your retention of information. It is what is known as ‘spaced practice’ or ‘distributed practice.’ If you sit down and study for a couple of hours throughout the week, and do so every week leading up to your midterm or final exam, your ability to recall and deploy the information will likely be much better. If you do all of this and still feel that you don’t stand a chance on exam day, there are exam writing services out there that have got your back.

Getting adequate sleep is one of the best study habits

This sounds like the easiest one of the above tips to actually do, but depending on your schedule, it might be the hardest. Your brain needs regular, consistent intervals of sleep in order to function properly. If you sleep too much, or worse, too little, your circadian rhythm becomes disrupted and your body goes into survival mode, which is generally not conducive to high cognitive functioning.

If you really want to make the most of the time that you have set aside to develop your good study habits and absorb the course material, make sure that you are getting as many nights of adequate rest in a row as you can. If you know you have to get up for that 8:30 a.m. class, don’t go to bed at 3:30 a.m. because you wanted to binge watch something on Netflix. Also, adequate sleep the night before an exam is vital.

Becoming an effective studier, and an effective university student in turn, requires a certain amount of dedication and sacrifice. It requires controlling your impulses and exercising self-restraint, but it also requires you to really have the time to set aside. If you are serious about developing good study habits this year, then keep the above in mind, and for those times when there just isn’t enough time to study, get in touch with Homework Help Global.


(2019). “Spaced Practice.” UC San Diego Department of Psychology. Retrieved from:

Murphy, M. (2018). “Neuroscience explains why you need to write down your goals if you actually want to achieve them.” Forbes. Retrieved from: