How to study effectively: These are our top tips to get the most out of your study sessions

Written by: Christina Pichler, 04.03.2021

Those who learn effectively will always have enough free time! With the following tips, we’ll tell you how you can use your time wisely while not having to compromise on gaining knowledge.

“If knowledge is power, then learning is a superpower.” – Jim Kwik

1. Find your “why”

You started studying for a very specific reason and you probably had a specific goal for your life after college in mind. But after a few semesters and many hours of memorizing flashcards, those goals usually tend to get forgotten. Try to remember why you decided to go to university in the first place. If you learn voluntarily and out of interest, you memorize the material much faster and, in the best case, have fun while doing it!

2. The right learning method

Learning is not a “one-size-fits-all” program. There are different types of learners and, with them, different ways of learning. So, before you start reading your study materials for about 20 times, you should find out how you study best. Do you remember new ideas faster when they are told to you? Do you have to watch a video on how blood circulation works or does it help you to pass on new facts in order to memorize them? The most common types of learners are: 

  • Auditory: teacher- upfront courses don’t bother you, because you learn best by listening! 
  • Visually: The simple club is your favorite YouTube channel because they explain difficult facts with the help of short videos? The best way to learn is by reading or watching movies! 
  • Motoric: Instructions, stories and abstract ideas are not for you? You learn best when you can tackle the subject and do it yourself to understand how to do it properly. 

3. Get active!

We don’t want to persuade you to run a marathon or join a political group, no. We want to encourage you to learn more actively. We all know the feeling of sitting in school and already being bored after third period, that you just started to wait for the school bell to release you to lunch break. At university it’s different, you have chosen what you want to study and you can also organize when and how you study. To make the most of your time, be active in class too! Ask questions, think along, turn off your cell phone and try not only to be physically there but also mentally. You will see that active learning will bring you to your goal much faster!

4. Forget what you can’t

“I will never understand that”, “It doesn’t make any sense”, “I’m just not smart enough” these are sentences that you should remove from your vocabulary from now on! Always remember, when learning, it’s totally okay to start from scratch. So far, no master has fallen from the sky. Forget everything that is holding you back, try not to think about what you can’t yet and focus on what you are currently doing and what you already have in your repertoire. 

5. Find the right place to learn

Do you study alone? Do you memorize issues faster when you discuss them with other students? Are you most concentrated in the library or do you prefer to sit at your desk or in the coffee house around the corner? It is important to find out early on in which places you can concentrate well and in which places many distractions are hidden. This way you avoid wasting time on long walks and waiting for free seats.

6. Planning is half the battle

It is the exam phase and the day suddenly has too little hours? In order to avoid this horror scenario, it is advisable to start learning at an early stage or perhaps even to learn continuously. Give yourself enough time so that unforeseen appointments don’t put a spanner in the works! It is best to create a learning plan at the beginning of the semester in which you can enter all exams and also allocate the time to study before the exams. By the way: planning an extra day or two helps you not to panic even if the unexpected occurs!

7. Allow yourself to take breaks

Talking about planning, it is important to remember that people and above all their minds need a break! Be it to “clear your mind“, to consolidate what you have already learned or simply to not go crazy during the examination period. Especially in stressful times, plan to meet up with a friend for coffee because it is important to be able to switch off from time to time to give your head a break. In your non-study times, it is also important to revitalize your body with brain food. Therefore, we put together a whole article on how you can eat yourself smart with brain foods! By the way, planning breaks is not only fun, but also helps you to concentrate better later. It also has a positive effect on your social connections, and thus also on your well-being. 

8. Your best friend, the airplane mode

You are sitting at your desk, your documents are in front of you, the pen is already in your hand and you are ready to start – but the very second you put the pen on the paper it goes “bing” and you have received a new message . Of course, you now have to check to see who has contacted you and now that you are already on your phone you can quickly check Instagram again too. However, “quick check” often turns into hours that you spend in the depths of various social media apps and suddenly instead of the sociology lecture you are occupied with the latest TikTok dance. Therefore: switch your mobile phone to flight mode before studying. So you can concentrate undisturbed. During breaks you can of course check whether someone has posted something new again!

9. Get moving and find variety

Sitting for long hours staring into a computer is both eye straining and bad for your position. You have probably already noticed how tense you are after long study units. To compensate, it is advisable to do a little bit of exercise. These can vary for everyone, some like to run in the fresh air, others train biceps and triceps in the gym – do what makes you happy! Additional tip: It can help to move, especially when learning vocabulary, and if your roommates are wondering why you have been walking all over the apartment for days, tell them it is for science!

10. Join a study group

No matter what type of learner you are, in most cases it is very advisable to exchange ideas with fellow students! Many cooks spoil the broth, but many minds often find a solution faster. If something is unclear to you, someone can definitely explain the complicated calculation methods to you again. Meeting up before exams can be beneficial for everyone involved, as you can not only share your own thoughts, but also get a new perspective on what you have learned already.

Tutorials are often offered by teachers and can be used in addition to lectures and exercises at most universities. You won’t get any ECTs, but you might get some helpful tips!

11. Work with sample – tests and old questions

Most professors provide sample tests. Doing this is definitely a good idea as it will familiarize you with the exam mode. Many courses also have online platforms where students can exchange information about exam questions. Of course, you won’t find the questions and answers for your exam there, but you will get an idea of ​​what is important and may be asked a lot.

It can also be an advantage to exchange ideas with students who have already mastered the subject you are currently studying. They will surely have helpful tips for you!

Study smart, not just hard!

Any questions?

We are happy to help!