10 Study Tips to Start the New Year Right

Woohoo! You made it through 2021, and (hopefully) have taken a much-deserved break. It’s time to get back to school rested, relaxed, refreshed, and ready to take on the new year. Whether you’re returning to college, high school, or middle school, here are 10 study tips that will set you up for success this semester:

1. Make a schedule for studying.

Setting a study schedule gives you structure and can help keep you motivated to finish your assignments. Pick a time that works best for you to do your homework every day—this might change throughout the week, depending on your other commitments. And remember to be realistic! Look at your workload each day and think about how much time it will actually take you to get things done. Lastly, don’t forget to set aside time for exercise and fresh air! Self-care is important.

2. Find a study buddy or group.

Finding a study buddy or group can help you stay motivated and on track. Perks include: taking notes for each other if one of you has to miss class, helping each other with homework, and quizzing each other to prepare for tests. Going over confusing material or prepping for a big exam with another person or group of people learning the same things as you is always helpful, even if you already feel confident in the materials. Teaching others helps you learn it even better.

3. Start small and study in chunks.

Stay on top of big assignments, like research papers or large problem sets, by completing a little bit every few days—like one paragraph a night, or a few calculus problems at a time. Then take a break. Trying to complete it all at once at the last minute, or waiting to cram for the exam, might get you through that deadline, but you won’t retain the material as well. Starting early, dividing it into chunks, and reviewing later will help you store that knowledge for the long haul.

4. Get enough sleep!

Sleep is important for your health and your performance in school. According to the CDC, “Students should get the proper amount of sleep at night to help stay focused, improve concentration, and improve academic performance.” Besides the many physical problems that can occur due to lack of sleep, you are also “more likely to have attention and behavior problems, which can contribute to poor academic performance in school.” So if you really want to ace the semester, aim for eight to ten hours of quality sleep every night!

5. Stay organized.

Keep it simple, but come up with an organizational system that works for you, and stick to it. Don’t let loose papers crumple up in your backpack. Instead, keep your assignments and class materials organized by subject, with folders, binders, or notebooks for each class. Use a planner to keep track of your school work.

6. Optimize your study space.

Make sure your study space is well stocked and free from distractions. A cluttered desk or noisy room can make it hard to keep your focus. Try turning off your electronics or notifications while you study. If you can’t find a quiet place, consider headphones to drown out background noise. Make sure you’re comfortable, but don’t get too comfy. A couch or a bed might make it hard to stay awake. A good chair with adequate back and neck support will keep you focused and comfortable. And remember that a change of scenery can be good. If you’re finding it hard to stay focused at your desk, try a coffee shop, a park, the library, or the kitchen table.

7. Use sites like Numerade to get homework help, review study material, and quiz yourself.

Virtual learning sites like Numerade can act as your 24/7 tutor and virtual study buddy. Stuck on a homework problem? The Ask feature allows you to type in a homework problem, or download the iPhone app and snapshot a problem from your phone, to get instant help. The site also has over 1 million video lessons matched to more than 1,600 textbooks, customized quizzes, and an AI tutoring platform that can create customized study plans just for you. Best of all, you can try it for free.

8. Take study breaks.

Taking regular breaks keeps you from burning out or getting study fatigue. Get up and stretch, move around, meditate, take a power nap, or switch to a different task or activity for a while. According to Cornell University, “Research shows that taking purposeful breaks (anywhere from 5–60 minutes) from studying to refresh your brain and body increases your energy, productivity, and ability to focus.” But remember, social media doesn’t count. The best kinds of activities for a break are the ones that will help you re-energize and re-focus. The experts say to “find activities that give your mind a break and allow you to breathe deeply, laugh, move your body, be creative, or ‘zone out’ on purpose.”

9. Reward yourself.

Positive reinforcement is key. Every time you finish an assignment, reach a study goal, or complete a chapter, reward yourself in small ways. This could be a 10-minute break, a movie, a snack, grabbing your favorite takeout, playing a game, or whatever brings you joy. This helps you stay motivated, avoid procrastinating, and build healthy study habits.

10. Don’t get discouraged by a bad grade.

Sometimes bad grades happen, but don’t let it ruin your entire semester. Be proactive about checking your grades and asking for help when you need it. A bad GPA can be turned around, especially early in the semester. This is where your teacher, a study buddy, and sites like Numerade can really come in handy. We asked our students, and 92% of them said that their grades improved with Numerade. So instead of panicking when you see a low score, let us help—whenever, wherever. We’re always here!

Ready to start the year off right? Sign up for Numerade for free today.