11 Good Study Habits to Develop (2023)


Professional Development

11 Good Study Habits to Develop

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Good study habits include finding a quiet location to study, taking breaks, settings goals, and taking practice tests. Here's the full list, and the psychological reasons why they work.

11 Good Study Habits to Develop (1)

Studying can be hard. The good news is that anybody can develop good study habits to make studying more effective, efficient, and enjoyable.

Want to develop good study habits? Start small—don’t expect to do everything in this list, at least not right away; pick one or two instead. It’s also important to set realistic and achievable goals for yourself.

Good study habits to develop

Here are 11 tips to improve your study habits:

  1. Find a good place to study.

  2. Minimize distractions.

  3. Take breaks.

  4. Space out your studying.

  5. Set study goals for each session.

  6. Reward yourself.

  7. Study with a group.

  8. Take practice tests.

  9. Use your own words.

  10. Ask for help.

  11. Take care of yourself.

Let's take a closer look at how you can implement each of these habits.

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1. Find a good place to study.

Finding a good location to study is one of the most important elements of studying well. Look for a quiet place with minimal distractions—someplace where you’ll be able to focus, and won’t be interrupted by loud sounds or people who constantly want your attention.

A school or public library, a coffee shop, or a quiet corner of your house can all be good places to start.

Should I stick to one place to study?

Not necessarily. Some studies show that occasionally changing where you study can help retain information. This is because studying the same material in different locations helps your brain create multiple associations with that material, making it easier for you to remember it [1]. It can be beneficial to find three or four places you like to study and switch locations when you’re feeling stuck or need a change of pace. That said, everybody is different. Find what works best for you.

2. Minimize distractions.

Picking a good location to study can be the first step in keeping yourself focused on your work. But there are many types of distractions that can reach you no matter where you choose to work. Here are some tips on minimizing these distractions:

  • Turn off your wifi: If you’re working on a computer and you don’t need your wifi, try turning it off. This can keep you from inadvertently wandering into the distracting parts of the internet.

  • Be mindful of your phone: It’s no secret that our smartphones can be hugely distracting. Turning off your notifications, keeping your phone out of sight in your bag, or giving it to a friend to keep you from checking it too often can help you stay focused. You might also try a focus app, like Forest or Focus To-Do, that can block distracting apps and set timers for study sessions.

  • Study with a friend: Sometimes studying with a friend or two, whether or not you’re working on the same material, can help keep you accountable and focused. Make sure you each are on the same page about studying and keeping one another distraction-free, at least until it’s time to take a break.

Should I listen to music while I study?

Listening to music while you study has some benefits; it can boost your mood and calm anxiety or stress. But studies show that reading comprehension tends to fall when the music is too loud, fast-paced, or contains lyrics [2]. Stick with calming, wordless songs while studying, and save the upbeat numbers for breaks.

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3. Take breaks.

Taking intentional breaks has been linked to better retention, increased attention, and boosts in energy. Research shows that working for around 50 minutes, then giving yourself a 15- to 20-minute break, can lead to optimum productivity [3]. Here are a few ways you can give yourself a break:

  • Take a short walk

  • Listen to a mood-boosting song

  • Relax with a friend

  • Stretch

  • Meditate

  • Zone out and daydream

  • Have a snack

  • Take a shower

  • Clean your desk or room

Not all breaks are created equal. Checking your phone or social media as a study break has actually been linked to a decrease in performance [4].

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4. Space out your studying.

Cramming can still help you get a good grade on a test, but studies show that you’re much more likely to forget that information as soon as the test is over. Really holding onto the material you learned (and making exam seasons less stressful) requires consistent and well-spaced study sessions.

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Instead of saving your studying for before a test, briefly review material you learned once a week. If you are studying for an exam, space out your studying up to several weeks (or even months, depending on the test) leading up to the exam day. This can help you retain the information long term.

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5. Set study goals for each session.

Set study goals for each session of studying you have. These can be time-based or content-based. For example, you might aim to study for two hours, or review three chapters of your textbook—or both.

Don’t be too harsh on yourself if you didn’t get through as much as you had planned; sometimes studying can take longer than expected. Keep taking well-spaced breaks, and schedule another study session.

6. Reward yourself.

Rewarding yourself with treats—“bribing” yourself—has been linked to better self-control, and can be helpful in forming good habits [5]. Telling yourself you’ll get a small reward if you finish the section you wanted to get through, or perhaps a larger reward if you have a productive day of studying, can be good motivation to get to your goal.

Small rewards can be a candy bar, a hot drink from your favorite coffee shop, a quick game of your choice, or a short episode of a TV show. Bigger rewards for a long day of studying or getting done with an exam can include getting your favorite meal, spending some time relaxing with friends, or making time for your favorite activity.

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7. Study with a group.

There are several benefits to forming a study group. Group members can help one another work through difficult problems, provide encouragement, hold each other accountable to studying goals, provide different perspectives, and make studying more enjoyable. Even explaining difficult concepts to others can help with comprehension and retention.

If you have a group study session, set a goal the group will work towards and take periodic breaks as you would studying by yourself.

8. Take practice tests.

Tests and practice tests have been long seen as useful tools to help students learn and retain information. Besides revealing gaps in knowledge and reducing exam anxiety, being tested makes us retrieve information from memory—a powerful, study-backed way of holding onto information we’ve learned [6].

Don’t have a practice exam? There are several ways you can “test” yourself and gain the same benefits. Try the following methods:

  • Create flashcards

  • Write your own questions

  • Search for practice questions online

  • Have a friend quiz you

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9. Use your own words.

Expressing an idea in your own words increases your understanding of a subject and helps your brain hang on to information. After you read a section of text, summarize important points by paraphrasing.

10. Ask for help.

You might find yourself stuck on a problem or unable to understand the explanation in a textbook. Somebody who is able to walk through the issue with you might provide the fresh explanation you need. Approach your teacher or professor, teaching assistant, friend, or study group member for new ways to understand what you’re stuck on. Feel like you can benefit from being coached through a subject? Consider looking for a tutor.

And don’t forget the myriad online tools that might be at your disposal, like the Khan Academy. A quick search through Google or YouTube can also surface helpful articles or videos on subjects you’re trying to grasp.

11. Take care of yourself.

At the end of the day, your brain is an organ in your body—take care of it by taking care of yourself. Get regular exercise, eat well, don’t overdrink, get good sleep, and take care of your mental wellbeing.

  • Sleep: Studies have linked sleep deprivation to decreased cognitive function, including reduced attention spans and doing worse on tests [7]. Everybody’s sleep needs are different, but people typically need between seven and eight-and-a-half hours of sleep a night. Plus, getting more sleep can make you happier and benefit your social life.

  • Food: Try to incorporate more fruits, vegetables, plant sources of proteins, nuts, and unsaturated oils like olive oil into your diet, all of which have been linked to better cognitive performance [8].

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  • Exercise: Exercise brings oxygen to the part of your brain responsible for thought, encourages the development of new nerve cells, and boosts brain cell connections [8]. This makes for brains that are more neuroplastic and efficient—plus it brings a host of other health benefits, like lower blood pressure, reduced mental stress, and weight control.

  • Mental wellness: Mental health is important because it helps us deal with stress, improves our relationships with others, allows us to live more meaningfully, and be more productive in our work. Exercising, eating well, and getting good sleep can each boost our mental health. But there are other ways of fortifying mental strength, such as connecting with others, practicing gratitude, meditating, and developing a sense of meaning in life [9].

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Getting started

Forming good habits can be difficult, but starting with small, achievable steps can set you up to have consistent study habits for the rest of your life. Explore more personal development courses from leading universities and institutions on Coursera. Sign up for a free 7-day trial and start learning today.

Looking to get a degree? Knowing what’s out there is a good first step. Take a look at bachelor’s and master’s degrees on Coursera.

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What are the 10 good study habits? ›

Good study habits to develop
  • Find a good place to study.
  • Minimize distractions.
  • Take breaks.
  • Space out your studying.
  • Set study goals for each session.
  • Reward yourself.
  • Study with a group.
  • Take practice tests.
May 17, 2023

What are the 7 types of effective study habits? ›

Here are 7 effective study habits that are essential for students of all ages.
  • Establish a study area at home.
  • Communicate with the teacher.
  • Keep assignments organized.
  • Avoid procrastination.
  • Take notes in class.
  • Highlight key concepts in the reading materials.
  • Prepare your book-bag before going to bed.

What are the 5 successful study habits? ›

Try out some of our five favourite study habits and learn some life-long skills.
  • Make a schedule. Number one on any list of study habits has to be making a schedule. ...
  • Create your environment. This one is so important while we're on lockdown. ...
  • Study in bursts. Treat your brain like a muscle. ...
  • Find a study group.
Apr 6, 2020

What is successful study habits? ›

Very often the study habits and practices developed and used in high school do not work for students in college. Good study habits include many different skills: time management, self- discipline, concentration, memorization, organization, and effort. Desire to succeed is important, too.

What are the 8 habits of highly successful students? ›

8 Habits Synopsis
  • Habit 1: Be Proactive. I am a responsible person. ...
  • Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind. I plan ahead and set goals. ...
  • Habit 3: Put First Things First. ...
  • Habit 4: Think Win-Win. ...
  • Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood. ...
  • Habit 6: Synergize. ...
  • Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw. ...
  • Habit 8: Find Your Voice.

How can I focus 100% on studying? ›

7 tips for staying organised and focused while studying
  1. Make a plan. ...
  2. Create a relaxed study environment. ...
  3. Take regular breaks. ...
  4. Don't get distracted by social media. ...
  5. Drink plenty of water and eat well. ...
  6. Reward yourself. ...
  7. Don't do all-nighters, you will regret it!

What are 3 effects of good study habits? ›

Good study skills can increase your confidence, competence, and self-esteem. They can also reduce anxiety about tests and deadlines. By developing effective study skills, you may be able to cut down on the numbers of hours spend studying, leaving more time for other things in your life.

What is Habit 1 of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective College students? ›

Habit 1: Be Proactive® I am responsible for my education and life. Habit 2: Begin With the End in Mind® I have a plan for what I want to accomplish. Habit 3: Put First Things First® I do the most important things first.

What are learning habits? ›

Learning habits. can be described as methods and means of obtaining information. This is taking place at the conscious or. unconscious level. It helps students organize their efforts to solve problems, develop skills, acquire knowledge and.

What are the three major types of study skills? ›

Understanding refers to contextual clarity of the topic, decoding refers to finding out the main objective of the course and memorizing memorizing refers to retaining what you have learnt. These three skills will help you in better learning.

What are the seven types of ineffective study habits? ›

7 Dreadful Study Habits to Drop & 3 Good Ones to Keep when Studying a University Degree Course
  • Being the Last Minute Student. ...
  • Not Getting Enough Sleep. ...
  • Drinking Excessive Caffeine. ...
  • Studying While On Social Media. ...
  • Stressed Up When You Fail. ...
  • Skipping Classes. ...
  • Studying With the Wrong Group of People.

Does music help you study? ›

It can increase focus

The researchers found evidence to suggest that music can engage your brain in such a way that it trains it to pay better attention to events and make predictions about what might happen.

What are the 100 good habits? ›

100 Healthy Habits You Have To Try!
  • Yes drink water. ...
  • Get regular sexual health check ups. ...
  • Always use protection! ...
  • Get a smear test regularly. ...
  • Eat lots of greens daily.
  • Air out your room once a day or a couple times a week, whenever you have the time.
  • Vacuum your room to remove dust and dead skin cells etc.
Aug 10, 2020

What are 4 most important habits? ›

Though they vary from person to person, Gretchen Rubin, in her latest book Better Than Before, identifies the four big ones: ample sleep, getting enough physical activity, eating and drinking right, and uncluttering.

What is study habits in school? ›

Study habit is an action such as reading,taking notes, holding study groups which the students perform regularly and habitually in order to accomplish the task of learning. Study habits can be described as effective or ineffective depending upon whether or not they serve the students well.

What are students preferred learning styles? ›

Your Preferred Learning Style. A learning style is a way of learning. YOUR preferred learning style is the way in which YOU learn best. Three learning styles that are often identified in students are the Auditory Learning Style, the Visual Learning Style, and the Tactile/Kinesthetic Learning Style.

Is it OK to study on bed? ›

Similarly, lying on the bed and studying may sound tempting, but experts warn that the position is very bad both for the eyes as well for the neck. One tends to feel sleepy, loses concentration and even the eyes are often under tremendous load because of little distance from the reading material.

How can I study 10x faster? ›

Here are ten ways, backed by science, to speed up the learning process.
  1. Say out loud what you want to remember.
  2. Take notes by hand, not on a computer.
  3. Chunk your study sessions.
  4. Test yourself. A lot.
  5. Change the way you practice.
  6. Exercise regularly.
  7. Get more sleep.
  8. Learn several subjects in succession.
Dec 13, 2018

What is the best time to study? ›

Best time to study according to science

According to science, there are two windows of time the brain is most receptive to new material: 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, and 4:00 pm to 10:00 pm.

How can I study smart? ›

Studying 101: Study Smarter Not Harder
  1. Reading is not studying. Simply reading and re-reading texts or notes is not actively engaging in the material. ...
  2. Understand the Study Cycle. ...
  3. Spacing out is good. ...
  4. It's good to be intense. ...
  5. Silence isn't golden. ...
  6. Problems are your friend. ...
  7. Reconsider multitasking. ...
  8. Switch up your setting.

What is the 20 rule for studying? ›

Simply put, 20% or less of the studying you are doing is leading to the majority of your results. Furthermore, 20% or less of your course content comprises the majority of the content on your exams. Remember, professors (whether they know it or not) are applying the 80-20 rule to their exams.

What are 123 study techniques? ›

The most common use of 3-2-1 I've seen is in response to a reading or lesson–usually 3 things you learned, 2 things that made you curious or confused, and 1 most important thing you learned or should do with what you've learned.

What are the best study hacks? ›

Exam study hacks
  • Find a study space. ...
  • Short study sessions. ...
  • Put music on. ...
  • Explain the subject to someone. ...
  • Deeply question your subject. ...
  • Create concept or mind maps. ...
  • Beat procrastination in just five minutes. ...
  • Practice mindfulness or meditation.
Sep 6, 2022

What to avoid while studying? ›

Here are 12 ineffective study habits and how you can overcome them to succeed academically:
  • Studying without a plan. ...
  • Procrastinating. ...
  • Managing time inefficiently. ...
  • Having access to your phone. ...
  • Multitasking. ...
  • Cramming the night before an exam. ...
  • Studying for memorization. ...
  • Using a disorganized approach.
Feb 27, 2023

Which position is best for studying? ›

A standing desk allows us to remain in a standing position, hopefully the height of the standing desk can work well with your hands being actually relatively low, closer to your tummy height, so, you aren't having to use your shoulders and your chest the whole time to keep your arms up to be able to type all day,” he ...


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