Sure, it might be easy to improve your study sessions by pairing up with a good-looking study partner, but that might not be the best method if you’re trying to learn. Here are a few ways to improve your study sessions so they’re useful without being completely miserable.

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Make a Plan

The first step is to get organized. Start by writing down everything that you need to do in this session or in the next couple of days. Make a list or an outline and try to come up with how long each item will take. Don’t spend more than 5 or 10 minutes making this; some people take an hour to make these lists, as another way of procrastinating.

Get Moderately Comfortable

Sure, it’s good to find a comfortable place to study if you’re going to be at it for hours, but if you’re too comfortable, you might get drowsy or distracted. Find a place that is comfortable enough to sit for a while, but not so cozy that you’re curling up and taking a nap.

If you don’t believe me, take a look at the comfortable chairs and couches in the library around exam time. You will always find at least one person passed out mid-study.


It is never recommended that you listen to pop music or lyrical music while you study. Those words and tunes can take up some valuable space in your gray matter, and when you try to retrieve your studied information, all you’ll get is notes and lyrics. Instead, listen to calm, mostly wordless music like Album Leaf or classical Beethoven, Mozart, and Tchaikovsky. This will stimulate the brain, and block out other noises without distracting you from the task at hand.

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Flashcards with Friends

If you have to cover flashcard items, it can be much better to go through them with a friend rather than on your own. Whether you’re learning vocabulary, dates and people, or obscure theories, a friend can be useful in finding ways to help you remember the materials. It’s one of the more social ways of studying, as long as you stay on task.

Discuss and Debate

If you know there will be a few essay topics on the next exam, and your teacher has given you potential prompts, you should make a list of points and opinions for each one, then discuss and debate the prompts with a partner. You will each get the opportunity to see someone else’s point of view and perhaps find holes in each other’s theories.

You might have completely forgotten something mentioned back in Chapter 14, while your partner happens to have that chapter memorized.

Give Yourself Goals & Rewards

Since you should be breaking up your study sessions anyway, try to separate each section or multiple sections into specific goals. In the next 45 minutes you will finish the reading for Physiology, or you will complete your math assignments, or you will get through X number of flashcards.

Add a reward to the goal: Get a coffee after the first four 45-minute breaks or reward yourself with a glance at your cell phone, a 5-minute break outside, or something equally desirable.

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