What Are Your Ideal Study Conditions?

Each student has a different set of conditions under which he performs his best. Each of us needs to be a scientist, making and testing hypotheses about our ideal study conditions. Spend a number of weeks experimenting and finding out the answers to the questions below. Remember what works the best for you is not necessarily what feels the best or most comfortable. The ultimate goal is finding what makes you most effective.


  • What room in your apartment is best for homework and studying?

Do you have a dedicated area where you can go when you need to do work? Are there some types of assignments that you can do in a more public place, like the living room, while some require more seclusion? If you live in a "zoo," consider the library.


  • What position is best?

Sitting at a desk? In a comfortable chair? Lying on the floor? Do you have access to everything you need? Do you benefit from getting up and moving around periodically? Does it vary based on the type of assignment?


  • What kinds of noise are distracting?

Music? Parents talking? Siblings playing? All of the above? Are there places in the apartment/house where you can get away and have comparative silence? Again, if a Yankee-Red Sox game seems like a quiet retreat, consider finding a place outside your home.


  • What time of day are you most effective?

Are you a "day" person or a "night" person? Are there certain times of day when, no matter how hard you try, you can't absorb information? You don't want to wait until you're 30 to find out that you get more accomplished from 6:00-8:00am than during the entire rest of the day.


  • How often do you need to takes breaks?

Can you realistically concentrate for 5 hours without interruption? Would five 1-hour blocks serve you better? Three 100-minute blocks? How long a break does it take to refuel your battery? What can you do to reward yourself during your break (if you've earned it)?


  • How do amount of sleep and level of hunger affect you?

How many hours of sleep do you need to be at your best? Would a half hour nap at some point make a difference in your ability to apply yourself? Are you able to work effectively after having a full meal? What about when you've had two candy bars and a can of soda? Do you need a (healthy) snack for energy before starting your homework?


  • Do you work well under pressure?

If you know that you don't, you'd better not save things until the last minute. As soon as you know the assignment or test date, schedule the tasks you are going to accomplish each day (or week) to ensure that you have plenty of time to complete your work.


  • Do you learn well in a group?

Would a study partner enhance or detract from your productivity? Perhaps certain subjects yes, some no. Certainly, who you choose as a study partner is vital; try to find a classmate who is equally committed to academic success.

Let the answers to these questions guide where, when, and how you approach your work. Of course, you will never be able to work under your ideal conditions 100% of the time. Moreover, the answers to these questions will likely vary depending on the type and complexity of the assignment (memorization, research, reading, writing, problem solving, etc.) as well as your level of interest. Discovering your brain's likes and dislikes at least gives you the opportunity to structure your schedule and set up your physical study environment to enhance your chance of success.


Tags: Academic Coaching, Homework, Student Survival, Study Skills, Tweens
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