3 Study Habits to Break in the New Year


Claire Qiu, Journalist

The beginning of a new year is the perfect time for self-reflection and fresh starts. With the old decade in the past, many people are vowing to finally start anew and tackle their goals, which often includes breaking some bad habits and adopting better ones. With finals looming up during this busy time of year, many students are bound to be doubling down on the study and homework time. With that, here are three inefficient study habits to break this year that will serve well for the next few years of study to come.

Set a timer. There is a misguided conception that studying for several hours at a time means better results. This is often not true. Instead of sitting through hours of grueling study time, reading dense textbooks, and taking pages of notes, limit study time to thirty-to-forty minute intervals. Take time in between intervals to drink water, eat something, get up and walk around, or get a small change of scenery. Once the break is over and the next study interval begins, it will be easier to remember old concepts and grasp new ones.

Turn off the music. Many students listen to music while studying, citing that it helps them focus better. This has actually been proven to be false. A study done by the Cambridge Brain Sciences Team shows that compared to silence, music “has no effect for some … and often significantly [impedes] brain performance.” This is because the same mental processes that are required to remember things also process music. This means that the brainpower that could be used to remember, say, the new theorem you learned in math class, are being reallocated to process music. Next time, instead of turning on the music when it’s time to study, consider opting for the best background study sound – silence.

Review more than you think you should. Too often, new concepts are learned quickly and forgotten just as easily if they aren’t reviewed. Class time is for learning new things. When studying at home, take more time to review what was taught in class, and worry less about learning as much as possible. The more you review, the more you will remember. By the time test day or finals week comes around, you’ll be less stressed about studying because of all the information you’ve retained.

Whether studying for the ever-stressful finals, a routine test, or the SAT or ACT, these tips will come in handy. Happy studying!