Scavenger hunt: What’s your study style?
By going back to school online, you don’t have to wait for fall semester — you can start anytime. The ability to decide your own pace, command your schedule, and log in to your classes anytime and anywhere gives you an advantage, but it’s important to have a study plan in place to set yourself up for scholarly success. How you go about accomplishing this necessary part of being a student makes a big difference in a lot of areas, such as time management, material retention, and confidence.
When you discover and tap into your ideal study style, you’re able to be more efficient and effective with the time you dedicate to studying. Knowing your individual study preferences means you can build study habits that support your needs and drive you toward achieving your goals, which makes it easier to start and stay committed to going back to school.
We’ve created a scavenger hunt to assist you in figuring out your ideal study style. Grab your scavenger hunt scorecard — you can download and fill it out on your computer or print and fill it out using a pen or pencil — and follow the directions below. When you finish, you’ll have a complete profile detailing your study style!
The hunt starts…now!
Discover your ideal study style
Productivity throughout the day:
When needed, you can get work done anytime of day or night. But everyone has times where they naturally feel more energized and driven — it’s the old “early bird vs. night owl” thing.
- Over a period of a few days, pay attention to how much energy you have at different times. When do ideas for new plans and projects race through your mind? When do tasks feel tedious and exhausting? When does motivation to get through that to-do list strike?
- Take what you find and rate the nine times of day on your scorecard from 1–9 (1=most productive, 9=least productive).
Weekly work schedule:
As a working adult, your job is something that’ll always impact when and where you can study. The solution? Plan around your work hours in advance.
- Write down your week’s work schedule on your scorecard.
- Compare each day of this section to the productivity throughout the day section and find the times you’re off work with the highest productivity ratings.
- Book these periods in your calendar (and on your scorecard) for study sessions! If your work schedule changes from week to week, write in pencil so that you can alter this section as needed and plan your time accordingly.
Study session length and frequency:
Studying is most effective when you’re laser-focused on the task at hand. By determining how long you’re able to stay focused on one thing, you can figure out the optimal duration of your study sessions and how many you’ll need in order to complete your coursework.
- Pick a task that you complete at least once every week. If you’re already in school, your homework is the best option. If you’re not yet in school, this could be something like meal planning or balancing your budget.
- Over the next few days or weeks, try working on these tasks in the increments laid out on the scorecard.
- Take note of what you’re able to get done (questions answered, recipes found, expenses listed, and so on) during each increment, and make a tally every time you get distracted.
- Which period is the most productive with the least distractions? Circle this option. This is your ideal study session length. If you do better studying in short bursts, you’ll need to plan a greater amount of brief study sessions during your day. If you work best when you can work for extended periods, plan for fewer, but longer, study sessions.
For many people, sound plays one of the most crucial roles in developing a productive study atmosphere. The wrong sounds can be the greatest distraction, but the right sounds can be a powerful tool for encouraging focus.
- Grab something to read and find somewhere you can work in complete silence, or as close to silence as possible — whether that means noise-cancelling headphones or just a room with the door closed.
- Set a timer for one minute and begin reading, remembering what page, paragraph, and word you started on. It’s important that you’re reading not for speed, but for retention.
- When the timer goes off, think about what you’ve just read. If you’re not able to recall the majority of it, scrap that run-through and try again. Otherwise, count how many words you were able to read in a minute. You can give it a few run-throughs and calculate the average to ensure accuracy if you’d prefer.
- You’ll repeat this process three more times, experimenting with different sound environments. Next, turn on some sort of white noise. This can be an app on your phone, a playlist on Spotify, a fan, or whatever you’d like. Then, attempt the test while listening to music without words. Finally, try reading while playing music with words.
- As you finish each trial, record your findings on your scorecard.
- When you have results for all four trials, circle the one with the highest number of words read and remembered. This is your ideal sound environment while studying! Now that you know this, regardless of where you are, you can create an atmosphere that helps you focus.
Location isn’t always in your control, and sometimes you must study wherever you can. But whether you find yourself at home, in the break room at work, on the bus, in the library, or elsewhere, there are elements you can manage to increase productivity.
- On your scorecard, we’ve listed some of the top studying distractions. Think about each of these and your own ability to focus. If needed, try reading a news article while the distraction is present.
- If the distraction isn’t a problem for you and doesn’t affect your focus, cross it from the list. If it does lessen your productivity, brainstorm methods for avoiding or minimizing these distractions, and use the line next to the distraction to write down your game plan. For example: If your cell phone is a distraction, you could decide to turn it off or place it in airplane mode during your study sessions.
With your ideal study style profile all filled out, you’re even more prepared to make now your time to return to school. And while you’re at it, check out some of the tips and tricks on our blog to get the most out of your study sessions — like how to become an active reader (aka, read and actually retain the information!).
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