10 Tips on How to Study and Retain Information

October 13, 2023
5 min read

Are you wondering how to study and retain information? You’re not alone—it certainly isn’t easy. But with the right approach, you can master it. 

Female student sitting on bed studying with notebook and computer

When it comes to learning, we all want to make the most of our efforts. Whether you're preparing for exams, expanding your knowledge, or simply looking to enhance your memory, the right strategies can make a significant difference. 

In this guide, we've compiled ten actionable tips to help you study effectively and retain information better. These techniques are backed by research and the experiences of successful learners, and they can be applied to various fields and situations. 

These insights will help you to maximize your learning potential and boost your memory retention. Let’s get into them.

Top 10 Tips on How to Study and Retain Information

The best way to study and retain information effectively is by relying on proven learning techniques. Keep reading to learn all about them. 

Create a Study Schedule

To study effectively and remember what you learn, you need a structured plan. First, set clear academic goals and figure out how much time you realistically have for studying each day. Then, decide which subjects or topics are most important or challenging, especially if a major exam is coming up.

Depending on your goals, you can choose between a weekly or monthly study plan. A weekly plan is great for short-term goals and busy schedules because it lets you allocate specific hours to different subjects on different days. On the other hand, a monthly plan is useful for long-term goals and comprehensive exam preparation, as it breaks down tasks into manageable parts.

No matter which you choose, consistency is key. Stick to your plan to help you manage your study time, but also be flexible to handle unexpected events, like catching a cold or having to take your dog to the vet. You never know what’s going to need your time - so make sure to add some wiggle room into your study schedule. 

Keep an eye on your progress and adjust your plan as needed. A well-structured study schedule will significantly boost your ability to learn and remember information effectively.

Agenda with sticky notes

Set Clear Goals

Setting specific objectives before each study session is a powerful strategy to enhance your learning process. This practice helps you stay focused, motivated, and efficient in your studies. 

Before tackling your materials, take a few moments to identify what you want to accomplish during the session.

For example, let's say you're preparing for a history exam, and the topic for the day is the American Civil War. Before starting your study session, outline your objectives. You might aim to:

  • Read and summarize two chapters from your history textbook.
  • Create a mind map or outline of key events and figures related to the Civil War.
  • Solve practice questions or quizzes on the Civil War to test your understanding.
  • Write a brief essay or response to a specific Civil War-related question.

By setting clear goals, you know exactly what you need to achieve, which helps you allocate your time efficiently. As you complete each objective, you gain a sense of accomplishment, making your study sessions more rewarding. 

Active Learning

There are a number of benefits to active learning. It means taking a proactive approach by transforming passive reading or listening into an engaging process. Start each study session with clear goals in mind. 

Define what you want to achieve during that time, whether it's understanding a concept, summarizing a chapter, or solving a set of problems. For example, if you're studying math, your goal might be to understand the underlying principles of calculus. Breaking it into smaller tasks, like mastering derivatives and integrals one by one, keeps you focused and productive.

Having specific objectives provides a sense of accomplishment as you check them off, boosting motivation. Structuring your study time this way helps you cover more material efficiently and enhances retention because you're actively interacting with the content. 

Visual Aids

Visual aids make complex topics easier to understand. By creating flowcharts, diagrams, or flashcards, you can visualize the relationships between different concepts, making it easier to grasp challenging information. Color coding can also be a valuable tool for organizing and categorizing information effectively.

For instance, you might use flowcharts to illustrate intricate processes, flashcards to memorize vocabulary, and colors to distinguish between various categories of data. These visual tools not only help you learn but also make studying more interesting.

Female student drawing diagram on whiteboard

Regular Practice

Practice is essential, especially for subjects like math, science, and languages. Repeatedly working on problems, conducting experiments, or practicing language skills is like building a strong foundation.

It's not a one-time thing; you need to revisit what you've learned regularly. This helps you remember and understand the material better. Think of it like building a sturdy house—each time you practice, you add another layer of knowledge until you have a solid understanding.

Take Breaks

Taking well-timed breaks during your study sessions, ranging from five to 60 minutes, can significantly boost your energy, productivity, and focus. 

Research shows that these breaks help prevent mental fatigue, improve concentration, and enhance overall learning. So, incorporating purposeful breaks into your study routine is essential for effective studying.

Teach Others

Teaching others deepens your understanding. When you explain complex ideas to a friend or family member, you simplify and clarify the subject. This process makes you break down concepts, give examples, and answer questions, revealing any gaps in your knowledge.

Teaching engages you actively with the material and strengthens your grasp of the topic. It's like becoming an expert in the room, and this role of explaining fosters a deeper understanding beyond memorization. So, share your knowledge with others—it benefits both them and you.

Group of student studying together

Stay Organized

Effective organization is key to successful studying. Whether you prefer physical folders or digital note-taking apps like Evernote, OneNote, or Notion, keeping your study materials well-organized saves time and enhances productivity.

Physical folders can also help you categorize notes and handouts by providing a tangible way to structure your resources. Digital apps offer flexibility and efficient searching, with cloud-based accessibility across devices.

Just make sure to maintain consistency. Make it a point to regularly update and organize your notes, textbooks, and resources. This will help to reduce stress and improve your focus during study sessions. 

Healthy Lifestyle

Taking care of your physical and mental health is vital for effective learning and memory. In fact, research has shown that healthy living has a real impact on our cognitive abilities.

Getting a good night's sleep, ideally between seven to nine hours, helps your brain consolidate memories and retain information better. Eating a balanced diet with brain-boosting nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants supports cognitive function.

Regular physical exercise improves blood flow to the brain, enhancing memory and thinking skills. Managing stress through relaxation techniques like meditation and deep breathing reduces anxiety and improves your concentration and ability to learn.

Two teen girls going for a jog

Use Technology Wisely

Using technology smartly can make your learning more effective. Educational apps, online courses, and digital tools like flashcards can be helpful for studying. But remember to be careful about distractions.

Research has shown that students who use electronic devices during class tend to perform significantly worse in exams compared to those who don't. Even the mere presence of cell phones on a desk can reduce cognitive capacity, so it's essential to limit these distractions during study sessions as much as possible.

To maximize the benefits of technology while avoiding distractions, consider using website blockers like StayFocusd, Focus@Will, or Cold Turkey. These tools can help you stay focused and make the most of your study hours. It's all about finding the right balance between using technology for learning and avoiding distractions so that you can make the most out of it as an educational tool.

Understanding how to study smart is key. But, as you adopt these strategies, remember that effective study habits are highly personal. So, experiment and adapt them to fit your learning style and preferences. Take a look at the learning pyramid and understand that you have the power to climb it in your own way.

Also, make sure to take a close look at your progress on a regular basis. Try your best to make adjustments when you need to optimize your study routine for better information retention and academic success.


If you’re still wondering how to study and retain information, keep reading to learn more.  

1. How To Be Motivated To Study?

To stay motivated to study, set clear goals, create a comfortable study environment, reward yourself for progress, and remind yourself of your objectives and reasons for studying.

2. What Are the Ways to Study Fast?

To study quickly, focus on active recall, summarization, and spaced repetition. These methods, combined with a distraction-free environment and organized approach, maximize your learning in less time.

Final Thoughts

In the world of learning, these study techniques are your trusty allies. However, don’t take them all at once. To understand how to study and retain information, you need to take it one day at a time. Just like how Rome wasn’t built in a day, it’ll take time to master these strategies. So, just do your best! You got this. 

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