Six study mistakes that everyone makes

Reading Time: 3 minutes

From the early days of kindergarten and the rigors of recess and naptime, we have all been learning how to study. Yet in that time, only a select few of us have grasped the fine art of sitting down for a good study.

There are rules to studying—pretty straightforward rules I’d say—but we all routinely break them when seduced by their beguiling advances.

Here are just a handful of mistakes we’ve all made at one point or another:

Studying in front of the TV

You think you’re immune to distraction. You say to yourself, “Of course I can multitask! I’ll just have sound going in the background. This will be fun!” And then three sitcoms later you wonder why you’ve only solved two equations.

Solution: Seclude yourself in a quiet place, have a clean snack and plenty of fluids handy, and get to work. If you must listen to music, make sure its instrumental. My recommendations: anything by The Glitch Mob, Ratatat, or local artist Lindsey Stirling.

Underestimating the material

Why on earth would you start studying now? Study on your way to class if you like. You’ve got two whole days to figure out “Organic Chemistry”, whatever that tripe is. It’s like, chemistry for vegans, right? Nailed it.

Solution: Never take an assignment at face value! Assume every assignment is going to take you a couple hours at the least, and plan accordingly.

Disregarding the directions

“No need to worry, instructions, I see exactly where you’re going with this! Two pages, double-spaced. Topic is…something. Whatever. I’m going to be a politician when I grow up.”

Solution: Don’t do anything until you have thoroughly read through all handouts, rubrics and instructions. There’s no sense in seeing that a recipe calls for eggs, and assuming you can wing it from there, so why would you try this with your homework?

Wikipedia rabbit holes

You’re doing some preliminary research on that fountain of all approximate knowledge, Wikipedia. Suddenly one of those beautiful blue hyperlinks catches your eye and you click it, start to read about something else entirely. This vicious cycle repeats itself until you forget what you were there for to begin with. I know from personal experience that from the page for “French Revolution,” you are only 14 clicks away from the “X-men” page.

Solution: Practice some self- control. Set a rule for yourself that you cannot hop to other subjects unless they pertain to your project. If you, like me, are the super-curious type, and you absolutely must read up on these other subjects, keep a list of the interesting topics you want to look at later, and put them on the backburner while you study.

“Man, this place is filthy!” Syndrome

You never clean your apartment if you can help it. The cleanest your place ever gets is for a brief moment on the day of cleaning checks. Yet for some reason, those three chapters of Moby Dick you have to read must wait, because how can you be expected to think straight knowing there’s a mess in your kitchen? You might as well scrub the bathroom while you’re at it. And the living room. Gosh, don’t your roommates understand that this filth isn’t conducive to a learning environment?

Solution: Try to get out of the house when you study. Take your stuff to the library or some other quiet public place, and forget about the tasks waiting for you at home.


Your brain needs time to soak in the material. It’s never a good idea to leave your studying or assignments to the last minute. Your work ends up sloppy, and you’ll be lucky to even finish on time.

Solution: Cramming alone is never a good idea. A popular study method is to study consistently every day leading up to the test, and if desired, cram as well. This way, the information gets stored in both your long term and short-term memory. •

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