15 Tested Study habits for College Students that ensure Success

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Our life is the consequence of the habits that we develop. Many students find it challenging to develop good study habits for college education resulting in poor grades and efficiency. A good study habit is easier to create than you think. 

If you want to triple your grades, make sure to read until the end of this article.

Popular Habits among low performing students

popular bad study habits for college

According to a study among the students of International College in Shanghai, the typical bad habits are :

  • Has no questions
  • Misses at least three class per semester
  • Not punctual
  • Don’t take notes
  • Crams before exam day

These are the habits that you must avoid if you want to uplift yourself.

Now let us take a look at the effective study habits for college students.

Creating a suitable environment

This habit is the first thing you need to do when you sit down to study. Good preparation helps you to stay motivated and stick to your table for longer hours. Make up your desk and see if everything required for the study is available at hand. 

Not having proper preparation leads to consistent gaps in your study sessions. These gaps cause loss of rhythm and attention. If required, make a checklist for all the things you need before studying.

Comprehend before cramming

Comprehending is a good study habit for college

Cramming without understanding is one of the most vicious habits that is certain to hurt your grades. Although cramming might be necessary for your education, make sure it is followed by comprehension.

Try to internalize a topic first. Summarize and explain the subject to yourself in your own words. If you can explain it to yourself, only then permit yourself to cram lessons. 

Do not cram without understanding. You can always use video lectures, Google, Google scholar for help.

Study at the same time

If you track your day, you will find that you feel the most productive in certain portions of your day. Most often, it is the morning or the evening, but it can be otherwise for you. Try to find out which time of the day is suitable for you. 

Always study at the same time. This habit is a good study habit for college students because it helps to prepare your mind. Besides, it also provides the extra push to prevent laziness because you become habituated to studying time.

Avoiding distractions

Some of the biggest enemies of a good study session are mobile phones, phone calls, and notification bells. It would be best if you avoid these distractions.

Keep your phone in another room or beyond your physical reach. This action will create friction which will prevent you from being distracted time and again. 

If you have family members disturbing you, convince them to spare this specific time for studying.

Think on paper

Thinking on paper is a good study habit for college

This is one of the good study habits for college that give life-changing results. We often try to resolve problems through logical thinking. It is best to think on paper and write everything that goes through your mind while solving a problem. 

You can even use this to find out meaningful relations between different topics of your lessons.Thinking on paper gives you more clarity. It also helps you find the errors effortlessly and keeps a document of your logical thinking.

Make notes in your own words.

Most students make notes for their studies. While some fail to summarize a note effectively, others fail to write it in their own words. Creating notes in bookish words is the sole reason why notes become ineffective.

Use your own words to create notes of various sorts. If required, make your diagrams, mnemonics, and mindmaps.   

Don't Multi-task

Multi tasking is a bad study habit for college

Multi-tasking is a myth. You can never really multi-task; the best you can do is shifting through your tasks at a much faster rate.

This repetitive shifting between different tasks is one of the causes of poor retention and less comprehension. Students should focus on one task at a time.

Multi-tasking between note-taking, watching lectures, highlighting, cramming will ultimately result in decreased retention. It will hamper your performance and also focus. Try to follow a typical sequence of study. For example:

Skimming lecture notes > Watching video lectures > Understanding > Making notes and summarization > Mind maps & Diagrams> Cramming > Active recall

Eat the frog first is the best study habit for college students.

Students usually keep the most complex task for the latter and complete the easy tasks first. This habit gives a feeling that you have done a lot of work, but very few of those tasks were necessary. 

You should develop the habit of eating the frog first, the ugliest one. Do the most challenging and most time-consuming task first. You are more likely to procrastinate on such tasks. If you manage to complete such tasks, other functions of the day will seem more manageable.

Start with the most complicated and most important topics and climb down to easier ones. This study habit will make your study sessions productive and effective. At the beginning of each study session, try to find out the frog and complete that first.

This effective study habit alone can make all your grades go through the roof.

Take scheduled breaks

One of the difficult tasks while studying is to know when to take a break. Breaks can be distracting. But without breaks, your effectiveness in study sessions will decline over time. 

Try to take breaks after each topic/chapter or as you see fit. But do not watch TV, scroll social media, or youtube during these breaks. Get some snacks or a boost of glucose to treat your brain.

If you are willing, you can even try the Pomodoro technique.

Fighting our stupid brain

Fight our stupid brain is a study habit for college

Have you ever wondered why every time you start studying, various irrelevant thought comes to your mind?  

For example, here are some of my recent thoughts:

  • Have to do the laundry today
  • When will Rick and Morty have a release date?
  • When is Real Madrid playing Barcelona?

The list goes on. I am sure you have similar thoughts in your brain which pop up the most irrelevant time. the more you try to ignore these thoughts, the more they grasp onto your head.

To combat this distraction, try to keep a notebook. Write all the questions and thoughts like these that pop up in your brain during study sessions. This way, you will not be ignoring your ideas and will be safekeeping them for later use. 

Your mind will be at ease, and you can get back to study.

Mix it up

If your primary way of studying is by making notes, don’t always stick to that. According to research by the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology, your retention ability will improve if you target information from various sources rather than through the same material. 

Learn from various sources such as 

  • Group study,
  •  Video lecture,
  •  Seminar, 
  • Notes, 
  • Mindmaps, 
  • Diagrams, 
  • Pictures and more. 

Mixing up learning material is one of the good habits of college that will help you in better retention and performance.

Use the 80/20 rule for studying.

The 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, can be applied to all aspects of life. It states that 20% of the input is responsible for 80% of the outcome.

In terms of studies, 20% of the topics can help to yield 80% of the marks. You have to find out this 20%. This principle will help you prepare well by targetting the 20% and being very good at specific topics.

Stop trying to be a perfectionist and do not waste time on the 80% unimportant materials. Try to focus on the most important ones.

Test yourself repeatedly and in intervals

One of the critical ways to remember information for the long term is “spaced repetition”. You might have heard about the forgetting curve; our brain tends to forget information after a certain time if it is not repeated. 

Through 2-3 spaced repetition, it is possible to convert information from working memory to permanent memory. Students who develop the habit of revising topics once in a while tend to get better grades.

Make a schedule. Try to revise everything that you have learned the previous week. After a month, try to recall again what you learned the last month. Through 2-3 repetitions, the lessons will stick to your brain permanently, just like you remember your own birthday. 

At least show-up

Consistency is what transforms average into excellence

Being consistent is one of the most significant differences between a good performing and a poor performing student. The idea is not to study more but to study every day. 

Consistency is key. Try not to break the chain and show up at your study desk every day. This is one of the most effective study habits for every college student out there. 

Even if you are having a rough day, try to sit on your desk and skim through your notes, diagrams, or mindmaps.

Good sleep creates good grades.

A good study habit that all students ignore. If you are consistent, you don’t need to study late nights before exams. Less sleep time results in decreased cognitive functions. The brain remains less alert over the day and far more likely to make errors. 

Students are very much likely to sacrifice their sleep for studying, but they should know its downsides and ineffectiveness. It would be best if you remained consistent so that there is no requirement of such bad practices.


Good habits direct our lives towards success and achievement. By Cultivating these habits, a student will certainly develop his grades and performance. In the long run, these good study habits will help his professional and personal life too.

Best of luck in developing these habits. Hope this helps



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1 thought on “15 Tested Study habits for College Students that ensure Success”

  1. Sleep is crucial for brain function, memory formation, and learning. whether it is reviewing flashcards or notes, can help improve recall. According to Scott Cairney, a researcher from the University of York in the United Kingdom, “When you are awake you learn new things, but when you are asleep you refine them, making it easier to retrieve them and apply them correctly when you need them most. This is important for how we learn but also for how we might help retain healthy brain functions.”

    When you’re asleep, the brain organizes your memories. Instead of pulling an all-nighter, study a few hours before bed and then review the information in the morning.

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