Growing up, I (mistakenly) believed that there were two approaches to studying: you either do it or you don’t. Every night, after getting home from school, I would plop down at the kitchen table, pull out my notes and my flashcards, and go to town. My best friend, however, did quite the opposite—every night, after getting home from school, she would plop her backpack on the kitchen table, run off to her room, and refuse to open her notebook again until the following day at school. I studied, she didn’t study; I got A’s, she got C’s. It was abundantly clear to me—you can study and get good grades or choose not to study and get bad ones. This made a lot of sense to a 10-year-old, but as I got older, I realized just how humorous my conclusion was. Because in college, and even high school, you don’t simply choose between studying and not studying—you choose how to study. And boy, are there a multitude of varying study techniques to choose from, some of which prove effective, and others that truly kill your GPA. Simply determining what doesn’t work is a huge step in the right direction, so take a look at these 5 study habits that aren’t doing you any favors:

1) Studying in front of the TV.

When I was in college, I made a horrible habit out of studying while watching TV—and time and time again, I saw how ineffective it was. While you might be able to jot down a few notes and memorize a theory here and there, TV serves as a major distraction that makes it next to impossible to absorb any given material. You’re better off allocating separate time for studying and for watching TV—that way you can focus on both (one at a time) without being distracted by the other.

2) Picking the wrong study buddy.

I may have made the rookie mistake of watching TV during study time, but I was always weary of studying with my friends—why? Because I knew nothing would get accomplished. My friends and I couldn’t resist cracking jokes, laughing at one another, or talking (about everything but school) when we were together, so I knew that studying with them was a bad idea. Now, this doesn’t mean studying with friends is always a bad idea—if you can get down to business when you’re together then it might be super effective. The key, here, is to pick a study buddy that will enhance your study abilities, not hinder them.

3) Keeping your phone nearby.

Social media—is there such a thing as a more tempting distraction? Believe it or not, I would scroll through my social media feeds whilst “studying” and watching TV. I kept my phone by my side, and it was just too tempting not to grab it every so often, which furthered my procrastination. While this is a rather harmful habit, there is fortunately a clear fix: limit your access to it. Turn it off. Put it away. Leave it at home. Do whatever it takes to stay off of that time-sucking device that is hindering your study abilities and ultimately your GPA.

4) Studying amidst disorder.

I actually never had this problem in school, but I witnessed many friends’ study sessions and grades suffer simply because their workspaces were an utter mess. The bottom-line is, you can’t get much done if your notes are crumbled at the bottom of your bag, your textbook is nowhere to be found, and your desk is buried in clutter. Solving this issue is going to take a little more effort, as you must commit to being an organized student from here on out—otherwise, the next time a test rolls around, you’ll be just as disorganized and unprepared to study.

5) Pulling all-nighters.

The word “all-nighter” makes me shudder. I certainly bought into my fair share of poor study habits, but pulling an all-nighter was one I refused to touch. This approach is entirely ineffective, as knowledge retention requires adequate time and energy—two things you certainly don’t get in one sleepless night. Additionally, this sleepless night will leave you feeling sluggish and worn-out for your test the following morning. So, instead of relying on one lone night to retain months’ worth of information, you should begin studying well in advance—if you take this approach, you’ll only have to spend small blocks of time studying, which won’t wear you out.

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