Woman at desk with books in front of her

Creating a more productive study session

March 27, 2022
Author: Megan Zolorycki

Exams are around the corner. As a student, I’m hunkered down attempting to fill my brain with the necessary information to pass exams and finish assignments. But sometimes I find it impossible to make my study sessions productive.

The distractions are endless. My phone is always buzzing and the next to-do on my Google calendar is popping up, all while I try to learn 10 more accounting formulas. But I’m here now, dedicated to creating a more productive study session. A session that leaves me feeling capable of finishing the semester, but also not completely drained after.

Here are some tips to do just that:

Do something for yourself BEFORE you start studying

Before spending most of the day cramming for an exam, I recommend doing something for yourself that has nothing to do with studying. Go to the gym, take a yoga class or have coffee with a loved one. Anything to get some feel-good endorphins flooding through your body. Movement, especially, is shown to strengthen memory, improve concentration and increase energy levels.

Set up your work environment

Studying at home, the library or a coffee shop? Doesn’t matter. Set up your work environment for success. Have headphones handy, a clean, clutter-free workspace, and probably a beverage and snack nearby just in case. Forbes magazine explains that workers (and students) “need to feel comfortable and calm in their physical work settings to produce their best work.” 

Time your study sessions and work in chunks

“Your ability to focus may be limited to four to five hours a day,” cites The Washington Post. That doesn’t mean you should study for five hours straight. Try breaking your study sessions into 55-minute chunks. After the time is up, take a break (go for a walk outside or just lay on your bed, whatever feels right to you). The tricky part is to not let this break last the rest of the day (I am guilty of this). It might be a good idea to time a half hour break and then get back in the zone.

Keep your phone at a distance

The average human attention span is eight seconds. That is less than the attention span of a goldfish. If you’ve made it this far in the tips, good job! Sadly, this makes studying feel like such a chore. If you’re able to, keep your phone in the other room or throw it on the “do not disturb” setting during your sessions.

Become aware of your study style

What works best for you? Studying with your peers or solo? Depending on your program, some students really thrive off cue cards and memorization, while others do better with applying concepts to real-world situations. Whatever it is, do some trial and error and really nail down what clicks with you.

At the end of the day…it will be okay

Lastly, I find it helpful to remember that at the end of the day… it will all be okay. It’s a statistics test, not the end of the world. Study hard, but also rest hard. You’ve got this!


Megan Zolorycki has lived on Vancouver Island for more than 10 years. She is a second-year Bachelor of Arts student at VIU, majoring in creative writing and minoring in human resource management. Her long-term goal is to enter the journalism field. 

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