Study Methods

Study MethodsI’ve received many requests to do a tutorial on study methods. So, in this article I’ll go over the core methods used by successful students. If you follow this study plan you’ll increase your comprehension with less effort.

I’ll also go over exactly how I’m able to create these long tutorials in just 2 hours a day.

Here is the overall break down of this study method article:

The Basics of Studying

Most people study by reading their notes over and over, normally the night before a big test. This brute force method doesn’t work and instead just tires your brain. All the techniques I’ll cover hear just require you to create more order in your life and note taking. If you do that you’ll score higher grades with less time and stress.

Most successful students have good time management skills. They break down their study and fun time into small organized bits. They understand that we have become multitaskers by nature. To maximize their ability to retain information they focus on studying for 50 minutes at a time with breaks in between.

These are the most important concepts:

  • Never miss a class (Tests are based off of what the professor thinks is important and not the text book)
  • You will minimize your time studying by getting your questions answered in class
  • Ask the professor questions until you completely understand their solution
  • Focus on internalizing information over time rather than through all nighters
  • Use Cliff Note books to avoid reading entire novels
  • You’ll learn easier by breaking study time down to 50 minute intervals with 10 minute fun breaks in between
  • Try to do most of your studying early in the day
  • Schedule your classes later in the day

How to Manage your Time

Here are some great ways to manage your time so you can maximize your ability to study:

  • Keep a calendar of your to-dos and stick to it
  • Include everything on your calendar (Even fun activities and grocery shopping)
  • Make accurate assessments on how long each activity will take in your calendar
  • Don’t allow yourself to break your schedule
  • If you do break your schedule note why you did it
  • If procrastination caused a bad grade, look at the reasons you broke your schedule
  • Get your friends to keep accurate schedules and force each other to stick to them
  • Fill your day with fun and not so fun subjects you need to study
  • Don’t spend whole days studying your least favorite subjects

Here is a Sample Calendar

(8 – 9) Review flash cards for French class during breakfast
(9 – 10) Run errands (Groceries, Return Books, etc.)
(10 – 11) Calculus Class
(11 – 12) Review Calculus notes & homework
(12 – 12:30) Lunch with friends
(1 – 2) Review psychology notes
(2 – 2:30) Have fun
(3 – 4) History Class
(4 – 5) Review History Notes
(5 – 6) Review Physics flash cards over dinner
(6 – 7) Have fun
(7 – 8) Review Programming Class
Rest of the night have fun

Remember to take a break after each 50 minute study session. This break should stimulate another part of your brain like:

  • Exercise
  • Scanning the internet
  • Listening to music
  • Chatting with a friend
  • Solve a problem from another class

Just make sure you keep the break to no more than 10 minutes!

The Best Environment for Studying

Part of your environment is what you put in your body. A healthy diet will dramatically improve your ability to think. Make sure you do the following:

  • Drink a lot of water
  • If you drink coffee, start of with straight and then switch to decaf
  • Avoid food with High-fructose corn syrup, fat and large amounts of sugar / caffeine

To maximize your study time, study alone in a place with no outside sound or distractions. Look for places that nobody goes. Avoid areas where any conversations are going on or music is playing (search for complete silence)

The worst places to study include:

  • Your bed
  • Your dorm room
  • Areas where large numbers of people meet

As I mentioned before, it is best to study early in the day as well.

How to Take Notes

Organized note taking is extremely important. Use a laptop if possible and if not organize all of your notes in a composition book instead of on stray pieces of paper.

There are two different types of classes and each requires a different form of note taking. You have your technical and non-technical classes.

Taking Notes in Non-Technical Classes

In non-technical classes you want to focus on the big concepts instead of copying down everything the professor says. Your notes should focus on the following:

  • The main questions proposed
  • The answer or conclusion to the question
  • All the evidence that leads to the final conclusion

The ultimate question and answer are normally made clear by the professor. Make sure to ask the professor to list exactly all the evidence that got him to the answer if it is not clear.

If you gather all of this information in class in an orderly manor (use an outline) you probably can skip most of the required reading. To best internalize the information:

  • Skim through the required reading while noting the question, evidence and answers
  • Use Cliff Notes, wikipedia, online articles, etc. if possible
  • Turn these notes into an orderly outline


I.What type of restaurant has the best possibility of success?
a.Pizza has a very high margin (Price > Cost to Produce)
b. Pizza is easy to make
c. Pizza doesn’t require a large investment in machinery

Conclusion: Selling pizza increases a restaurants chance of success

After you gather your outlines, you want to ask the professor or TA for any specific dates, facts, etc. that you will need to memorize.

Taking Notes in Technical Classes

In science based classes you want to focus on how problems are solved and what tools are used to solve them. When you are copying down the solution take special care to document exactly how the problem is solved. If you miss any part of the solution make sure you ask the professor to explain what you missed.

You must completely understand how to solve every problem in science classes. If you don’t get it:

  • Work on these issues in groups
  • Focus on what makes a specific problem hard to solve (What core principle do you not get)
  • Take these core issues to TA’s and have them explain them
  • Have the TA explain what specific formula solves the problem and why it is used
  • Have the TA make notes on why they are solving the problem the way that they are
  • Break down problem solving into a series of steps that you can internalize
  • Take sample exams to TA’s and have them work through concepts you are struggling with

Now that you have the steps outlined, do the following to completely understand them:

  • Memorize formulas by using flash cards or by recording your own voice
  • Spread memorization over time
  • Have problems set aside that you can work on during 10 minute breaks

Special Note: Utilize supplement books that focus on explaining complicated subjects in simplistic ways. I don’t think I could have made it through 8 calculus classes without Calculus Made Easy.

Now force yourself to not only solve the problem, but also to explain why you solved the problem the way that you did (Become the Professor). After you can do this the test will be a breeze.

Studying the Day Before the Test

Since you have taken the time to prepare this will be very easy for you. The day before the test review each problem and then explain to yourself how it is solved. Solve the problem by writing it out, explaining it out loud and through pictures in your head.

Make sure you are aware of the format of the test. Is it an essay, multiple choice, etc. (Ask the professor for specifics)

The main focus of your review then should follow these rules:

  • Review the questions you wrote down in class and then write down, from memory, the evidence that leads to the final solution.
  • Speak these answers out loud while visualizing them.
  • If you feel yourself getting distracted, walk around while thinking through these solutions.
  • As you completely understand each concept check them off. Then go back and review those concepts you are having trouble internalizing.
  • For science classes create a problem for each core tool you need to use. Solve these problems until the steps are internalized and you can explain them step by step.
  • If you can’t explain step by step how to solve a problem, you must focus on it until you do.

How to Take the Test

It’s test day and you are ready to ace this thing. When you get the test scan through all the questions. This will prepare your brain for what lies ahead. This will relax you and allow your unconscious mind to work through the problems ahead of time. As your scanning, if you see any easy questions, go ahead and answer them first.

To manage your time, take the amount of time provided to finish the test, subtract 10 minutes and divide by the number of questions. After your time is up move on to the next question and then use the 10 minutes to go back and sharpen up your skipped questions.

Final Note: Before you write an essay answer quickly create a bulleted list of all the evidence that leads to the final answer. This will keep your answers short and to the point.

How I Study

I receive emails asking how I create these articles. I pretty much use the above techniques (minus the professors). The only difference is that I know how to speed read. I actually developed the ability by accident because I used to scan almost everything I read.

Speed reading is not some weird voodoo skill. It is just developing the ability to quickly grasp the main concepts on each page of text. The easiest way to do this is to force yourself to stop subvocalizing what you are reading. Subvocalizing is when a person speaks the words they are reading either out loud or in their head.

Now that you have eliminated subvocalizing:

  • Read by moving your finger at a consistent speed over the words
  • Slowly increase the speed
  • Increase your ability to skip over descriptive words, conjunctions, etc.
  • Focus on the core concepts
  • Start moving your finger over entire paragraphs instead of sentences

After you have nailed these skills, you will be able to move your finger vertically down the page and capture all the core subjects as well.

That’s All Folks

I hope this strategy for studying is useful to you. If you have any other tips that work for you personally please include them in the comment section below.

Till Next Time

Think Tank

11 Responses to “Study Methods”

  1. samrakshini says:

    this article is awesome,i could get89%through this

    • admin says:

      I’m glad you liked it. I had to develop this routine because I had a job out of state while I was attending college for electrical engineering. These study methods still help me to be very productive today.

    • komape thabo says:

      i do as written on the article and after i revise them in my mind then i write them down on a piece of paper

  2. ameen says:

    thank for your valuable information

    now I know how you can answer most of the comments you receive

    but what did you study did you go to college?

    and where did you get all of your programming skills?

    thank you again

    • Derek Banas says:

      You are very welcome 🙂 i went to college for electrical engineering and then I went back to study Illustration so that I would be more well rounded.

      I have been programming since I was 10, so it has a lot to do with how my brain works on a deep level.

      I have been studying how I’m able to constantly keep my brain active lately. I think at least for me personally it has a lot to do with the board games, brain games and complex fantasy books I read. I like to draw as well. Anytime I feel myself getting bored with projects if I do any of the previous activities I’m normally ready to go again.

      I hope that helps

      • amin says:

        dear sir. i sudy electrical engineering(msc) … actually … graduated. i always had problem with planning … you know … making time for every thing … college … language … games and lots of boring stuff. even when i manage to do all of them … after a short time i … i… well i get tired and i have to let it go.
        so … i’m stuck. can you help me?

        • Derek Banas says:

          I found that the best rule is to always stick to a schedule. If you are supposed to stop one activity at a certain time stop no matter what. Then move on to what you have planned next. After doing this for a while you’ll be better at judging how long certain tasks take and your scheduling will improve.

          The whole point of living is to enjoy life. We just have to take a few hours a day for work to make life more enjoyable in the long run. Of course if you enjoy your work you’ll be able to have fun all of the time 🙂

  3. Ayoub says:

    hi ,

    please is there a method for work and stress management , BTW good article 🙂

    • Derek Banas says:


      I have spent a lot of time fixing businesses. The number one tool I use is a personality test. I have it here for free.

      I have found that most of the time people are stressed because they are not able to perform their job either because of conflicting personalities from a superior or from coworkers. It is amazing how quickly a business can be turned around when you fix personality problems.

      I hope it helps 🙂

  4. Cool says:


    Many thanks for this info. very interesting.

    It will be good if you could expand on ‘force yourself to stop subvocalizing’ which is not easy at all.


    • Derek Banas says:


      Here are some ways to help
      1. Move your finger across the words quicker then you can say them
      2. Use your inner voice to count slowly while you read the words and try to grasp the ideas
      3. Some people find that chewing gum, listening to music, etc. while reading helps them stop subvocalizing

      It takes a lot of practice. Try to do it for an hour a day for a month and you’ll start getting results

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