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6 Research-Backed Study Techniques


Study Wisely. Use Techniques that are Proven.

Being in academia is no easy task. Whether you’re a student or an educator, managing your time to study or plan classes can be difficult. Developing time management skills is an essential part of being a student (or a teacher). Knowing how best to use your time can make all of the difference. Being aware of what works can position you to use your time more efficiently. That's where these research based study tips for students come in.

If you want to get the maximum impact out of your study session, here are some top research-backed study techniques to optimize your time and retention.

1. Retrieval Practice

Retrieval practice is based on the idea that remembering a previous answer is more effective than searching for it each time. For example, seeing a word and being able to write the definition would be an example of retrieval practice, versus seeing a flashcard and flipping the card over to see the answer.

2. Mind Mapping

Mind mapping is a fantastic technique for visual learners. It works by visually arranging concepts in a digestible diagram that clearly shows how each point relates back to the main concept. Additionally, mind mapping can also help improve your reading comprehension.

3. Exercising Before Studying

There are several benefits of exercising before studying, including increasing your energy levels and releasing endorphins. Whether it’s a 20-minute walk or a heavy lifting session at the gym, any exercise that gets your heart pumping will help you focus when studying later on.

4. Leitner System

The Leitner system is a tiered system based on flashcard usage. The concept behind this starts with 5 boxes: Each flashcard begins in the first box, and for every correct time answering it moves up a box. Conversely, for every time you incorrectly answer, that flashcard is moved down a box. This helps give you a solid idea of what concepts you know and which ones you are less confident with. 

5. Studying Before Sleeping

We’ve all heard by now how important sleep is to maintain proper brain functionality—but did you know that when you are asleep, your mind is able to refine concepts and memories to improve retrieval when you are awake? Although pulling an all-nighter can seem like the only choice when you’ve left studying until the last minute, don’t underestimate the importance of getting a proper amount of sleep so you’re not left feeling anxious in the morning.

6. Feynman Technique

With the Feynman technique, you are essentially learning by acting as if you are explaining the concept to others. The logic behind this is that once you are able to explain a concept to another person, you have learned it deeply enough yourself. However, using the Feynman technique, you are not actually teaching another person, rather, you are explaining it in the way you would to someone who does not yet understand the topic. 


Regardless of the studying technique that you use, the most important step is to start studying in the first place. Properly setting the stage for your study session can hugely impact how effective you are. 

Top Study Tips 

  • Switch up your environment: Try switching out your regular coffee shop for a new place every once in a while. An occasional change in scenery can improve concentration, retention, and memory. 
  • Listen to background music: Although everyone’s music tastes are different, many people generally report focusing best when non-lyrical music is playing. Lo-fi beats and classical music are both popular options for people really looking to grind. 
  • Eliminate distractions: Put your phone on do not disturb and close out of your social media accounts for the time being. Parting from our notification addiction can be tough, but it is key to being able to work undistracted during your study session. 


Developing effective studying techniques is important regardless of your profession. Whether you’re a high school student, college professor, or a student studying to get their graduate degree in nursing, having effective learning habits is key to succeed and stay healthy in the long term. For a complete list of research-backed study methods, check out the infographic by USAHS below. 

Infographic originally published here: https://www.usa.edu/blog/study-techniques/. Shared with permission.


  1. I like the sound of the Feynman technique because you might actually reveal that you know more than you think and in a way become an expert. It’s a great way to develop your own understanding too when trying to explain complicated things to others.


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