Choosing and Setting Up Your Study Space

College Degree Finder

Choosing the right study space, and
setting it up properly, can mean the
difference between acing an upcoming test
or feeling unprepared and under
performing. Below are some tips on how to
do it best.

To help your mind prepare, when choosing a
study space pick something that is
permanent and that you will use every time
you study. Do not choose a space that
gives your brain false cues. For example,
while your bed might be comfortable, it
sends signals that it is time to sleep.
Similarly, picking the cafeteria on your
campus or your own kitchen table might
cause you to think more about food than
the work at hand.

Some students prefer to study in their
rooms, but be sure to approach this setup
carefully. You will not be able to control
what your roommate does while you are
studying. Being in your room could also
cause other distractions like cleaning,
laundry, or making phone calls.

When picking a space, try to isolate
yourself as much as possible. Let your
friends know that you need a few hours of
quiet time. Turn off the ringer on your
phone-hide it altogether if you think
you’ll be tempted to look at it. The same
goes for your computer-while it can be a
useful study tool, unless you are doing
research or readings, try to keep it off
or available only when necessary. There
are many study
traps
that seem to appear just when
you’re wanting to buckle down for a good
review session. Understanding some of
those study
distractions
and removing them
before you study is the best thing you can
do.

The accessories or “feel” of the place you
study can be as necessary as the location.
A positive relationship has been
demonstrated between art/color and
productivity. While you may not be able to
paint your space, choosing a location that
has artwork, or pinning your own to a
bulletin board, can be helpful. Warm
colors like red and orange encourage focus
and energy-something you’ll definitely
need during those long hours of studying!

While research shows that students study
best in complete silence, some need a
certain amount of ambient noise to help
with concentration.
If you find that some noise is helpful to
you, consider choosing a study location in
which you can hear people, but not where
they will be too loud. The sensory
overload in a place like the student union
can ruin your focus. If you prefer to
study away from others but still want some
noise, choose music without words. Certain
kinds of music, particularly baroque
classical music, are shown to help the
brain learn and retain information.
Turning the television on a low volume can
be helpful for some, but is likely to end
up a distraction.

The best study space will also:

  • Not be too hot or too cold
  • Be naturally lit (fluorescent
    lighting can cause strain on your
    eyes)
  • Have bright lights (dim lights
    signal the body to relax and prepare
    for rest)
  • Have a good chair that isn’t too
    comfortable.

Once your space is chosen, it is essential
to arm yourself with all of the tools you
will need. If you are studying in your
room, keep a caddy on your desk that
contains:

  • Pens, pencils, and highlighters
  • Calculator
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Eraser
  • Notebooks or notepads
  • Post-it notes
  • Index cards
  • Dictionary

You’ll also want to have any textbooks or
other class materials at hand. Ensure that
you have everything you need (even a
bottle of water and a snack) before you
begin studying. This will ensure that you
do not need to stop to locate any item.

If you are not studying in your room, keep
a “study bag” handy with all of these
materials in it. That will make it easy
for you to grab the bag and go to your
study location without having to run
around and find everything you need, or go
all the way back to your room because you
forgot something.

Wherever you choose to study, keep your
space organized and clutter free. Make
sure that the desk you are using has an
ample amount of space for all of your
study materials. If possible, access to a
white board or bulletin board can be
useful for keeping all of your thoughts in
one place, diagramming problems, or
writing down ideas.


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