Hacks for Studying to Ensure Scholarship Students Reach Their Full Potential

Each year, approximately 28% of students receive a scholarship or grant to help cover the cost of their studies (1). During the 2021 to 2022 academic year, the average scholarship handed out was $6,593 per student. This sum typically covers 25% of a student’s college costs, according to Sallie Mae’s ‘How America Pays for College’ 2021 study.

When you’re one of the students who are lucky enough to secure such a substantial amount of cash towards your education, it’s essential that you do your utmost to reach your full potential. Thankfully, these study habits will ensure that you maximize both your study time and your learning potential.


Block Out Distractions

92% of university students confess to having used their phone during class, even though 80% of students say that doing so affects their attention (2). But there are apps you can download to dissuade you from picking up your phone so much. Moment tracks your usage and alerts you when you go over your target, whereas Flipd lets you lock your phone for a set period of time. Once it’s locked, it’s irreversible, so it’s a great way to stay motivated (3). A similar app is Offtime which can be tailored to suit you and, best of all, it can block addictive sites and games, such as Facebook, Twitter, Candy Crush Saga and other social media.

Once you’ve blocked out distractions on your phone, it’s time to do the same on your laptop. Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Netflix are some of the most distracting websites (4). Sites such as these aren’t going to do you any favors when it comes to studying for your next exam. Thankfully, apps, such as Cold Turkey and SelfControl allow you to block anything on the net. You should, therefore, utilize one of these apps both in and out of class.


Use Color

You most likely write or type in one particular font color due to personal preference. But research suggests that you should carefully consider the color you write in, as well as the color of the room you study in to better retain important points. A 2002 study found that when pattern recognition tests were presented in color, the study participants’ results were between five and 10% better than those who had completed the same test in black and white [Any more recent study to cite? ](5).

Certain colors are also linked to better concentration, enhanced mood, and all-around increased productivity. Therefore, using these colors when you’ve secured your scholarship could make all the difference to your overall exam results.

The color green will keep your mind on track as it’s great at boosting your concentration levels. One study revealed that when students looked at a green roof in their break they made fewer errors and had better concentration than the students who viewed a concrete roof (6).

Blue is a tranquil color that promotes productivity. A study conducted by the University of Texas revealed that when a blue-green room is used to revise in, productivity was better than when a red or white room was used.

Orange is another color to consider utilizing. A bright and bold color, it is renowned for being a mood-enhancer. When used wisely, it increases the brain’s oxygen supply and will push you to plow through your studies. However, it should be used with caution as bold shades of orange can over stimulate the mind.

With color being so strongly linked to learning performance, it’s wise to incorporate different colors into all aspects of your learning. You can add these colors to your notes by writing in colored pens, using colored post-it notes, highlighting key sentences and paragraphs with highlighter pens, and by adding diagrams and prompts to your notes in these mind-enhancing colors.


Study While Listening to Classical Music

You’ve probably previously been told that listening to music while you’re studying is distracting and will harm your study methods. However, research suggests that listening to classical music can actually benefit you. When you play music, your dopamine levels increase. Dopamine is a feel-good hormone, and so listening to a good tune while studying can make you feel happier.

As a result, you’re more likely to retain the information you’re reading when preparing for an upcoming exam. A 2014 study even found that when instrumental music was played in the background of a lecture, the students retained more of the information on a particular subject than the students who attended a lecture without it (7).


Revise Before Bed

Studying, sleep, and memory are closely linked. And while you may think it’s best to spread your study time over the course of the day, or to get it out of the way first thing in the morning, science says you’ll retain more information when you hit the books before bed. Research from Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that participants who studied before going to sleep had better face and name recognition the following morning, compared to the participants who studied in the morning (10).

This study is backed by research which tested the recall ability of students at Harvard University. The group who went to sleep after learning related and unrelated word pairs were able to recite the unrelated word pairs effortlessly the following day (11). As such, even if you’ve done the majority of your studying at other times of the day, it’s worth spending a few minutes before bed each night going over your revision notes or reading over flashcards, as this will jog your memory and will encourage this information to be absorbed. Also, it is critical to get enough sleep each night so the human brain has a lot of time to create mind maps on the course material you studied. Getting a good night’s sleep before exam time is a powerful tip.


Exercise is Crucial

All adolescents should partake in at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day, according to the CDC (14). But the time when you choose to exercise is critical in helping you retain crucial information from your studies. Multiple studies support the theory that exercising after a study period provides the most benefit. Research even demonstrates how simple, non-strenuous exercises such as leg presses and using a hand grip can help boost your performance in academic tests (15).

Working out while studying is also advantageous in boosting your learning and recall abilities. In a study where female participants rode a bike and learned new words either before or during the ride, the women who lightly exercised while learning performed better when recalling the new words the next day (16). These findings suggest that it’s worth investing in a stationary bike to use while studying. You can then use this at the same time as reading through your notes or when playing back recorded notes to yourself. This is good news for a university student who like to maximize their time management.


Study Alone

Every educational institution has a communal study spot, which students are encouraged to utilize for best results. However, when you study in public places, you’re sure to come across multiple distractions. As a result, you’ll spend more time revising. This can hinder your learning as experts suggest short study periods are more effective than chunky ones.

Furthermore, when you study in isolation, you’re in control of your environment. If you want to play classical music in the background or participate in some light exercise simultaneously, you can. Another reason to study alone is that you haven’t got to waste valuable study time arranging a study group at a time and place which suits others. And you won’t have to spend time going through a topic with your peers on which you’re already confident.


Read Your Notes Out Loud

Reading your study notes out loud instead of processing them internally is the best way to remember them, according to the University of Waterloo (17). For years, students have been encouraged to read through their notes multiple times to ensure they sink in. Yet this piece of research demonstrates that they’ll enter your long-term memory when you simply use your voice box.

What’s even more impressive is that reading aloud can reduce your study time, as the participants involved in the study learned between five and 15% faster than they otherwise would have. Meanwhile, your chances of remembering information are 50% higher when you read it out loud. Of course, you won’t want to disturb or annoy other students when you’re using this method, so it’s best to lock yourself in your college dorm when you’re doing it.


Use Scents to Boost Your Memory

New information suggests your smell is your body’s strongest sense. The University of Maryland Medical Center states that “The smell receptors in your nose communicate with parts of your brain that serve as storehouses for emotions and memories.” (18) Therefore, you should utilize your sense of smell when you’re studying.

For the 80% of students who say that they sometimes or frequently feel stressed (19), scents, such as jasmine, lavender, and clary sage should be used. Students in need of some energy and enthusiasm should use rosemary, lemon, and orange as all three are known to invigorate the mind and body.

What’s more, when you study in a room surrounded by a recognizable smell, you’re more likely to remember facts when you smell the same scent again. So, if you’re prepping for a big exam, consider spraying lemon oil in the room while you’re revising and using it again just before you head into the exam. This may be one of most unusual study tips, but can be one of the most effective study hacks in order to perform your best work.


Feed Your Brain

Studying takes up a lot of brain power, so it’s important you keep your brain in top working condition by giving it all the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients it needs from good quality food. It goes without saying that you should avoid the fast food that students adore and opt for as much fresh fruit, vegetables, and whole grains as possible. In addition, you should ensure you’re selecting food which is known to nurture the brain. These foods include:

  • Fatty fish, as the omega 3 within in aids learning and memory.
  • Pumpkin seeds, as they contain antioxidants which fight off cell disease.
  • Dark chocolate, as it contains antioxidants and flavonoids that are known to boost memory.
  • Nuts, as research has demonstrated how they benefit cognitive performance when consumed regularly.
  • Eggs, as they are packed full of nutrients that contribute to the health of your brain.

When you secure a scholarship to an American school, university, or college of your choice, you’re sure to want to demonstrate your full potential. A busy student needs to give much attention to study techniques to reduce the amount of time need to retain important information which can make big difference in the long run. By following these hacks for studying, you’ll be well on the way to success, as they will ensure that you take in every vital piece of information you need and more. Good luck!


Related Articles:

14 Helpful Tips For How to Write A Scholarship Essay (And Win!)



Sallie Mae

Harvard University

Marketing & Growth Hacking

Cold Turkey

Association for Talent Development

Research Gate

Sphinx Music

University of Michigan

Wed MD




Science Daily


Scientific American

New York Times


Life Hacker

The American Institute of Stress

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