Study smarter, not harder.
1. Don’t buy textbooks from your college bookstore. Compare prices online and save a ton of money.
Half.com offers used, discounted textbooks of varying conditions from other students like you. Barnes and Noble and Amazon Prime have great rental programs with free shipping, easy returns if you drop the class, and flexible renting periods.
2. Get Chipotle delivered to your dorm, save time, study more.
Think burritos > pizza? Tapingo is a website and app that delivers food to college students, and they’ve recently added Chipotle delivery to 40 college campuses this fall. The site will expand to 100 more schools by spring 2016.
3. Use a proven studying algorithm called spaced repetition to learn material for the long term.
If you think you’re going to memorize that entire textbook in a week, you’ve got another thing coming. Use the concept of spaced repetition to learn things forever. It’s the idea of reviewing terms, definitions, or formulas regularly so you’ll remember them in the long term, not just for the next 24 hours. It’s pretty simple: If you understand the concept well, you’ll review it further in the future and if you don’t understand it, you’ll review it sooner.
There are a handful of browser add-ons and apps that can remind you to review material using special spaced repetition algorithms. You can create flashcards usingAnki (free, web), highlight ideas from any website with Hibou (free, Chrome extension), learn new languages with Readlang (free, Chrome extension and web). You can even find subject-specific apps like Firecracker for med and pre-med students or Brainscape (free, iOS), which offers a variety of pre-packaged subjects.
4. With Amazon Student, get Prime for six months free and, after that, 50% off for the rest of the time you’re a student.
5. Want to learn a concept in a jiffy? Google the subject matter + “filetype:ppt” to find free lecture slides online.
Just click to download the slides.
6. Forgot your textbook at home? Google the name of the textbook + “filetype:pdf” and you might find it online.
If that doesn’t work, type in the name of the subject + “filetype:pdf” because, chances are, other textbooks have explanations for what you’re looking for. Press command + F and type the name of the concept to quickly jump to the definition.
7. Desmos.com is a free online graphing calculator you can access from anywhere.
Create an account to save your graphs!
8. Listen to ambient noise or natural sounds for maximum productivity.
8tracks is a website where you can listen to ad-supported, human-crafted playlists for free, and they have tens of thousands of very chill mixes made just for studying. My favorite is this dreamy soundtrack.
For those who get easily distracted by music, Noizio (free, Mac desktop and iOS) is a simple app that lets you create a special blend of ambient sounds such as “blue whales,” “deep space,” and “October rain.”
9. Get answers to un-Googleable problems at/r/HomeworkHelp.
When you’re really in a bind, head to this Reddit thread for some anonymous tutoring.
10. Use the Pomodoro Technique to boost your productivity in a way that’s *actually* sustainable.
The Pomodoro Technique is a time-management method that helps get stuff doneand f*ck around. The idea is that you work on one task for 25 minutes (a “pomodoro”), then take a short five-minute break. After four “pomodoros,” you take one long 10-minute break. Tomato Timer is a simple online timer that will give you a customizable audio ping at the end of the interval.
If you want something a little bit more insightful, try Focus Booster ($3 per month, online, Mac, and Windows), which uses the same pomodoro technique and logs exactly where your day went.
11. Citethisforme.com can create a bibliography in less than a minute.
There’s also a Chrome extension that can generate citations of the webpage you’re on and automatically copy it to your clipboard.
12. Use Google Scholar to find published papers and get alerts on new papers in your area of study.
This is a very valuable resource for research paper writers. The search functionality is much easier to use than other databases (like JSTOR, ugh). To find exactly what you want, click on More > Advanced Search.
If you’re an early-career academic, Google Scholar can be crucial in helping establish your research, citations, and CV. Learn more here.
13. For tips on how to ace your specific class, look up your instructor on ratemyprofessors.com.
Check out the comments for suggestions on whether or not to buy the textbook, what material shows up on midterms and finals, and other professor-specific tips.
14. When you need to buckle down, block distracting websites and apps.
15. Or you can just get rid of your Facebook newsfeed with this Chrome extension.
16. Read Kindle books online at read.amazon.com. When you’re writing a paper, you can search for keywords in the book and easily find quotes to support the argument you’re trying to make.
It’ll only take a minute.
17. Get reward coupons for not using your phone in class.
Get paid to pay attention! Pocket Points (free) is an app that will offer discounts to local and national retailers if you keep your phone locked during class.
18. Read washingtonpost.com for free when you sign up with your .edu email address.
All of the best discounts just for students are compiled here.
19. Read Cal Newport’s Study Hacks Blog. It’s full of great tips that ultimately help students succeed without stress.
He’s a former Ph.D. candidate who believes in doing fewer things and doing them better!
And, when in doubt, just use gummy bears.