Studying can be a trying experience.
So here’s the challenge – how can you make studying not only tolerable, but actively fun?
Here are our top tips for finding ways to have fun while studying – whatever the subject may be.
1. Listen to good music
This is a classic study tip for a reason – everything is more fun when it’s set to music you love. Some people have the gift of being able to concentrate even while listening to songs with tricky and compelling lyrics; some can even write an essay while singing along. Before you just go for your favourite songs, it’s probably worth considering whether you are one of those people.
But if you can make this tip work, it does help a great deal. For most people, music without lyrics is a better option.
2. Turn it into a game for yourself
We’ve written about how to gamify your studies before, but it’s worth repeating because, done well, it really can help. The study aids of puzzles, quizzes and flashcards all tap into the fact that we often learn better with games, and are more motivated too. Have you ever spent time trying to get full marks on Sporcle when the work you’re supposed to be doing languishes unattended? Then you’ll know how breaking something down into an achievable and measurable goal makes it much more fun.
3. Turn it into a game with others
Studying with friends is a bit of a minefield. It can be motivating and helpful, as you share ideas that you might not have thought of individually. Or you can end up having so much fun that not much studying actually happens.
Just make sure that the dare doesn’t seem to be the easier option than trying to get the answer right. You could set study-themed dares; for instance, in English literature, if you can’t come up with a quote to support a particular point for the truth, you have to write two paragraphs themed around that point for the dare.
4. Use nice stationery
Are you a stationery person? Cover your notes in stickers if it means you’re more likely to reread them. After all, if it’s not to be used when you have important studying to do, why bother hoarding lovely stationery in the first place?
5. Try roleplay
For any subject with stories and characters – Theatre Studies, English Literature and History are the obvious examples – one way to get your head around the topics is to pretend that you are one of the characters, and roleplay as them for a while. What would Henry VIII choose for lunch? How would Marianne from Sense and Sensibility choose to have your room arranged?
6. Challenge yourself
When you’re studying, as with when you’re at the gym, it’s sensible to pace yourself. Don’t demoralise yourself by taking on more than you can handle; instead, go slow and steady, with regular breaks, so that you can cope for the long haul.
Except that’s really boring, isn’t it?
It’s a bad idea to challenge yourself to ridiculous things at the gym, because you can cause yourself long-term injury. But you’re not going to break your brain because you tried to do something that was a bit too tricky. I
7. Write comics, short stories or songs
There are endless songs written that could have been designed to help you study. Think about Tom Lehrer’s Elements song or Flanders and Swann’s First and Second Law. Putting something into rhyme or setting it to music helps a great deal in remembering it, not only through the end product but also through the process of composing your poem or song in the first place.
8. Intersperse studying with other activities
Assess what suits you, and don’t do something a particular way just because it seems to work for your friends.
9. Feel free to be ridiculous
There are very few perks to the high-pressure time of studying for exams. One of them should be that you have the freedom to be ridiculous.