ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) are becoming more and more common in the modern age. Students complain about struggling to pay attention, which affects their studying.
But don’t you worry!
We’ve decided to compile a list of 100 tips on how students with ADD can develop proper study skills. This article can give you an idea of how to handle this condition properly and provide you with helpful ADHD strategies. Keep on reading if you want to know how to manage your time and schedule, take notes, and remember material efficiently. This article will also tell you about study strategies for ADHD students, study techniques, and skills you may find useful. You’ll get a number of study tips that actually work.
Scheduling & time management
- Watch the time.
You can use whatever you want: a desk clock, wall clock or wristwatch. When starting a task, say the time out loud, or make a note of it (write it down, for instance). This will help you to stay on track.
- Set the limits.
To discipline yourself even more, use a timer. You can set an individual alarm for each task or set multiple timers to go off after a certain time has passed. It will be easier to tell how much time you spend.
- Allow extra time.
Start a habit of giving yourself an extra 10 minutes for every half an hour you think you’ll spend on completing a task. You’ll have a more flexible schedule in case you’ve estimated the time poorly.
- Set your plans earlier.
It’s the same thing as with the previous tip. If you need to be somewhere at a certain time, make an appointment for 10–15 minutes earlier. You can also make a reminder to know exactly when to leave.
- Use a planner.
This should go without saying, but this is a vital tip. You can write down all your plans and appointments using any device you want, or even go old-school and use a separate notebook or organizer.
What’s the main purpose?
To keep everything in order and not forget a thing. This is one of the most vital ADHD strategies.
- Choose the right time.
All people are different and it’s impossible to say what time is the best for everyone to study. You need to choose the part of the day when you’re the most active to study. This will maximize its efficiency.
- Don’t cram your schedule.
While some feel more motivated having a busy schedule, assigning too many tasks for the day often just adds unnecessary pressure. If you feel stressed out, free up your schedule a bit.
- Set your priorities.
When you have many tasks to do during the day, it’s important to keep this thought in your head. Tell yourself that there’s work to do instead of just dozing off and procrastinating. You’ll only lose time, without getting things done.
- Have something to waste.
In this case, it’s time. Leave a place in your schedule just to let off some steam and do nothing. After that, you’ll be back free of stress and refilled with energy.
- Have a consistent sleep schedule.
Studying can alter your sleep schedule greatly. So, you have to make sure you go to bed at the same time each night and get enough sleep. If done right, it will have a positive effect on your productivity.
- Your mood matters.
When making a schedule, make sure that you’re in a good mood and thinking positively. If you’re forcing yourself to make a schedule, the chances are that you’ll have a hard time following it, too. Developing proper study techniques is important, but they also don’t have to make things harder for you.
- Have multiple schedules.
Making schedules requires patience. And if there’s something wrong and you fail to follow the plan, it can lead to discouragement and abandoning the whole idea of scheduling. This is why it’s important to make schedules for various terms. We’ll talk about them below.
- Have a long-term schedule.
This one includes only regular and fixed tasks. It won’t change much with time and acts as a base for building shorter term schedules.
- Have a weekly schedule.
This schedule will include all the important events waiting for you during the week. It can also contain the amount of work you need to do. Changing each week, this schedule is the best to build on weekends.
- Have a daily schedule.
This one will contain the specific tasks to be completed throughout the day. After something is done, you can cross it out.
Here’s the main idea:
Daily scheduling not only keeps you organized, but also prevents you from giving up the idea of making schedules in the first place.
- Double the time.
While everyone’s schedule is unique, there’s a guideline that works for most students. Plan 2 hours of studying for each hour of classes. This includes all the study-related tasks.
- Make a habit.
Try studying at the same time each day. After some time, this will become a habit, which will make your studying more systematic and active. It will also be easier to follow the schedule.
- Include weekends in your schedule.
No, nobody tells you to study on weekends. What you can do, though, is to schedule an hour to review all the material you’ve learned during the week.
- Trade the time.
No one can predict the future, and an unscheduled event will happen occasionally. Instead of giving up the time that you planned to spend on a task, just trade it with a later time, so that you can still complete the task. It won’t be a problem if you save up time as mentioned in the 9th tip.
- Set the milestones.
Decide what steps you’ll need to complete a certain task. Milestones will help you to estimate your time better and focus on smaller, more manageable chunks of work instead of one huge task.
- See the deadline…
Write down the deadline for a certain task. Put it somewhere so you can always see it. This will act as a reminder not to waste your time and stay focused.
- …not only for yourself.
Let’s say you need help. But you also know that you can’t waste any time, because a long wait for a reply can make you lose focus. To avoid that, ask the people who help you to come up with a reply by a certain time or day.
- Make a commitment.
When you set the time for your studying, stay committed to it. Remind yourself that if you finish your tasks on time, you’ll be free to do whatever else you want. Don’t try to find compromises. Otherwise, you’ll just end up spending even more time.
- Don’t delay.
Start each task as soon as possible – preferably as soon as you get it. There are enough things you can do “to prepare yourself”. And by doing them, you end up spending more time on a task. So, no “sharpening pencils” – just get to work.
- Know exactly what you’ll do.
When starting a task, go through all the steps you’ll complete in your head. Stick to that plan.
Even if there’s a distraction, you’ll be able to deal with it and resume your work quickly because you know exactly what to do next.
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Note-taking & remembering material
- Do a bedtime review.
If you need to remember important material, do a quick review of it for 10–15 minutes before going to sleep. Sure, you’ll still need to study it beforehand, but reviewing what you’ve just learned will help to memorize it easier.
- Review more.
Apart from having bedtime review sessions, you can also check back on your notes right after the class. It will help you to remember the important information with ease.
- Be ready to take notes.
Always have a notebook by your side, or any device where you can keep notes. You never know when a great thought or idea will hit you, so it’s better to be prepared.
- Copy the notes.
There’s a trick to memorize your notes easier. Just write them down again. It will act as good revision for newly learned material.
- Make association chains.
If you’re struggling to remember certain information, keep drawings in your notes that you can associate with a concept you’re trying to memorize.
- Use acronyms.
In order to remember a list, use the first letters of all the items and put them together. You can play around with the order of the items for the resulting word to make more sense. Or make up a sentence using words that begin with the same letter as the items you’re trying to remember.
- Talk to yourself.
When studying alone, you can repeat some of the key thoughts aloud after reading them. This will help you to memorize the material easier.
- Interpret it.
You don’t have to note everything that’s been said word for word. If it’s possible, write the main ideas down in your own words so it’s easier for you to understand. Proper note-taking and remembering are among the most important study skills for ADD students. So, it’s better not to neglect them.
- Take notes more often.
If you don’t feel like taking enough notes, there’s a little trick you can use.
Divide your page into several sections (let’s say, 5). And try to fill those sections after a certain period of time (you’re free to decide how often).
- Edit your notes right away.
Don’t wait until you get back home. Highlight and mark the key thoughts and ideas, before it’s too late and you’ve forgotten about it. It will be easier to use such notes later.
- Make indicators.
You need to be able to quickly tell which part of your notes is important (e.g., use a highlighter), which part is confusing and caused you to have questions (e.g., mark it with a question mark), and which part you need to add more information to (e.g., mark it with an asterisk). Come up with a code system to easily point out such parts.
- Use alternatives.
In order to get the most information from the lecture, ask for a printed summary. With it, you’ll be sure that you didn’t miss anything.
- Try exchanging notes.
This will not only give you extra snippets of information, but it will also give you some hints on what you can improve in your own note-taking. It’s even better if you exchange them with other college students with ADD. In this case, they’ll benefit from it too.
- Make it diverse.
In order to memorize the material better and concentrate more, avoid studying similar subjects one after another. It will only bring confusion and prevent you from remembering properly.
- Sticky notes.
Make use of sticky notes when reading and trying to remember the important information. Write the key points down on a note, so it’s easier to revise everything later.
- Organize space in your notebook properly.
It’s better to use a larger notebook, but at the same time, it has to be as comfortable as possible for you. Use only a part of the page and leave free space so that you can keep keywords, comments or ideas there.
- Separate the thoughts.
Leave blank spaces between the key points. It will be easier to spot the end of one thought and the beginning of the other. Also, you’ll be able to add extra information if necessary.
- See the points.
Most of the lectures consist of a few main points and a couple of additional ones. Everything else is mostly explanatory material. You need to spot those points.
The deal is simple:
You’ll see the main points if you listen carefully instead of trying to write down every word.
- Keep your notes understandable.
It’s necessary to make note-taking as effective as possible. But at the same time, you don’t want to cross the line where you won’t understand what’s written in your notebook. Watch the neatness of your notes, and make sure to use the same abbreviations and signs to avoid confusion.
- Copy the board.
In contrast to tip 43, it’s better to copy everything that’s written on the board. It usually contains essential information and clues that you can use when preparing for exams.
- Understand what you’re trying to learn.
Understanding is the key to proper learning. Don’t try to just mindlessly memorize the information. Instead, spend a few minutes to comprehend it. You’ll see that it’s easier to remember it that way.
- See the difference.
This one is opposite to the previous tip. Along with understanding, you have to spot the parts you need to memorize verbatim and indicate them. They can be dates, rules, definitions or even passages of texts.
- Decide what to learn first.
When you know you have to remember a lot of material, start with the material you need to keep in your mind the longest.
- Review as soon as possible.
In order for it to be a review of written material, not a relearning, you need to do it within the first 24 hours. The sooner you’ll do it, the clearer understanding of the material you’ll have.
- Explain your notes.
For a better understanding of the main ideas and contents of your notes, you can list the main keywords. To make sure that you’ve done it right and know what you’re talking about, try describing the main point to someone without actually referring to your notes.
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Study tips for ADD students
- Divide your study time into parts.
Studying for a couple of hours straight is hard, even for students without ADD. That’s why it’s vital to have breaks every so often.
How do you do this the right way?
To prevent procrastination, set an alarm reminding you to go back to work.
- List the tasks.
Digesting well-organized information more easily is in our nature. So, put all your tasks and assignments on a list. It will help you to manage them efficiently and to have everything in order.
- Get rid of distracting thoughts.
Having random thoughts popping into our heads is a sort of defensive mechanism when dealing with boring tasks. If you’re struggling to focus on studying, write down everything that distracts you on a piece of paper, then put it away until you finish studying.
- Test yourself.
Even if you think you’ve memorized the new material, testing your knowledge isn’t a bad idea. It usually turns out that you need a little more time to actually remember the information.
- Make it graphic.
Draw mind maps in order to put the ideas on paper and show the relations between them. This tip will be especially useful if you struggle with listing out thoughts.
- Break down assignments.
As with dividing up your total studying time, you can also divide up huge tasks into smaller pieces. They won’t seem that hard and will be easier to manage. As a result, you’ll get a more stable workflow.
- Reward yourself.
You can set up a system with rewards and achievements for finishing certain tasks. It will serve as a motivation boost that will help you to keep going.
- Don’t overestimate.
This doesn’t mean that you need to have lower expectations of your performance. But they at least need to be closer to reality. Putting more pressure on yourself with a huge amount of challenging tasks is very likely to end up with lots of stress.
- Decrease the level of distraction.
Some say that listening to music while studying makes the process more pleasant; however, it can distract you quite a lot. In order for music to interfere less with your studying, listen to instrumental or orchestral music, or any other music without lyrics.
- Involve active reading.
This is one of the study techniques that help you to comprehend the material easier.
Skim the text before reading it in full to see what’s coming up. Make questions based on chapter titles and answer them while reading. Notice the main points in the text, review them and take notes.
- Think about studying with a partner.
Some people get more distracted by others during the studying process, while others feel that working together with someone makes it more exciting and helps to stay focused. Decide which option works for you to improve the process.
- Change the location.
If you feel less productive at home, try other places that have fewer distractions. It can be an empty classroom, library or any other place that will help you to stay on track.
- Ask for help.
It sure is good to be able to study productively on your own. But if something is unclear or confusing, it’s fine to ask your teacher or tutor for help. Don’t be afraid to ask. Organize a meeting where you’ll get all the answers to your questions. This is one of the obvious ADHD study tips. Still, many students ignore it.
- Use color-coding.
You can apply it to almost anything. Color-code your notes, files, texts, schedules, etc. This will involve visual memory.
Want to know what’s even better?
Color-coding will help improve your overall performance, as you’ll be able to keep track of things more efficiently.
- Face the challenges.
This one helps deal with ADHD in college. While it’s great to aim for the stars, you also need to be aware that accidents happen. So, give your inner perfectionist a break. Even if something doesn’t work, you can always try again later.
- Involve multitasking.
If it keeps you going, you can easily do two things at once. It can prevent you from getting bored and losing productivity.
- Make soft transitions.
After finishing one task, don’t start doing another one right away. Take a short break to be able to gather all your thoughts and set goals for the next task.
- Stay away from work… for some time, at least.
It sure is great to have a part-time job and have some extra money. But studying still needs to be your number one priority. The lack of focus won’t get you anywhere.
- Make the most of available resources.
Learning centers, libraries, and tutoring services are there to help you out if you’re experiencing difficulties. So, don’t ever hesitate to use this help.
- Don’t leave it for later.
If you know you need help and there’s nothing you can do on your own, ask for it right away. Deal with problems when they appear.
You know why?
If you set them aside until the end of the semester, it will require much more effort to make things better.
- Stay in touch with your parents.
There’s no support as good as the support you get from your parents. A short chat with them can easily lower the level of stress and prevent you from breaking down.
- Prepare your computer.
Apart from installing the software you need for keeping notes and saving files, get rid of all the junk and create the necessary folders. And most importantly, remove all the distracting bookmarks from your browser. You know you’re going to use the Internet a lot, so make sure that nothing is in the way.
- Make your smartphone unreachable.
If your smartphone keeps distracting you and you spend hours on random apps, make it hard to reach. Plug it in and leave it somewhere in the distance, so you have to put in effort to get to it.
- Keep it simple.
As crazy as it may sound, don’t try to make everything complicated if things are going “too well”. It only means that you’re doing everything right.
Exercise boosts your brain activity. Next time you decide to take a break between studying subjects, take a walk instead of just sitting around.
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Study skills & ADD strategies
- Know yourself.
You need to know what you’re good and bad at. This will help you to take the right path and do things that bring you enjoyment instead of stress and frustration.
- Start earlier.
If you’re just about to start your studying and there’s an opportunity to take summer classes, take it. It will give you a taste of what studying is really like and make the transition easier.
- Begin with the hardest…
Naturally, we start to lose attention and power during long hours of work or studying. That’s why you should start with the tasks you don’t like. If the tasks get easier and more enjoyable, it will help you to stay focused.
- …or vice versa.
You can begin with easier tasks too. You won’t get distracted from doing your least favorite tasks if you start with appealing ones. And they will help you to get into a rhythm that will keep you going until the very end.
Does it make any sense? It sure will now. SQ3R stands for this: survey, question, read, recite, review. It’s a reading comprehension method that makes digesting material more effective.
- Mix it up.
When planning your classes and courses, make the harder ones interchange with easier ones. Also, make it different for each day. For instance, have one day with a heavy workload and the next one with a lighter workload.
- Keep it regular.
You need to study regularly. Keep in mind that once you lose the pace, it will be difficult to get back on track.
- Involve audio.
Audiotaping the lectures can help if you struggle to keep up with writing everything down. And listening to those lectures again will help you to revise the material and remember it better. This is one of the ADHD college tips that is definitely worth trying.
- Stay offline.
If you have a choice between online courses and actual classes, the latter is better. It’s easier to lose focus with online courses, while classes will provide you with more structured materials and studying processes.
- Join forces.
It’s always great to have people who share the same interests around. Clubs make it possible for you to find such people. Join a club and you’ll always have someone to talk to and to ask for help if you need it.
- Get fun out of the way.
It may sound crazy at first.
But, surprisingly, this ADHD strategy actually works. If you rush your studying in order to get as quickly as possible to the part when you’re having fun, allow yourself to have fun first. Set the timer for about an hour. Then, after you’ve had your fun, do what you have to do with a clear mind.
- Let procrastination in… for a little while.
This goes together with the multitasking we talked about earlier, as well as with the previous tip. If you don’t have a deadline, and you get a random urge to clean up your room, let it happen and then go back to studying. You’ll spend less time on doing both tasks than on doing the two of them separately.
- Set specific goals.
Studying “just because you have to” will never work. You need to set specific goals for yourself. Make ones that are short-term, and complete them to reach a long-term goal. Think of something you want to achieve and you’ll get there eventually. This is one of the ADHD study skills worth developing.
- Concentrate the right way.
Have a symbol that you’ll associate with studying. It can be whatever you want. Put it in sight before starting to work. It will help you to concentrate, as well as start a routine that will get you going.
- Avoid wrong associations.
If you’ve noticed that your thoughts start wandering, stop working for a while. You don’t want your study items to be associated with daydreaming. After a short break, it’ll be easier to get back on track.
- Read with pauses.
If you have a hard time concentrating on reading, try stopping for 10 seconds after each finished page. Even though it will increase your total studying time, you’ll be able to digest the information better.
- Set unfinished business aside.
Not studying, though. If you have any unfinished tasks, don’t start them just before you’re about to study. You’ll avoid wasting your time and won’t have a habit of starting things at the last second.
- Free your mind.
Don’t let the thoughts of what you need to do later prevent you from completing current tasks. Instead, put them on paper. As a result, you’re free of distractions, and there’s a reminder of what else awaits you that you can deal with later.
- Stay relaxed.
Studying while you’re stressed will only make things worse. You don’t need to think of studying as something worrying and unpleasant. Use methods of relaxation that work the best for you, so that you can start studying in a good mood.
- Don’t be afraid to overlearn.
Don’t deprive yourself of extra studying time just because someone says it’s “too much”. If you need one more hour to learn certain material properly, take it.
- Be aware of your learning style.
Your learning style can be kinesthetic (the most common among ADHD learning styles), auditory or visual.
Now, here’s what you should do:
Find the studying approach that suits you the most. And if it doesn’t bring the desired results, move on to the next one. If you work with a tutor, let them know about your learning style, so they’ll have a better idea of how to help you study more efficiently.
- Create a study guide… and go beyond it.
Making your own study guide helps to outline the most important information and makes your studying more structured. You’ll also be able to find additional materials in case there’s something missing or unclear.
- Take quizzes.
We’ve already talked about making tests for yourself to make sure you’ve memorized everything.
But there’s one more test taking strategy for ADHD students that you should try.
Take different types of tests and quizzes. This way, you’ll not only be familiar with the material itself, but also with tasks you’ll have to complete on a real test.
- Begin from the end.
Before starting a certain task, first, go through questions and summaries. This will give you a clearer understanding of the main idea and what this topic is all about.
- Question everything.
There’s no such thing as too many study tips for ADHD college students.
Apart from reading the questions before learning the topic, come up with your own questions too. Make them based on titles and subheadings. You can also come up with questions while reading. It helps to understand the text and get the most out of it.
If you’re interested in finding out more about ADD and ways to cope with it, check out this Attention Deficit Disorder Handbook.
Results won’t come in a single day and great study skills still require a certain amount of work. In order to improve your performance and make the most of these ADHD strategies, you need time and dedication. Blindly following these study tips and study techniques isn’t enough. You need to be ready for changes and be determined to get better at what you do. In the end, you’ll see that these strategies for ADHD students do work. Aim for success and you’ll reach it without a doubt.