It is the dream of every student to achieve academic success.

The secret to academic success in the university lies in how effective your study periods are. Most people blame lack of study time and others allude academic success to spending more time with the books. Both of these assumptions are not without faults.

The fact is, when it comes to academic success in relation to study periods, it has more to do with the quality of study over quantity of study. In this post, I discuss 5 main ways to achieve effective study periods in the university. These may not be universal but they worked excellently for me and I believe that they will work for anyone else who practices them religiously.

  1. Learning by association:

Learning by association is actually not a new thing that I have come up with. It’s a psychological philosophy that has been studied over time and found to work very well in almost every learning situation.

learning by assoc

I happened to have come to appreciate it in my own studies and I built a habit of it even before getting to read about the psychology behind it. Not to bore you with literature findings, my point is, I am not the only one who has found this to work very well.

Let me explain to you what learning by association actually means. Personally, when I sit down to learn, this is the first thing that comes to mind because I am not good with memorising things. So, what I do is to find something which has a form of similarity with what I am learning and try to link them both.

It could be anything at all. For instance, I can link a movie character to something I’m just reading about and whenever I remember, the movie character, I remember what I learned. Anytime, I needed to remember what I learnt, it becomes quite easier because all I need to remember is the character from the movie and it takes my mind back to the exact association that I formed.


  1. Learning by teaching:

This implies just as the literal meaning of learning by teaching may mean to anyone who understands English. You learn the thing first and you proceed to teach it to others.

Whenever I advise people to learn by teaching, the first response that they usually give is that “I am not good at teaching”.

The fact is, you don’t need to be good at teaching to use this method of learning. You have to learn to apply this method no matter how bad you are at teaching and it will come in handy with time.

Personally, my philosophy with regards to this is, I don’t really understand a concept until I have taught someone who doesn’t know it to understand it. So, if I teach someone and they’re don’t understand or are more confused then I know that I don’t really understand the thing myself. I go back to study it and then go to teach it again. I do this again and again until the person understands it. That is only when I know that I now understand the thing.

Let me give you an insight into how I get people to teach. You may not be the best student in your class or you may not even be counted amongst the best in class. However, wherever position you find yourself in the class, you can apply this method.

How I use this method:

Whenever I learn something new that I want to teach, I approach people usually those who sit close to me in class and ask them if they know about the particular topic. If the answer is yes, I pretend not to know it and ask them questions so that I may get a different perspective of it or get more insight into it. Most times, by so doing, I get to ask questions that bring out a better understanding and may even prompt me to find out more about a particular thing.

When the answer is no, then I have the opportunity to teach the individual. Not everybody is receptive to you indirectly offering to teach them but I do it so often that at any point in time, I have someone who may be interested in it. One important note is that those who are naïve of the topic sometimes ask some questions that you never thought about which sends you back to your books looking for more.


  1. Avoid distractions during studies

This is basic and some may overlook it. Even though it is common sense to avoid distractions during studies, it is gradually becoming difficult to do so in this our digital world.

avoid distractions

Multi-tasking isn’t a good practice when it comes to studying effectively. You have to draw a line between the things that may or may not distract you during studies. Maybe arguably mobile phones, social media, television sets and even sometimes music may be forms of distractions during studies. Even the kind of people we study with may be a form of distraction. Our study position may also be a form of distraction.

Notwithstanding all these possible forms of distractions, some people believe that they study best with them. For example, I know a number of people who say they study best when they have music on. I won’t want to argue with anyone about this but the advice I can give is to know yourself well. In fact, no one can know you more than yourself. Figure out what distracts you and what doesn’t.

Also, don’t be fixated on one idea that seems to be working for you. The best thing to do is to try various ways and get a way to measure the output. A practical example will be for you to switch from studying with music to without music and try measuring your absorption rate.

Find out what works best for you and practice it till it becomes part of you.


  1. Be guided by questions

Have you asked your self why so many people want to study with past questions? It may be for the simple reason that a particular lecturer never sets new questions and thus you just have to study the past questions and nothing more in order to pass his/her exams. This is just a minor reason and happens once in a million times.


Personally, I have always learned with questions and this has helped me tremendously. It all started a long time ago when I was in primary school. I set some questions for my colleagues to answer based on what we were taught in class and fortunately for me, most of the questions I set were similar to what the teacher brought in the examination.

From that time, I have been a fan of setting my own questions during studies and it really pays off most of the time. That feeling where you meet a question in the examination room and you know that the lecturer was thinking the same way you thought and the answer to the question just smiles at you.

This particular one comes with practice. At least, you would have to study patterns or trends by which a particular lecturer sets his questions. There is an adage that, if you want to catch a thief then you would have to think like one. Try putting yourself in the shoes of that particular lecturer based on his/her interest and imagine the kind of questions he/she will set from the particular page you are reading, write them down and learn along that line. This method works efficiently when you’re preparing for an examination.



  1. Set objectives for each study period

Some people just learn anything at any time. If you want to make the best of your study time, do well to plan ahead. A good farmer never goes to the farm with and a dull cutlass, so as a good student will always have a plan for study time.

So, before every study, take at least the first 5 minutes to plan what you want to achieve. In order words, set some objectives for yourself before you start. Once you start studying, keep an eye on your objectives and be ticking the ones you achieve. Practice will make you perfect.

Doing these put things in a certain perspective and helps you achieve more within a short period of time. You’re more focused if you have some objectives and being able to achieve them serves as motivation for studying more.


  1. Learn with acronyms

Last but not least on the list is studying with acronyms. Acronyms usually come in handy when memorizing things become difficult. I have used many of these countless times during my university study periods and I continually use it almost everywhere I go. I believe this is a solution to all those like myself who claim they are not good at memorizing stuff.


By learning with acronyms, I mean using the first letter(s) or sometimes and prominent letters in a word, series of words or sentences to form a new word that is easier to remember. Once you remember, this word you’re able to tell the actual meaning of each of the representative letters.

One prominent one, that I learned from primary school that I have never forgotten and I know a number of people remember as well is “MR NIGER” representing the 7 life processes (Movement, Respiration, Nutrition, Irritability, Growth, Excretion, Reproduction).

Create your own acronyms and most times make sure they make some form of sense to you or they become something you can easily relate to. If you combine this with associations as I discussed in the first method, you’re likely to get the best results.


In conclusion, pick and choose the ones which work best for you and stick with them. But before you can come to the conclusion that a method is good for you; you should have tried it. I, therefore, urge you to try out all the other methods for some time and see which one works best for you. Enjoy your study periods as much as you would want to. All the best.



Written by:
Ehoneah Obed < >