Knowing how to study is inarguably as important as studying itself. For people with ADHD, this is even more important because you may have less time actually dedicated to studying as you may have to spend more time fighting distractions. There are certainly many study methods available, but surely some are more effective than others. To help us find an answer, we looked at some recent developments in scientific literature.
Scientists have been studying various study habits for years now, but recently, a group from Kent State University under the direction of John Dunlosky (et al. 2013) analyzed ten of the most common study habits employed by students and to see whether or not these habits were supported by scientific literature.
The ten study habits that the team looked at were:
- Elaborating (explaining why a fact is true)
- Explaining (relating information to current knowledge)
- Rehearsal tests
- Imagery (creating mental images of the information)
- Distributed studying
- Mixed studying
Usually, people form their own study habits out of trial and error or even by complete accident. They just study that way because that’s how they always have. But what did this new research discover?
The Two Best Study Habits for ADHD
The researchers found that two techniques stood out above all the rest, and they were practice testing and distributed studying. These techniques appear to consistently boost the marks students receive on tests in all subjects. They also found some techniques that were consistently ineffective. Suprisingly these less effective study techniques were also the most employed by students.
The least effective study habits were highlighting, rereading, and summarizing what has already been learned. It turns out that the researchers were as surprised by these results as most of us are to read them.
“I was shocked that some strategies that students use a lot — such as rereading and highlighting — seem to provide minimal benefits to their learning and performance,” Dunlosky said. “By just replacing rereading with delayed retrieval practice, students would benefit.”
Some of the other study techniques that were examined received mixed reviews, but were still slightly positive overall. These techniques lying in the medium effectiveness range included explanation and elaboration, as well as mnemonics for learning certain key concepts and terms.
The benefit of these results for people with ADHD is that it is much easier to spread your study sessions out evenly rather than trying to force yourself to sit down for extended periods of time. Practice testing can also hold your attention relatively easier than rereading and summarizing as well. So the two most effective techniques lends themselves extremely well for people with ADHD.
Dunlosky, J. Rawson, K.A., Marsh, E.J., Nathan, M.J. & Willingham, D.T. (2013). Improving Students’ Learning With Effective Learning Techniques: Promising Directions From Cognitive and Educational Psychology. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 14, 4-58.