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How to Study Less and Get Better Grades

When you travel, do you go by car, train, or fighter jet?

It’s a silly question, but what if you could fly to your vacation in a fighter jet? What if it didn’t cost any more than a car ride? Actually, what if it cost less? Wouldn’t you do it?

Why would you bother with the hassle of a long car ride when your jet could get you there in half the time?

Studying works the same way. There are many ways to get to your destination, a good grade, but they aren’t all equal.

Some students know how to study effectively, and they take the fighter jet approach directly to a great test score. Most students take the scenic route, making many unnecessary stops that slow them down.

The stops, in this case, are distractions. A stroll across Amazon Shopping Avenue, a quick trip to TikTok Tavern, or a few minutes at Snacking Shores. There are endless stops you can make on your studying road trip. Most will feel fun in the moment but will really slow you down. You’ll still be on the road while your fighter jet friends relax at your destination.

It’s possible to study less and get better grades than most people.

Slow and steady studying can get you a good grade, but it just isn’t necessary most of the time. The fighter jet pilots of your classes will be getting good grades too, and they’ll have a lot more free time to focus on other things.

So, what is it that separates the jets from the cars? The single most significant factor is pseudo-studying.

What is Pseudo-studying?

You can find “pseudo-studiers” around every corner of a college campus or busy coffee shop. They sit at their table studying from dawn until dusk.

It appears they are perfect students, but if you look closely, you’ll find that most of these “studious” people only spend half of their time studying. The rest of their time involves browsing social media, talking with friends, or watching YouTube videos.

Cal Newport first coined the term “pseudo-working” in his book, How to Become a Straight-A Student. He describes it as someone who looks productive and spends a lot of time working but, due to a lack of focus and concentration, doesn’t accomplish much.

Newport interviewed some of the top students around the U.S. and talked to them about their studying habits. He found that these high-achieving students avoided pseudo-studying at all costs. They actually spent less time studying than their peers. The high-performing students preferred the fighter jet approach, getting work done and out of the way so that they could enjoy their lives.

Constantly getting distracted is one of the biggest traps that students fall into. It can diminish how much you enjoy your work and harm your grades. But the reverse is true if you fight against pseudo-studying. You’ll have more free time, less stress, and higher test scores. Here are three simple steps to ditch the car and hop in a fighter jet.

Three Tips for Avoiding Pseudo-studying

Avoid Your Phone

All technology can be a big distraction, but the chances are you’ll need your laptop or tablet to do your work. Your phone is probably not necessary.

Phones are excellent tools for some things, but they usually get in the way of us doing real work. To avoid pseudo-working, you need to avoid your phone.

Put it in another room, give it to a friend, or turn it off completely. The harder it is for you to access it, the better.

Be Cautious of Working with Others

Studying with others is a double-edged sword. It can be a great way to learn about a topic, but it is also the easiest way to distract yourself when you need to get work done.

Most study groups form because people don’t actually want to study. They want to hang out with their friends but need to get work done, so they say, “Let’s have a study night!” It sounds great in theory but rarely works in practice.

You’ll have a great time chatting the night away, while only getting through one or two practice problems. A focused student could take multiple practice tests in the same amount of time.

But you know yourself and your friends. If you know you always talk for hours with Becky, then don’t study with Becky.

On the other hand, it can be very motivating to be in the same room as a friend or classmate while studying. You just have to choose wisely.

Use A Timer

A focused student doesn’t study for 4 hours straight. Breaks are still necessary to avoid burnout. But focused students take focused breaks. The easiest way to ensure that you keep your focus is by using something like the Pomodoro technique, switching between working and resting at specific intervals.

Fighter jets have to stop for gas, but not often. They get down, fuel up, then get back in the air.

Study for 30 minutes, take a break for 5, then get back to it. If you follow this structure instead of taking breaks loosely, you can compress your study time into a much smaller part of the day.

In your studying journey, the route you choose and the distractions you avoid are pivotal in determining how quickly and efficiently you reach your goal.

By implementing strategies such as avoiding your phone, choosing study partners wisely, and using time management techniques like the Pomodoro method, you can prevent pseudo-studying and instead transform your study sessions into a streamlined, fighter jet experience.

Good luck, and happy studying!

— Alex

Published by

Jay Willis

Jay Willis joined Mometrix as Vice President of Sales in 2009, and has developed several key strategic relationships that have enhanced the distribution of Mometrix products. With nearly 20 years of sales experience in the publishing industry, his dedication to providing the highest quality experience for customers, coupled with his sales and marketing expertise, has resulted in significant growth of the Institutional Sales division. Learn more