Published on ADDitudeMag.com
10 New Ways to Study with ADHD
No more late-night cramming. Research shows that these solid study techniques help kids with ADHD learn faster, retain more, and perform better on tests.
by Ann Dolin, M.Ed.
Less Is More
For students with ADHD, studying for a quiz or test can be
daunting, frustrating, and fatiguing. It doesn't have to be that way. Luckily, new research shows that students
with attention deficit don't need to spend more time studying; they just
need to study differently.
Shelve the Textbook
Reading is a challenging way for the ADHD brain to learn. It's passive, like learning to play basketball by watching your
coach play. The best way to study is to make a practice test. Try to predict
what your teacher may ask on the exam: Look over your study guide, pull out old
quizzes, find important notes, and ask classmates what they think is important. Then create a practice test.
Tech Is Your Friend
Since you will be poring over your notes to create a practice
test (see previous slide), use these tools to capture what you might have missed during the lecture. Apps like Notability and the Livescribe Smartpen record a
lecture while you take notes, synching the audio with the notes. Bonus: Listening to a lecture again is a big help for auditory
Spread It Out
Don't cram for tests. Studying material in several shorter sessions—45 minutes a day over four days—will give you deeper familiarity with the material. What's more, sleeping on it will help you retain more of it. During sleep, the brain rehashes information you've learned. Reviewing it over several days will increase the odds that you will remember more of the material and better understand it.
Study in a Coffee Shop
Increase your focus and motivation for studying by seeking out locations outside of your house or room. That way, a laptop, phone, or a pet at home won't take you off
task. Some kids study well in Starbucks or another venue that has moderate levels of
background noise. Others prefer to hole up in a study carrel in the library, far away from distracting sounds and sights. Experiment and see what works best for you.
Do a Before-Bed Blitz
Studies show that you remember more when you take 10 to 15
minutes to review material just before you go to sleep. Don’t do all of your studying at bedtime,
just a quick review so the brain processes the information as you dream away.
Move More, Learn More
Thirty minutes of aerobic exercise a day, four to five days
a week, improves focus and executive functioning skills, especially in students
with ADHD. If you are a student athlete, study on the
bus or in the car as you travel home from an event. Think about studying right
after practice, too. If you don't play a sport, walk your
dog, shoot some hoops, or bounce on a trampoline before doing schoolwork.
Your nose is a powerful study tool. Research shows that if
you are exposed to the same smell when you study and sleep, you may remember
more. Here's how to do it: When you study, put a small dish of essential oil nearby (peppermint is a good choice because it relieves stress). Place a small dish of
the same scent by your bed when you sleep. Research suggests that your brain
will associate the scent with the material studied—and you will remember more of the material.
Give Yourself a Break
Don’t plow straight through the test material for hours on end. Research shows
that students remember more when they take breaks during study sessions. Having a little downtime
enables your brain to review information, even when you don't know your processing it. Set a timer for every 20 minutes to remind you to take a break.
Take a Power Nap
Experts say that most people need to sleep eight to nine hours a night to remember what they've learned. Teens need even more. Thirty-minute afternoon naps can help. Be
sure these siestas don't run longer than 30 minutes, though, since extended shuteye could leave you tossing and turning at bedtime.
Sugary drinks can improve focus and mood. Gatorade or apple juice provide glucose, which is the primary source of fuel
to the brain. If you're low on glucose, you won’t be able to focus or
perform well. Skip soda and other drinks with high levels of sugar, though. They will provide too much glucose, which will result in a sugar
crash later. Always sip—don't gulp—a sugary drink to avoid this rollercoaster ride.
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