Adult Study Techniques

Home Welcome to the ADDitude Forums For Adults Getting Things Done Adult Study Techniques

Viewing 11 reply threads
  • Author
    • #59655


      So a little about me before I ask my question! I’m a 32 year old male who has just been diagnosed with ADHD Combined. I have my first follow up session with the psychologist on 3rd October (the day before my birthday, 2 days before a meeting with my director and manager regarding my high level of sick days!).

      I am also starting a part-online course to teach English as a foreign language this coming weekend (10th September).

      I have not studied for nearly 10 years and that did not go terribly well for various reasons not all attributed to my now confirmed ADHD. I was never good at studying or revising for exams at school – and this was not due to my level of ability (ADHD cliché insert here). I am also living on my own for the first time in 10 years having split from my partner who is now out of the country.

      I am getting quite anxious that I won’t cope well with the level of study required to pass the course as I have difficulty even starting studying – and then there is the staying on point and getting it done. So after all of this preamble, my question is fairly simple.

      Are there any techniques that other adult students use to aid them when studying that I could use? Anything at all? I would be eternally grateful!

      Many thanks


    • #59719
      Penny Williams

      Hi Michael!

      You’re already ahead this time, because you know you have ADHD and the challenges you need to work around. The following article offers lots of tips for adults with ADHD who are going back to school:

      10 Back-to-School Tips for Grownups

      ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

    • #60085

      Hi, Michael
      I just recently went back to school after 6 years so I know what your feeling.
      I learned having consistent homework or studying days helps me.
      And also sitting in the first row of class.
      I hope that helps some.

      Good luck

    • #60107


      I’ve got something that acts like Executive Function Disorder, which is a big part of ADHD. The diagnosis is recent (and so far not confirmed formally but I am not in any doubt about it). The condition has been lifelong. My school career was mixed, and I’ve had a lot of problems and developed a lot of coping strategies (some successful. Not all) for it. Here’s what I have that has worked.

      Please note that this is all In My Own Opinion. Don’t feel like I’m telling you that you _have_ to use any of it _unless you try it and find that it works!_

      The way I accomplish important things is by:

      1) Setting a _very limited_ objective – getting a one-day assignment done, for example.
      1a) If there’s a really big assignment, I generally need advice from the prof or the TA (or my wife) in breaking it down into chunks. I _have_ to ask. I can’t do that stuff myself beyond a fairly small scale, and if I don’t ask for help, it won’t get done.

      2) Staying on that _one_ thing, not going to book or television or music or window, until it’s done or I’m too tired to continue.
      2a) Asking classmates for help or advice if I find that I’m not making progress or not understanding what has to be done/read/learned.

      3) Accepting that I’m going to face distractions, going to _be_ distracted, and:
      3a) Giving myself permission to say “I’m distracted, I have to come back,” or
      3b) “I’m distracted, I need a short break instead of burning out,” or
      3c) “I’m out of spoons for today, need to do something calming/hit the sack.”

      Your success will very much depend on your ability to say “even if I don’t get done what I want the first time (or the second, or the third), I’ll get back up and try again, and ask for help with what I don’t understand.” If you can keep on getting back in the chair after losing focus, and forgive yourself for losing focus (instead of getting angry/frustrated!), you will be able to do what needs doing.

      Winston Churchill: “Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.” ( )

      It’s customary to say “good luck” after these things. I say, instead:
      Keep getting back up after you get knocked down. If you never give up, you will succeed at the important things.

      Hope this helps.

      –Phil S.

    • #60108

      I found college to be so much easier on my ADHD. I had fewer subjects to juggle, and I got more choice in what I studied. I took classes that were related to my chosen career path, so they were INTERESTING. I did have to take minimum required classes, but I tried to mix those up with classes in my major.

      If teaching English is something you really want to do and gets you fired up, studying should at least be loads easier than high school. If you find yourself struggling with attention sometimes (not every part of the course will be awesome most likely) try finding a study group. Sometimes getting that interaction with other people can get you more sucked in to a topic.

      Congrats and good luck

    • #60169

      Generally ADHD people have trouble with either starting or finishing a task (I imagine some unfortunate ones have both, which must be truly incapacitating). My problem is with the former, and to advance the most useful thing for me is the “smallest step” technique. I ask myself: “What is the smallest thing I can do to advance on my task?” and the answer is usually something I feel capable of doing. That means: step 1: locate the backpack; step 2: get out the right book and notes; step 3: take them to the least distracting place I can think of; step 4: open to the right page, etc. etc. Often the first few steps are by far the hardest, after which the rest flow easily and I won’t have to ask myself the question unless I get stuck or distracted.

      Other helpful techniques for me:
      – set a timer for 15 minutes and when it rings figure out if I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing :),
      – write every timed task on the calendar, even if it’s small and you are sure you’ll remember,
      – write down before the assignment starts how you will know the assignment is completed (this stops me either from ignoring the last details or going deeply on a tangent),
      – tell somebody to check with you at a specific time if a task is done, or even just state an intention out loud to somebody,
      – try memorizing in motion (I basically walk around the room in circles and read out loud and then repeat to myself out loud what I have to remember — looks funny but it works),
      – keep in mind what the ultimate goal is (teaching English to non-English speakers), and visualize how what you are learning will be applied to the task. (I tend to get resentful and close-minded when I feel “I must do” something, and this is a good way to get me to remember what I actually want out of a task),
      – consider not taking notes. I cannot listen and write at the same time, plus my writing is nearly unintelligible when distracted, so I found it’s more useful for me to listen closely to the teacher and ask somebody for the notes (plus usually everything is online nowadays).

      Good luck on your new endeavor! You are motivated to work at it, so half the hurdles are already passed.

      • This reply was modified 4 years, 4 months ago by Lys.
      • This reply was modified 4 years, 4 months ago by Lys.
      • This reply was modified 4 years, 4 months ago by Penny Williams.
    • #60202

      Hi all to have responded and thank you so much! I hahave had a very stressful week moving the last bits from my old place but I spent yesterday evening sorting out my bedroom and making it into a place I can study and also relax. It feels good!

      I have decided to make a weekly timetable to print up and put on the wall and then make a daily task list each evening for the following day.

      Day 1 was today. Up at 8.30, breakfast, bit of cleaning, 10 minutes of meditation and then the gym. Made my weekly timetable and have now rewarded mself by watching a football(soccer) game with a friend. Will get my weekly shop on my way home and then dedicate myself to a couple of hours of prep study ahead of the start of my course tomorrow.

      You didn’t need to know all of that but I’m trying to make it real and get the new routine embedded!

      I’ll let you know how I get on soon.

      Thanks again.


    • #60432

      I’ve educated for GED readiness programs…unfortunately many learning handicaps among grown-ups go undiscovered. Its great that you understand you have a learning handicap so you would now be able to manage it. Custom Assignment Help & I would converse with your instructor and approach them for systems for you to take in more successfully – you may find that you are a more visual student, or learn better using certain types of workbooks, etc. I’ve taught many students who have gotten their GED’s and have had learning disabilities — it is possiible to don’t give up!

    • #60470

      You don’t have to study the way you think you’re supposed to. Find what works for you: laying on the floor or upsidedown on the couch, read out loud, sing what your reading, etc. Be creative and find what works for you.

    • #60846

      Thank you for your input alvinaamanda11 & tiggerfan, it is greatly appreciated.

      I am pleased (and very proud) to say, even though its just week 1 of the course, I have already completed all the tasks that were set and can now spend the next two days relaxing after work and seeing my friend before the next assignments are set on Saturday! Start as you mean to go on!

    • #61055

      Hi Michael
      I am 32 and was diagnosed with ADHD 2 months ago. I started uni almost 10years after finishing high school and have gone into do my masters. I’ve had to work VERY hard. An earlier diagnosis would have mde my life SO much easier, I am now about 2 weeks away from finishing. 💃🏽
      These are some of the strategies I have used over the last 5 years and continue to use daily
      – set yourself a schedule.
      – I have tried and tried to use a pomodoro timer but it just hasn’t worked for me. What has and continues to help is music. I love music but found music that I liked was a distraction. I started to listen to music I don’t like but then I found focus playlists on Spotify. These have been AMAZING. I can have these up loud, drowning out any distractions around me but there are no words for me to sing along to and be distracted by 😀
      – if the slides for class/lecture are available before class print them out and write your notes on there. This way you don’t have to write now what’s on the screen just added extras. Plus I found there is something about actually writing my notes with a pen that helps me remember the content.
      – if the lectures aren’t recorded, record them on your phone.
      – when the lecturer is giving assignment instructions RECORD IT!!!!!! Keep recording even when students are asking question or for clarification.
      – don’t study where you know you will be distracted. The library or a quiet coffee place/bookshop have worked the best for me. At home I tend to clean…to the point where I cleaned my ceiling 🙄. If this doesn’t work. Download everything you need, unplug your wifi and put your phone on do not disturb (I’ve found silent isn’t enough).
      – I also go on a social media fast during semester. Just to help reduce my distractions.
      – when I am prepping to write a paper (not sure if this is super applicable for you or not) as I read the material I type my notes so that they can be cut and pasted into my draft and I can tease out the thought etc. Note taking takes extra time, cut and paste saves time and not having to remember what 10 different papers said and which one said what has been very helpful.

      Best of luck in your course

    • #81355

      Hi Michael I’m 44 and was diagnosed 2 months ago and in my final (academic) year of my law degree. My entire life I’ve done just enough to pass. I’ve tied to study harder to get better marks but it never seems to work so I just decided there was no point. As long as I pass I’m ok with it. My wife on the other hand is an absessive overachiever lol

      There is some VERY good advice given above.

      I do find that there are days, like today, when I just cant get anything done. The meds dont help, the apps and “concentration music” just irritate me and my brain just doesn’t want to use any of the support mechanisms I’ve put in place. It’s 3pm (in South Africa) and I’ve decided to stop fighting it and just let my brain go where it wants. I’ll take work home and hopefully get something done tonight.

      Anyway, I dont know if it’s just me or if other people have days like that too but I’ve learned not to beat myself up about it.

      Of course the woman sitting in the cubicle next to me singing very depressing gospel is not helping. lol

      Best of luck 🙂 Search this site, it has some brilliant articles and stuff on study tips.

      • This reply was modified 3 years, 9 months ago by Morgaen01.
Viewing 11 reply threads

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.