In this article, I’m going to show you how to enjoy studying with these 23 fun ways to study. Most of these tips are about games to play while studying! So read on to find out how to make studying fun…
1. Use an Online Game
Online games and apps for studying are becoming increasingly popular.
If you’re luck, you’ll find some relevant ones for your specific topic already out there. If you’re studying a language, you’ve got DuoLingo.
If you’re studying mathematics or physics there’s also a good chance you’ll find an app or website out there for you. Do a google search and see what your options are.
Some of the most common apps for gamifying learning are flashcard apps.
Here are the most popular Flashcard & Study Apps:
For most of these flashcard apps, you’ll need to input your own questions and answers, then come back to the app regularly to study.
They embed gamification by providing rewards and points for beating previous records or achieving mastery on certain questions you’ve been struggling with.
Check the flashcard archive for each app – you may find someone has already created a flashcard set for your topic.
There’s also some really good gamified video course on the web. They usually involve a video explanation, followed by a comprehension quiz.
Here are the most popular gamified video websites:
- TedEd: More than just videos, people are now creating quizzes and building course infrastructure around their videos
- Coursea: Check out Coursea’s offering of thousands of courses made by professional educators and (mostly) provided for free
2. Create Flashcards
Above I mentioned there’s flashcard apps that you can use to study.
Personally, I prefer creating flashcards on good old-fashioned cardboard.
I find making flashcards kinda fun. It’s a creative, artsy activity to do that also has a valuable, productive purpose.
I find the act of making flashcards is also great for remembering information.
To make flashcards, you have to:
- Find the most important information that you want to remember;
- Create Questions and Answers based on that information;
- Write the Questions and Answers in a brief, easy-to read format.
These three tasks are fantastic for learning! You’re selecting, ordering synthesizing and re-wording information! That’s so, so good for your memory!
I recommend keeping the information on the flashcards really brief and easy to read. Long paragraphs will be boring and do your head in.
Make them easy to read and short to keep you engaged!
Plus, if you’re really artsy and love being decorative, you can make your flashcards really well designed and visually attractive.
3. Study with Friends
Studying with friends is by far the best way to turn studying into some fun.
Studying on your own in your bedroom is boring. It’s quiet, the content is probably really dry, and it overall is a pretty mind numbing experience.
But when studying with friends you can have a laugh together, discuss things that went on in class, and encourage one another to keep learning.
The trick with this one is to not get distracted. If you’re with a particularly distracted or silly friend, chances are not much will get done.
So remember, having fun with friends while studying is great – so long as you’re still focused on actually studying!
4. Use your Flashcards to Test your Friends
One way to keep studying with friends on-track is to test one another using flashcards.
I already mentioned in Step 2 that I love using flashcards to study.
Flashcards can totally be a two-person activity. Take turns being the person who does the testing and the person who does the answering.
The sorts of flashcard questions you can use might be:
- Provide a definition of this term …
- What is the answer to this sum …
- What key idea did this theorist come up with …
- When did this explorer discover …
To extend this even more (and make it more fun!) use flashcards in groups of 3. One person becomes the quizmaster and the other two race to come up with the right answer.
The three person version of the game works best with flashcards that have close-ended answers. That means the questions should have an exact two or three word answer, not a long fluffy response – or else it’s hard to race each other.
In the three person version you can also keep score of who is winning to make the game even more fun.
5. Play ‘Heads Up’ with your Friends
An alternative game to play when studying with friends is Heads Up.
You might remember a few years ago this was a really popular app on your phone. You used to put the phone on your forehead and try to guess what was written on it. When you got it right you flicked the phone down and a new answer came up. Remember that?
The above video shows Ellen playing that game.
Well, you can play it with hand-held palm cards.
Come up with terms, concepts and ideas that you need to study. Any key words that are only one to three words are ideal.
Then, get someone who will be the ‘guesser’ to hold one of the cards up on their forehead.
The other players have to give the guesser clues without saying the actual word on their forehead until the guesser answers.
6. Play ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’ with your Friends
Another studying game you can play with your friends is ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’.
This game has been on TV for over 20 years, and is basically just a series of multiple choice questions!
Set up 20 multiple choice questions for your friends based on the topic you’re studying. Have them as a one sentence question and 4 choices as answers.
Then, order your questions from easiest to hardest. You’ll want to give them the easiest question first and the hardest one last.
To make this one more competitive, you can do it in groups of 3 – 5 and have one quizmaster. The person who gets the most answers right can win a prize like a block of chocolate.
5. Teach your Friends the Content
They say the best way to learn is to teach.
So, give it a go!
This strategy is one I used a lot during my undergraduate degree because my group of friends were always a little bit behind me when it came to studies! So, they’re come up to me a week before the tests begging me to explain all the information.
To teach your friends the content, you’re going to have to:
- Brainstorm what you think is the most important things to know;
- Do some research to get the top bits of information you want them to know;
- Come up with some clear and easy ways to explain the concepts;
- Make up a few quizzes or worksheets for your friends to complete.
Another way to do this is to get your friends to bring their draft to a study session and go through it with them. Give them suggestions about how to improve their work.
You don’t have to be the most knowledgeable person on the content. Just try to help your friends out and you’ll find it’ll help you clarify ideas in your mind
6. Get your Kid Cousin to Test You
Here’s another one I’ve done a lot.
I used to have my cousin coming up to me wanting to play with me all the time, but I was busy studying!
So, seeing as they were so keen to hang out, I enlisted their help.
I would try two strategies:
- I’d get them to read out questions to me and ask them to answer them;
- I’d try to get them to understand what I was talking about. I’d draw them pictures or diagrams to see just how much of what I was learning I could teach to a kid. This one got a bit tough as the content got too hard for them.
I’ll admit, this strategy is fun but fails a lot of the time. But, it’s an entertaining distraction for a few minutes. We have a laugh, the kid usually says some cute stuff, and then they get bored and I get on with studying again.
7. Bribe Yourself with a Fun Reward
If you can’t find a way to have fun studying, promise yourself some fun afterwards.
This trick is called the Premack Principle. You might also know it as grandma’s rule:
You can’t have desert until you’ve had your vegetables.
Well, the studying is the vegetables and … what’s going to be your desert?
Once you’ve finished studying, what fun reward can you give yourself for sitting it through and not quitting?
Here’s some ideas:
- I usually set a Netflix episode as my end-of-study reward. I’ll always watch an episode to relax after a productive day’s studying.
- Why not just a bit of chocolate? I recommend actually denying yourself the chocolate if you fail. In other words, there’s got to be a reward and a punishment (don’t just eat the chocolate no matter what!)
- Going out with friends! I get a lot of studying done the days I go out with friends at night. I feel like it’s something I can look forward to after studying, so I really focus in on studying those days.
Or, you could aim bigger and come up with a longer-term reward that’s bigger and more fun and therefore an even bigger incentive for you to study:
- A trip to the movies or a theme park after the exam is over;
- Buy that new phone, watch or computer you’ve been wanting to buy a while;
- A big celebratory night out
- If you’re a gamer, a new video game as a reward for your hard work at the end of the term or semester.
For all of these rewards, you should be willing to withhold it from yourself if you don’t study enough. Set yourself a goal like:
- Study for 2 hours today without procrastinating;
- Get a score that was higher than the score you got last term.
8. Become a #StudyGrammer
Studygram is one of the best communities of studiers I’ve heard of.
Go to Instagram right now and look it up!
It’s a hashtag community where people post their beautifully designed study notes.
I recommend giving it a go – Studygrammers are really motivated to study!
Because they love making their study notes visually appealing. They practice calligraphy, visual organization and design to make their note taking a work of art.
So, while they’re studying and learning, they’re also working on a really cool creative hobby.
To start taking visually appealing notes, simply:
- Select a color scheme for your notes;
- Learn the basics of calligraphy to see how to start writing visually appealing headings;
- Follow inspirational Studygrammers to get inspiration;
- Start your own Instagram account specifically for uploading photos of your notes.
9. Listen to Happy Music
So there’s lots of reasons I listen to music to study. And one of them is that it does make the time pass faster and I enjoy studying more!
That’s because listening to music when studying gets me into the ‘study zone’.
I find that I procrastinate a lot. I spend lots of time reading blog posts and watching random YouTube videos when really I know I should be studying.
But when I’m listening to music I can really get in the groove and study away for a much longer time without getting distracted.
I think maybe it silences some of the distracting voices in my head and I really focus in some more as a result.
Anyway, however it happens, it really works for me and makes studying a far better experience!
My top tip for listening to music while studying is this:
Try to find music with a good underlying beat but no singing voices. I find voices really grab my attention and I don’t want the music to take my attention. I just want it to set the tone.
The study music from YouTube that I embedded above does a good job of that, I think. So check out a couple of seconds of the video above to get an idea of what I mean.
While you’re at it, make sure the music is upbeat to help put you into a good mood.
Again, the video above is a good example of some pretty upbeat, fun, happy sort of study music that I like to listen to.
10. Make a Song out of your Topic
While we’re on the subject of music, why not learn your content by turning it into a song?
Probably the most popular example of that is the periodic table of elements song that I have embedded above.
Now that’s a really complex song – I get that you’re probably not going to be pro enough to do that!
But how about trying out a little A-B-A-B rhyming scheme with some information you need to remember?
An A-B-A-B rhyming scheme is simply when the first and third lines rhyme, then the second and forth lines rhyme.
Here’s an example:
My penmanship is pretty bad.
My printing’s plainly awful.
In truth, my writing looks so sad
it ought to be unlawful.
That rhyming scheme is from this great post from Poetry4Kids. I highly recommend it! It’s got a couple of other nice easy rhyming schemes that you could try out, too.
I’d love to see some examples of rhyming schemes from topics you’re studying. If you decide to do this option, make sure you share your rhyming scheme with me in the comments at the end of this page!
11. Compete Against Yourself
Are you a competitive person? I totally am. I even compete against myself.
Here’s how I do it:
- I check the time and write it down on a piece of paper.
- I try to study. And eventually get distracted.
- I write down the time I gave up and started procrastinating.
I usually procrastinate for a few minutes after this. Then, I kick myself and tell myself I need to get back to work
- I use Steps 1 and 3 above to figure out exactly how long I went studying last time around.
- I try to beat my previous record of ‘minutes studying without distractions’.
- I repeat for the whole day of studying to try to see how high a number of minutes I can get to before procrastinating.
I also compete across days, so I might say:
“Yesterday I went 24 minutes without procrastinating at one stage. Today, I’m going to try to get a study stretch of at least 25 minutes without procrastinating to beat that record.”
I really works.
12. Actually Study something Fun!
Hmmmm … here’s some tough love.
If you want to make studying fun, study something fun.
When I was in high school I chose to study Physics, Chemistry, Advanced Mathematics and Economics.
I hated high school, and in fact I didn’t even answer 50% of the questions in my Chemistry final.
Then I went to university and started studying psychology and sociology. I loved them, and happily studied for them all the time!
Turns out the reason I hated studying in high school was because I was studying subjects that I hated!
So if you just can’t stand the subjects you’re studying, perhaps it’s time to reflect on whether you’re studying the right thing!
If this sounds like you, I have a post I’d like you to check out. It’s called 17+ Alternatives to College.
Take a look at that link where you can check out all the fun, fulfilling things you could be doing if you’re feeling like you can’t keep going with your course anymore.
13. Just Study More!
People think I’m crazy that I love learning.
But I think studying is totally like working out. The more you do it, the more you enjoy it. It starts feeling good because you get good at it.
People who love going to the gym will understand me here. When you’re fit and confident about working out, going to the gym becomes a hobby. You go there to feel good about yourself.
Well, studying is kind of the same.
If you’re not study fit then you feel crap. You get distracted a lot, you don’t understand the content, and you start falling behind.
But the opposite is also true.
The more you get ahead in your coursework, the more it actually becomes enjoyable to learn about. If you’re a week ahead of the rest of your class, you go to your seminars and you actually understand what’s going on.
When you study often, you’ll start getting positive feedback from your teachers and in your tests. This will encourage you to study even more and it starts snowballing.
Before long you’ll be a nerd like me.
14. Study in the Pub
If you’re not 18 (or 21 in America … sorry, kids!), you can skip this idea.
If you can get yourself into a pub, read on amigo!
I study in the pub All. The. Time.
I mean, come on … what’s not to like? There’s beer, snacks, WiFi.
And if people can do it in a café, then why not the pub!?
Here’s two options:
Go it alone.
Find a pub or craft beer tap room that’s not too crowded during the day. One that’s got a chill atmosphere. Bring your laptop and order a beer or something to eat at least once an hour.
Have a Group Study Session in the Pub.
Study with friends in the pub.
You could study for the first two hours and then stop to have some pints as a celebratory reward.
Or, you could make studying a (light) drinking game. The beer’s the reward for getting a question right, or winning one of the study games I outlined earlier in this post.
15. Use ‘Written? Kitten!’
This is the coolest idea!
It’s a website where you get rewarded with a picture of a cute kitten for every 100 words you write!
So, if you’re writing an essay, you can write it directly into the textbox on https://writtenkitten.co/ and get your regular reward of cuteness.
There’s two simple options you can choose from:
- Choose your cuteness: You can choose between a kitten, puppy, or bunny rabbit;
- Choose your interval: You can set it to giving you a reward image every 100, 200, 500 or 1000 words.
It also has a word counter for you below your writing so you can see how close you’ve gotten to your goal.
(P.S. Written? Kitten! also has a secret Written? Bacon! alternative – check it out here: http://writtenkitten.net/?search=bacon)
16. Use Videos instead of Books
Sometimes reading sucks! It makes you sleepy, frustrated, and annoyed. You end up reading the same paragraph about 500 times.
So, we need to talk about learning from YouTube videos.
YouTube is just getting more and more popular – fast!
You’ll find there’s a YouTube video for just about everything these days. You can thank Kahn Academy for that!
The good thing about YouTube videos is that you can be told information rather than reading it. Listen to other people explaining the ideas until you get them understood.
Plus, you can always pause and rewind if you don’t quite understand what’s being said.
(Pro Tip: If you hit the settings gear in the bottom right-hand corner of a YouTube video, you can also play it at double speed to speed up your study session.)
I’d recommend just searching the key words for the topic you’re looking for. But just for goo measure, here’s three legendary YouTube channels that teach a ton of different content:
- TedEd: From TED Talks comes Ted Ed, a YouTube channel designed specifically to teach you interesting content!
- BigThink: Listen to some of the world’s greatest thinkers teaching their ideas in 3 second snippets
- Crash Course: I love John and Hank! You might know the host John Green from his book The Fault in our Stars. But, you may not know he’s got a super entertaining educational video company on YouTube that teaches everything from world history to psychology to chemistry!
- Kahn Academy: You’ve probably heard of this. It’s a speaker writing onto the screen like it’s a blackboard. A really interesting concept that students really love. Check it out now!
17. Use Podcasts
Like videos, Podcasts offer a great alternative to reading books.
The thing I love about podcasts is that I can listen to them anywhere.
I’m currently learning about ‘advanced blogging practices’ (you know, because I’m a blogger) and every afternoon I go for a 45-minute walk where I listen to a podcast while enjoying some fresh air.
They’re also usually really engaging. They interview super smart people or involve discussions between hosts about various different ideas.
It’s literally listening to people having a down-to-earth conversation about your topic.
So it’s way easier to consume than reading a book ever will be.
To try out podcasts, go to your smartphone and download a podcasting app. If you’re on an iPhone, you’ve got iTunes podcasts. If you’re on an android, start with CastBox.
Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education.