Learning and studying can be extremely stressful for people with ADHD. Instead of pressuring yourself to meet perceived norms when it comes to study methods, the best route to academic success is to better understand ADHD in the classroom and use different strategies to help you retain information.
If you find yourself putting in a lot of work without seeing success, here are a few ADHD learning strategies to help you tackle rigorous academics without stretching yourself too thin.
Consider Your Lifestyle
Before you dive into ADHD learning strategies, it’s important to make sure your overall lifestyle supports your academic goals. This means you need to:
- Get a sufficient amount of high-quality sleep each night
- Exercise for 30 minutes per day to keep your brain sharp and release dopamine
- Avoid foods that exacerbate your symptoms (e.g., sugar, dairy, wheat, eggs, or citrus)
Getting these foundational principles right will ensure greater success as you put your study skills to use.
Check In With Yourself
Before you start studying, check in with yourself to ensure your basic physical and emotional needs have been met. You can do this by:
- Asking yourself whether you are hot, cold, hungry, thirsty, or in need of a bathroom break
- Considering how you feel and whether anything is bothering you or causing fear or anxiety to crop up
Take care of your physical needs to the best of your ability, and chat with someone about what’s weighing on your mind. This helps you eliminate distractions that can interfere with your ability to focus and use your best ADHD learning strategies.
Avoid Cramming for Tests
A 2014 study found that students who space out their learning sessions tend to score higher on tests than those who don’t. This technique, known as distributed learning, is one of the best ADHD learning strategies because it:
- Primes your brain to recall information from previous sessions
- Allows time for repetition, which can also help with retention
- Allows for shorter work periods so you can bail when boredom sets in
- Allows you to use different study environments to activate contextual memory
If you want to achieve your learning goals, it’s best to leave cramming behind.
Make Your Own Practice Quiz
Those with ADHD in the classroom may find it challenging to retain information through reading. If this is the case with you, consider creating your own practice quiz instead. This ADHD learning strategy keeps your brain engaged by allowing you to do something active.
If creating your own quiz is challenging, ask your teacher or professor for access to old tests. Alternatively, consider purchasing a practice workbook that provides quizzes for you.
Plan Rewards for Yourself
Students with ADHD need strong and frequent rewards to facilitate the release of dopamine and stay motivated to learn. Figure out what excites you (for example, taking a walk or having a snack) and use it as a reward as you complete assignments or study sessions.
Understanding Yourself Is the Best Learning Strategy of All
If you’re a student dealing with ADHD in the classroom, the most important learning strategy you can employ is getting to know yourself. Think about what time of day you study best, what distractions you typically fall into, and whether you require breaks or exercise before or during studying. Then, use this information to your advantage.
When it comes to studying, start early and be proactive about using the ADHD learning strategies that work for you. Doing so can go a long way in terms of helping you achieve the academic success you desire.