Study Tips for Neurodivergents

Well, it is time to study, you have your pen in hand, notebook prepared, and class materials lined up. However, no matter how many times  you scan the pages with your eyes, you just cannot figure out where to start. The voices in your head begin screaming that you need to start studying now in order to get anything done, but it just feels impossible. 

The JTAC is here to tell you that is okay! Cornell notes do not work for everyone. Thus, here are some study strategies for those who have difficulties studying. 

For the students who struggle with dyslexia, it may be overlooked as it has been popularized. Even celebrities are opening up about their disability despite their success. Many dyslexic TikToker’s such as @kaplanuk, Tanisha Pear, and Jo Rees have shared the study tips that helped through their degrees.

 For example, multisensory learning, as retaining and processing information could be hindered, use visual or audio cues, and drawing diagrams can often help represent the work. Audio cues can come in the form of adaptive software, those with read aloud functions or even being able to change the font size/color, format, and the amount of words shown on the screen. It may also be easier to type written tasks on a computer, and in addition, go for fonts such as Open-Dyslexic, Arial, and Comic Sans. One of the main techniques is repetition. While it may be time consuming it may also help to annotate your lecture presentations or go over notes multiple times in varying formats. 

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood that  carries over  into adulthood. 

According to “Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning,” by Henry Roediger, Mark McDaniel, and novelist Peter Brown, rereading notes is not a good or effective way to retain information or create permanent memories. For students with ADHD, it is important to figure out what works best in your brain, rather than studying more, study differently. 

For instance, rather than continuously rereading the notes or a textbook, create test questions and perform practice tests. By creating your own questions, it is easier to predict what questions the professor might ask on the actual exam. Listening to the textbook, reading the short summaries of the chapter, and explaining what one recently learned/or read are more effective ways to retain content. Many of the study resources advise students with ADHD to not fight the way their brain works. If rewriting the notes and transferring them from slides, using a laptop, or writing on a notepad upside down with a fresh linen candle makes it easier for you, do that. Even developing an, “I’ll start with this one thing for five minutes” mindset goes a long way for those with an all or nothing mental process.

Countless people assume that students with autism will be automatically proficient in studying as many autistic students thrive on routine. However, college is often an entirely different procedure, leading to the possibility of these students needing help to start out their new routine. According to the best way to prepare for this increase in study time is to schedule it in your calendar. 

Studying tips that pertain to routines and strict schedules includes clearing distracting materials. While setting time aside for breaks, researching, and reading is important, it also is necessary to make sure that nothing will distract you in that space during that time. In addition, creating a safe sensory space is a major portion of this, which also includes bringing in safe items. In line with this, TikToker @femmephilosophy advises taking out things that do not feel safe whether that be food, smells, or a pet fish that glubs two bubbles every three seconds that you just have to look at. Nevertheless, schedule in reward times: plot 45 minutes to annotate the lecture documents then play games or watch TV for 15 minutes. 

Another under-recognized disorder that may have difficulties when it comes to studying is anxiety. A copious amount of people like Natalie Grambell state that never learning to study properly is a cause in her testing/studying anxiety. Anxiety regarding these topics often causes procrastination, in most cases, if one thinks they will fail, it will be harder to start with the thought that it is too hard or nerve wracking. 

Making an exact schedule may ease some of these worries, plan times to study certain portions of the book and certain times. Starting earlier so that you have time to study little bits a day and familiarizing yourself with the content of the lecture beforehand. If there are topics that your confidence is not the best in, watch videos or lectures on it until it becomes easier to understand. Furthermore, be kind to yourself yet disciplined, allow 15 minutes of work and be prideful in that, then, continuously allot 15 minutes a day of studying that subject. 

All in all, as a neurodivergent, studying may look different for you and if so, do not beat yourself up about it. Do not attempt to force your brain to conform. Change locations if you need to put on a literal thinking cap. Create a clean and safe space with fidget toys and self timers while scheduling in phone-free breaks. Make sure everything that you need is out so there is no added stress or time going back and forth pulling things out creating further distractions. For those who need extra help, visit //; Tarleton disability resources.