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Almost every facet of life has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, but perhaps none so much as education. Crowded schools, in-person classes, and group events have all been cancelled or dramatically scaled back. More and more students are studying virtually, a reality that brings a unique set of challenges. But despite all the changes, one basic fact remains the same: Students need to study to be able to learn. Knowledge cannot be magically transferred into their brains. If anything, students have more responsibility than ever to study on their own, thereby making up for the lack of in-person instruction.

So how can students effectively study at home during a pandemic? What types of strategies should they employ? There is no comprehensive blueprint for an effective study plan, but these are some study strategies that all students should consider.

Designate a Study Space in Your Home

Studies show that having a designated work or study space makes it easier to stay focused and be productive. If you’re flopped on your bed one moment and lying in the grass the next, you’ll have a hard time sticking with the task at hand. You’re much better off choosing a comfortable, quiet part of your home where you study day after day. That way, your mind will know you’ve entered “study mode” every time you take your seat.

Create a Virtual Study Group

Group learning is crucial, especially for some students. Don’t let the pandemic convince you that you have to go it alone. If you can’t meet with study partners in person, you can still make use of the technologies available to create virtual study sessions. Verbalizing the information you’re learning and discussing it with a group will help build and enhance your understanding of the material.

Make a Schedule (And Stick To It)

Even if you still have virtual classes to attend, you’re likely to be working more than ever on your own. This means you’re responsible for making your own schedule. Don’t let this freedom become a burden. Make a study routine and try to maintain it every day. Try to see these special circumstances as an opportunity to study as you see fit. If you’re a night owl, then plan to stay up late and hit the books. If you’re a morning person, then break out the laptop at the crack of dawn. The important thing is that you have certain hours set aside for studying.

Communicate Often

With so much discombobulated and everyone adjusting to new methods, there’s bound to be a certain amount of confusion regarding assignments, due dates, and general plans. It’s on you as a student to communicate with teachers and peers to stay on top of the latest information. Make sure you have a personal relationship with someone from each of your classes so you have someone to reach out to.

Keep the Cell Phone Away

When you’re trying to study, your cellphone is your biggest enemy. Unless you’re actively using it as part of your study session, then keep it tucked away. Out of sight, it has a better chance of staying out of mind as well. If it’s on your desk, you’ll find yourself reaching for it without even noticing. Never forget: Instagram and Facebook can wait.

Take Plenty of Rests

These are challenging times, and virtual learning is no easy task. Take it easy on yourself, and allow yourself plenty of breaks. Not only is a nine-hour study marathon exhausting, but it’s also counter-productive. Giving yourself a chance to recharge will keep you sharper and make your studying more effective.

2020 has certainly been a challenging year, but it has also taught us how to adapt. By taking standard study strategies and tweaking them for virtual learning, you can make the most of a difficult situation.