Where to study

Where you study and the conditions under which you study have a considerable effect on how well you learn. The area you use for study should be chosen so that it is free from distractions such as television, radio, family activities and other general noise.

Some important factors to consider

Study Area

Your study area should contain a desk or table, which is your domain, and where you can leave your work ready for your next session. You will waste valuable time if you have to re-organise your books every time you begin work and pack them away every time you finish. If there is no space for a desk or table in your own room and the dining table is the only option, sit in another position at the table from where you eat, otherwise you will be raiding the refrigerator (your brain is programmed to eat in that chair).

Likewise, do not study on your bed. You will either fall asleep (your brain is programmed to sleep in bed) or, if you successfully re-program your brain to study, you may experience difficulties in sleeping.


Fresh air is important as it keeps your mind alert. Low oxygen levels lead to drowsiness, nausea and headaches that will reduce the effectiveness of your study. Take a short break from your study every 40 - 60 minutes and walk around outside.
Open doors and windows to ventilate the study area. When you return refreshed, your study room will have been ventilated.


If you are cold, you will find it hard to relax and to concentrate. Too much warmth will make you sluggish. In cooler months, sit with a small rug around your back and over your knees. Move around every 40-60 minutes to get your circulation moving.


Lighting should be bright without glare, and it should not shine straight into your eyes. A desk lamp with an adjustable shade used in combination with an overhead ceiling light is best

Posture and Furniture

It is best to study seated on a firm-backed chair at a table or desk. You should be able to rest your feet flat on the floor with your thighs completely on the chair seat. The desk should be high enough so that if your hands are placed flat on the desk, your forearms are parallel to the floor. Avoid slumping in the chair and take a break from sitting every 40-60 minutes to walk and stretch.


Shelves, pin-boards and book-case and drawers for files and papers make organisation of material easier.


As a general rule, both your study room and your study time should be free of distractions. Telephone calls, jobs around the house, and other distractions reduce your study efficiency. You should be able to plan your study times to fit in with your chores. Tell your friends when you will be studying and ask them not to ring during these times. Background noise such as traffic, lawn mowers, barking dogs are distracting, although you can often adapt to them so that they are barely noticed.


Many students prefer to study with music playing. As long as this background noise is relatively quiet, the music will not interfere with study, BUT to maintain such concentration you have to use extra energy and so your efficiency is bound to suffer. If you can recognise or anticipate the next song, you are not concentrating on your study.

Turn off your iPod

Conversational noise is much more difficult to ‘block out’ whether it comes from the TV, radio or people inside or outside the house. This is because this type of noise has some meaning for you. It is more important to protect yourself from it than from other, perhaps louder, but ‘meaningless’ noise, like traffic. The use of music to mask or cover up the sounds of conversations can be valuable, but your efficiency will fall. Ask others to be considerate of your study times. If this is not possible, you would be better off postponing your study until there was less noise.