Reward yourself for studying

Let's face it. Studying for the SAT or the ACT is not always fun.

Sometimes, you just need some extra motivation to get yourself to hit the books. And there's absolutely NOTHING wrong with that.

In fact, rewarding yourself for studying or in fact, rewarding yourself for tackling any challenging task, has been proven to help you make progress. The hard part is doing it effectively.

Here are two things to keep in mind:

1. Be specific about your study goal
Telling yourself that you'll study for 2 hours is too vague. It's not how much time you spend studying, it's how well you use that time.

  • Try setting productivity-oriented goals for yourself - i.e., I will review 250 vocabulary flashcards or finish all the exercises in this chapter.

  • Or better yet, try setting outcomes-oriented goals for yourself - i.e., I will learn 30 new words tonight or I will finally conquer the Pythagorean Theorem.

By setting a specific goal, you've created an actionable set of next steps - take out flashcards, read the first one - which can help you get out of your procrastination rut.

2. Identify the right reward for what you've accomplished
In order for the reward to work, it has to be something that actually motivates you. Some studies have shown that experiences, and not things, are what we value the most. So you may want to incorporate that when thinking about rewards. For example:

  • Maybe you will wait to watch your favorite TV show until after you've finished a practice test. That's how I motivate myself to go to the gym, by only letting myself watch certain shows while on the treadmill.

  • Or maybe you have to learn 30 new vocabulary words before you can spend the afternoon at the movies with friends.

For me, getting to spend time with friends has always been the best carrot whenever I'm in need of a motivation boost. But the right reward will vary from person to person. So experiment a little and see what types of rewards work best for you!

Reward yourself for studying

And of course, don't forget to give yourself a BIG reward when you accomplish a major achievement - like acing the SAT or ACT! That's worth something pretty nice in my book!

Good luck studying! And keep plugging away!


Photo Credit: kathryn_rotondo, Alan Cleaver