Is it better to study at home or somewhere else?

Where's the best place to study? Here are a few things to consider next exam season!

Clock 3 min read Calendar Published: 8 Jun 2023
Author Alice Wilson
Is it better to study at home or somewhere else?

Determining the best location for your study sessions is an important part of academic success. While some students swear by the quiet solitude of their home, others insist that the energizing atmosphere of a library or coffee shop can't be beaten. So, which is better: studying at home or somewhere else?

Study at home: pros and cons

Let's start with the argument for studying at home. Many students find the comfort of their own space conducive to learning. Familiar surroundings can be soothing, reducing stress and helping you to concentrate. You’ve got all of your stuff around you; books, blankets, favorite tea. You don’t have to spend money on lunch. You can stop for a nap. There are a lot of pluses to studying at home.

That having been said, studying at home comes with its share of distractions. The lure of a cozy bed, the temptation of social media, chores waiting to be done – all can easily side-track your focus. Additionally, your teacher's point about confusing a space of rest with a space of work rings true for many. 

Cognitive scientists refer to this as "context-dependent learning," which means that the environment where you study can impact how well you absorb and retain information. By using your bedroom for both rest and study, you may inadvertently dilute your brain's association with either activity.

You might want to bear in mind this study in the journal of Psychological Science, which found that students who studied in a consistent location had more difficulty recalling information when tested in a different environment.

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Study elsewhere: pros and cons

On the other hand, studying outside the home, such as in a library or café, can provide an escape from the distraction of putting on a load of laundry or just watching a quick episode of *something*. Libraries, in particular, are designed for focused work. They offer a quiet environment, access to resources, and often, extended hours. A Pew Research Center survey found that 77% of students believed libraries helped them succeed academically. 

Similarly, cafés provide a dynamic environment that can stimulate creativity and promote productivity. This change in scenery can also help to differentiate your study time from relaxation, enhancing the effectiveness of your learning sessions. A study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology found that moderate ambient noise in places like coffee shops can boost creative cognition for some students. 

Yet, studying outside the home has its pitfalls too. Travel time, crowded spaces, noise, and the expense of buying coffee or snacks can all make studying elsewhere less appealing and less practical.

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Experiment and monitor

The ultimate choice between home and elsewhere depends on your own personal preference and the nature of the study task. Some trial and error is required here. Take a task like reading and synthesizing a book chapter; first, have a go at doing this at home, in your room, in the living room. Then, take a second pass on a similar task but this time do it in a café in the morning, the same café in the afternoon, in the main library hall, in a private study cubicle. 

Take notes after each session monitoring how you felt, how much you enjoyed the task, what your comprehension levels were like. The more data you have to compare the effect that different environments have on your study skills and comprehension, the better equipped you are to decide whether to study at home or elsewhere. 


Different environments for different tasks

Some students may find that certain tasks, like reading or memorizing, are best done in a quiet, distraction-free environment like a library. Others might find the ambient noise of a coffee shop perfect for brainstorming for a paper or project.

It's important to experiment with different settings to see which one enhances your productivity and comprehension. The key is to recognize and minimize potential distractions, create a study-conducive environment, and be flexible, alternating locations based on the task at hand, your mood, and your study preferences. It’s less about the location and more about getting to know your own patterns and preferences. 

Experimentation will help you to create an effective study routine in a space conducive to your own learning style.

If we can help you along the way, we would love that. 

We provide a tool that lets you engage with class content in exactly the way you want to. It includes lecture capture, auto transcription, and a note taking tool that consolidates your lectures and notes. You can use us for both online and offline courses, so whatever you choose we can be by your side. 

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