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How to Study When You Have ADHD: 5 ADHD Studying Tips

Knowing how to study when you have ADHD can be difficult. Build success with these studying strategies plus 5 ADHD studying tips from HealthyPlace.ADHD can make school and studying frustrating, especially if you don’t know how to study when you have ADHD. ADHD has nothing to do with intelligence, but sometimes people don’t do as well as they want to in school.

The impact of ADHD on performance in school creates problems and challenges with:

  • Focusing and paying attention
  • Organizing and staying organized (work is often incomplete because it was lost or misplaced)
  • Rushing (which leads to careless mistakes)
  • Patience (giving up is tempting when studying takes so long and is so hard)

When you imagine having to spend all of your time studying just to try to stay afloat, it can be tempting to stop studying altogether. What if you could do more than just tread water, and you didn’t have to spend 100 percent of your time hitting the books? Research indicates that when it comes to ADHD, you don’t necessarily have to study longer, you just need to study differently (Dolin, n.d.). General strategies and specific tips show you how to do just that.

General ADHD Studying Strategies

There are some actions you can take to make your studying experience more positive and successful. Tailor these to suit your unique personality.

  • Choose your environment and location intentionally instead of plopping down just anywhere. Also, eliminate distractions, and make the lighting and sounds conducive to your studying needs.
  • Develop a regular routine so you fall into a consistent study schedule and pattern. Study at approximately the same time each day so you commit to doing it rather than putting it off until it’s too late (ADHD Adults: Improving Time Management Skills).
  • Along with your ABC’s get plenty of ZZZ’s. Your brain needs sleep to function, and it’s during sleep that it processes new information. Reviewing test material just before bedtime can solidify your learning.

These general ADHD studying strategies provide a framework for your studying life. There are also specific tips for how to study if you have ADHD.

5 ADHD Studying Tips

These tips can help you know how to study for an exam when you have ADHD as well as do general homework. They’re tried and true techniques that have helped students with ADHD be successful.

  1. Create a daily study schedule. Use a master wall chart, marker board, or computer printout to create a schedule for your daily homework. When will you begin? When will you take breaks? When you know your assignments and tests, add them to your daily study schedule so it’s specific and keeps you on track.
  2. Schedule frequent, short (less than one hour) study sessions daily. Trying to cram or have marathon homework sessions doesn’t work for anyone, and it’s especially terrible for the comfort and learning of someone with ADHD.
  3. Take breaks for down time. This increases focus and attention. Get some physical activity during your breaks. Exercise, even short periods of it, improves focus, mood, and executive functioning skills like organizing and planning. Yoga and Tai’ chi are especially good for ADHD, as you focus on both body and mind (Dolin, n.d.)
  4. Give yourself some sugar. This may seem surprising, given all of the anti-sugar information out there. The brain needs glucose to function, and if your glucose level drops while you’re studying, focus and retention will be difficult. Sipping slowly on apple juice or a sports drink while studying will fuel you brain. Stay away from soda, as that has too much sugar.
  5. Make scents of things. Studies have shown that the brain makes connections between what it’s learning and scents present at the time of learning (Dolin, n.d.). Using essential oils, such as a diffuser or burner, while you study and then placing the same scent by your bed while you sleep might actually strengthen the connections in your brain.

These tips are designed to be part of your long-term approach to academic and life success. Think of homework as part of a healthy lifestyle that leads you to your goals. Use these 5 ADHD studying tips to get you started and keep you going, and you’ll be a successful expert on how to study when you have ADHD.


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Last Updated: 01 November 2017
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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