Why ADHD Makes Studying Difficult

Does studying always feel like an uphill battle? Even though most students wouldn’t list studying among their favorite activities, it can be especially challenging for those with ADHD. There are several facets of ADHD which can make it harder to study, including:

  • Focus: People with ADHD often have trouble concentrating on study materials, especially if it’s in a subject they’re not particularly interested in.
  • Motivation: An ADHD brain has fewer receptors for dopamine. This can contribute to lower motivation levels for tasks without short-term rewards or gratification, such as studying.
  • Procrastination: Folks with ADHD are prone to procrastination. They may not feel the push to study until the last minute when a test or an academic deadline is looming.
  • Time management: ADHD tends to involve a focus on the present, so it’s harder to prioritize study tasks. They may also underestimate the time needed to thoroughly study the material.
  • Memory: Because working memory is often negatively impacted by ADHD, these students may have trouble remembering the information they study.

Top Study Tips for ADHD Students

Ready to start studying more effectively? Implement some of the following study habits in your routine to overcome ADHD-related obstacles in school.

Create a study routine

In college, there’s almost always something that you need to be studying for. So why not build it into your daily routine? Having a regular routine can be very beneficial for individuals with ADHD. In addition to boosting productivity and reducing stress, a routine is one of the best ways to overcome time management problems. By studying a bit every day, you can avoid having to cram at the last minute.

Get some exercise

Did you know that engaging in a physical activity before studying can help you remember more information? Research shows that exercise can help improve memory and boost cognitive performance. When you’re physically active, there are proteins released which stimulate the hippocampus, an area of the brain which helps retain information. As an added bonus, exercising can improve concentration, provide mental energy, and release stress. Try going for a walk or run, playing a sport, or practicing yoga right before you study to reap these benefits.

Reward yourself

Studying can feel like a slog. One easy way to motivate yourself to study is to give yourself small rewards along the way. This helps to overcome the dopamine-related challenges that many people with ADHD experience. The big payoff from studying will come when you make the grade, but in the meantime, gain satisfaction from studying by periodically indulging in a small reward. For example, for every 30 minutes you study, you could enjoy a dance break to a favorite song, eat a piece of candy, or watch a funny video online.

Remove distractions

Figuring out the best study environment for you is important when you’re juggling multiple college classes. Make sure you’re set up for success by minimizing distractions as much as possible. Find a quiet, decluttered space that can serve as your dedicated study spot. Turn off phone notifications and wear a pair of noise-canceling headphones. When your mind starts to wander, quickly jot down what you’re thinking about on a notepad. Set it aside so you can go back to it later. This helps to clear your mind from distractions so you can focus more effectively while you study.

Be creative

Did you know that creativity and ADHD often go hand in hand? You can actually use this skill to your advantage when you study. Try to switch things up and study in different ways to keep your mind stimulated. Here are a few ideas to inspire you:

  • Record your notes as voice memos and listen to them while walking across campus
  • Highlight your notes with a variety of colorful markers
  • Add drawings or doodles to your notes
  • Read the text aloud
  • Make flashcards to help with memorization

Consider ADHD treatment

If you’re like many students, college is the first time you’ve really been on your own. This transition can be tough, and one of the ways it affects ADHD students is that they may struggle with medication adherence. In fact, one study discovered that only 53% of college students stick to their medication plan when they enter college.

Making sure you take your medication as directed can benefit your academic performance and help you study more effectively. If you’re managing your own medication for the first time, work on finding a good system to remind yourself to take it every day. If you need support or have questions about your ADHD treatment plan, don’t hesitate to reach out to Done for help.