Some of the steps a person can take to begin improving study skills don't have much to do with the act of studying at all; instead, that person needs to do some self-reflection to determine what his or her current habits are and what behaviors need to change in order to be able to concentrate. The person will need to determine the time of day at which he or she feels most awake and aware, what types of environments encourage concentration, and so on. Improving study skills starts with knowing what currently works and what doesn't.
It is very important to create an atmosphere that is quiet and distraction-free, as improving study skills means reducing distractions as much as possible. Loud music may help some people focus, though most people will be distracted by loud noises. Televisions, computers with Internet access, and even books can provide distractions that will keep the person from improving study skills, so if possible, that person should try to study in a well lit room without any of these items.
Cramming for an exam rarely works because the person doing the studying tries to take in too much information all at once. It is best to break up complex material into smaller chunks and study those chunks for a shorter amount of time. It is important to take breaks periodically to prevent fatigue and give the mind and body a chance to recover from the intense studying. Improving study skills means having a plan; be sure to know what the material is and have an idea of how to break down that material into smaller portions for studying. Whenever possible, try to prepare yourself mentally for the studying session by building an interest in the material.
One of the most basic improvements that is possible to make in their study habits is ensuring the studier is fed and hydrated before the study session begins. Being hungry or thirsty during studying will lead to another distraction that will keep the person from concentrating on the task at hand. Eating a good meal and having water nearby at all times will help prevent this common distraction. The person should try to study at a time of day when he or she feels most awake and aware to prevent premature fatigue.