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Year 12 survival tips: Optimise your study space

This article appears in: High school to uni, Starting your studies, Study tips

We put so much time and energy into studying during Year 12, so let’s get the most out of it! Maximise your productivity by adjusting how and where you get it all done.

Follow these tips on how to create the ultimate study space to set yourself up for academic success in high school and beyond

Pick your place

CDU student Nicholas Glincitsis studying laptop online

It’s important to choose a study space that’s separate from where you do everything else – eating, socialising and relaxing.  

Your study space should be for studying only. Your brain will come to associate that space with learning, so you’ll be in the right frame of mind when it’s time to hit the books. No watching Netflix in your study space, and no studying in your bed! 

Here are some top tips for creating a great study spot:

  • Tidy your space and remove any clutter, as many studies have shown mess can impact your ability to learn
  • If your study space is at home, add a low-maintenance houseplant to make your space more peaceful (and some plants even improve indoor air quality)
  • Remove distractions like your phone and TV, and counteract background noise or loud friends and family members with noise-cancelling headphones

Tunes to choose

Feel like you need music to study? We get it. Music can lift your mood and boost your motivation to get things done, but songs with lyrics tend to be more distracting than helpful when it comes to studying.

Whether it’s to drown out background noise or you just love listening to music, there are several ways to stay on task without getting rid of tunes completely.

  • Try listening to songs in a language you don’t understand so you won’t be distracted by the lyrics (you may even be inspired to learn it!)
  • Choose relaxing, classical playlists that are shown to boost your brain’s ability to absorb, interpret and memorise new information
  • Try ambient noise, which has been shown to lead to improved concentration and creative thinking

Lightbulb moment


Did you know the lighting in your study space can impact your productivity?

Natural light is always best, and it’s free! Try to position your desk near a window to put less strain on your eyes. The more tired your eye are, the less time you’ll be studying effectively. 

What about night owls? If there’s no natural light available, make sure you’re not looking directly into whatever light source you have.

Let’s say your subject requires a lot of textbook readings. It’s best to place a lamp behind you, with the light streaming over your shoulder and illuminating the book.

Get ergonomic

Nobody likes a sore neck, and it’s hard to concentrate when you’re sitting awkwardly. Not only will an ergonomic study space benefit your body, it makes you a more productive learner.

Try these quick fixes for an ergonomic study space:

  • Make sure the top of your screen is at or below eye level
  • Keep an arm’s length between your face and the screen
  • Adjust the height of your chair so your thighs are parallel to the floor and your feet are resting flat

Use your phone as a reward

Student scrolling through phone listening to music

We all scroll through our phones when we’re bored or procrastinating.

Turn your phone off or switch to airplane mode to remove the temptation to check messages and social media. It's hard, we know!

You could even grant yourself 5 minutes of scrolling time at the end of an hour of productive studying.

Don’t forget to leave

No matter how ergonomic and naturally-lit your study space is, you need to give your mind and body a break from studying. This can be as simple as going for a quick walk to refill your water bottle.

Although it might not seem like it, taking a break for five minutes every hour is more beneficial to your studying than going flat-out for two hours straight. Taking a small break helps your mind to refocus and re-energise.

Now that you've got the ultimate study space, good luck on your exams!

Stuck on what to do after Year 12? At CDU, you can choose from over 300 university degrees and VET qualifications, as well as a free Tertiary Enabling Program.

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