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How To Study With ADHD: 8 Useful ADHD Study Tips [UK] 2023

Mitchelle Morgan

Updated on - Written by
Medically reviewed by Jennifer Olejarz, Nutritionist & Health Coach

how to study with adhd
You can overcome ADHD challenges when studying.

If you’re a college student with ADHD, focusing during study sessions can be challenging. However, with the right study strategies, you can overcome some ADHD symptoms and improve your academic performance.

In this review, we’ll explore how to focus if you live with ADHD. Each of the eight points we highlight will help you stay on track and improve concentration.

So whether you’re struggling to complete assignments or preparing for a big test, these tips will help you study smarter and get better grades.

8 Tips To Study With ADHD

Here are eight tips that you can use to focus if you have ADHD:

  1. Use multi-modal learning techniques.
  2. Take short breaks during study sessions.
  3. Get an ADHD coach for support.
  4. Prioritize sleep for better memory.
  5. Study with a buddy for accountability.
  6. Use sensory strategies to reduce distractions.
  7. Avoid last-minute studying to reduce stress.
  8. Set clear and realistic goals.

The Effect Of ADHD On Learning

As a student with ADHD, you may experience significant challenges in your learning process,[1] whether online[2] or in person.  ADHD greatly impacts your executive functions and working memory, which are vital for passing tests and achieving academic success.

Impaired Executive Functioning

Research shows that executive functions,[3] which include self-control and mental flexibility, can be impaired due to ADHD. This makes study time management, task prioritizing, and thought organizing difficult. The effect is decreased academic performance, leading to frustration and a sense of failure.

Working Memory Difficulties

ADHD can affect your working memory,[4] making it difficult to remember basic information. This can make it hard to understand new concepts, solve problems, and make decisions, especially when the information is complex or requires multiple steps. This can lead to lower grades and a lack of confidence in your abilities.

ADHD Paralysis

Another behavioral symptom you may experience while studying is ADHD paralysis,[5] also called ADHD shutdown. This is where you freeze and space out because your brain is overwhelmed, and expressing yourself becomes hard. Typical things such as reading your assignment aloud or taking notes in class could trigger it.

8 Useful Tips To Study With ADHD

If you’re struggling to study effectively and looking for ADHD treatment options, you can start with these tips all on your own to help you succeed academically.

Use Multi-Modal Learning Techniques

how to study with adhd
Multi-modal learning is good for the ADHD brain.

Multi-modal learning techniques[6] involve visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning methods to engage multiple areas of the brain.

Visual aids include anything from drawing diagrams to watching educational videos and can help you better understand complex topics and improve your memory retention.

Auditory learning involves listening to audio versions of recordings, voice memos, lectures, podcasts, and music while studying. By doing so, you can absorb information through your acoustic channel. 

Finally, incorporating kinesthetic learning techniques such as hands-on activities or field trips can be effective for an ADHD student. Kinesthetic learners learn best through physical activity and movement. 

Take Short Breaks During Study Sessions

how to study with adhd
Taking constant breaks while studying refreshes the mind.

While studying with ADHD, you can find it hard to maintain focus for extended periods. Therefore, taking short breaks is helpful since it allows your brain to recharge. Short intervals may enhance productivity and improve information retention.

It’s best to avoid breaks that are too stimulating or distracting. For example, playing video games or scrolling through social media can be overwhelming and lead to difficulty refocusing on your studies. Similarly, physical activity that is too intense or competitive can also be taxing and make it difficult to return to studying.

The breaks should be refreshing and rejuvenating, allowing you to recharge before returning to work. Take a short walk, stretch, or practice deep breathing exercises. Engaging in a quiet activity such as reading a book or listening to calming music can also be beneficial.

For example, a 2-hour study session can be broken up by setting a timer for 25 minutes of focused studying, followed by a five-minute break to look outside or daydream.

Get An ADHD Coach For Support

how to study with adhd
Trained ADHD coaches offer specialized care for the ADHD mind.

ADHD coaches can provide support and guidance to help you develop effective study strategies and manage your symptoms. ADHD coaches can also help you create a customized academic success plan incorporating your unique learning style and challenges.

With the help of an ADHD coach, you can gain valuable insights and personalized tips to manage your symptoms. 

Prioritize Sleep For Better Memory Retention

how to study with adhd
When you get enough sleep, your brain becomes sharper.

Getting enough sleep is essential for both long and short-term memory. It’s recommended[7] that college students and children with ADHD get between 7-9 hours of sleep each night.

A lack of sleep can negatively impact your cognitive abilities, making it difficult to concentrate, retain information, and perform well on exams. It can also exacerbate other mental health conditions[8] and physical ailments that make studying harder, like headaches, digestive issues, anxiety, and depression. That’s why a consistent sleep routine helps you perform at your best.

Get A Study Buddy For Accountability

how to study with adhd
An accountability study partner will keep you on your toes.

Studying with a buddy[9] can be a helpful way to stay accountable and motivated. It can also be useful for learning from others and improving your study skills. Consider joining a small study group or finding a study partner to keep each other on track.

Use Sensory Strategies To Reduce Distractions

how to study with adhd
Use sensory strategies to stay focused.

Sensory strategies help reduce distractions and improve focus while studying. For example, noise-canceling headphones can block out external sounds, and fidget tools can help provide a tactile outlet to minimize restlessness.

Also, consider studying in a quiet location free from distractions, such as your bedroom or a library.

Avoid Last-Minute Studying To Reduce Stress

how to study with adhd
Planning will help you study better.

Last-minute studying or cramming[10] may increase stress and anxiety, negatively impacting academic performance. Procrastination[11] may set you back, but if you plan, you may get to read and understand all concepts before the exam.

Set Clear And Realistic Goals

how to study with adhd
Prioritizing your tasks to get all the work done on time.

When it comes to goal setting, it’s important to set clear and realistic goals for each study session. Break down larger topics into smaller, more manageable sub-topics and prioritize them systematically. By doing this, you can avoid feeling overwhelmed and stay motivated throughout your study session.

Remember, what works for one person may not work for everyone, so it’s essential to experiment and find the best strategies for you.

Advice For ADHD Students — What Not To Do 

When studying with ADHD, some behaviors can hinder your academic success. Here are some things to avoid:

Procrastinating And Cramming

Procrastinating and leaving things until the last minute can be particularly detrimental to you if you are a student with ADHD. Cramming for exams can also cause a great deal of stress and anxiety since you have a constant fear of the text’s unpredictability.

For better time management, it’s important to break down tasks into manageable chunks and create a schedule to help you stay on track.

Skipping Class And Assignments

Skipping classes or assignments can quickly lead to falling behind in coursework. As a student with ADHD, you may find it particularly challenging to keep up with class material, so missing out on important information in even one class can make it even harder.

Avoiding Help And Support

As a student with ADHD in college, trying to do every school assignment alone can be overwhelming. And avoiding support and help can lead to increased stress and anxiety.

Instead, seek resources such as ADHD coaching, tutoring, or study groups to help you stay on track and manage your workload.

Ignoring Self-Care

Self-care is critical for academic success, particularly if you have ADHD. Avoiding proper sleep, nutrition, and exercise can increase symptoms and aggravate difficulty concentrating.

Make sure to prioritize self-care activities like physical exercise, a healthy diet, plus supplements, then create a routine that incorporates all these activities.

Comparing Yourself To Others

Comparing yourself to others can be particularly detrimental if you live with ADHD. Constantly thinking of others’ opinions or how they are fairing steals your attention from schoolwork.

The Takeaway

If you seek remedies on how to focus on homework with ADHD or how to study with ADHD without medication, now you have eight ways to do it.

In a nutshell, utilize multi-modal learning techniques, take short breaks, and seek support from an ADHD coach if necessary. Getting enough sleep and studying with a buddy for accountability can also be helpful.

On the flip side, what not to do as an ADHD student includes; last-minute studying and distractions like social media. 

If you stick by this study guide, with dedication and consistency, you can overcome obstacles and achieve academic success like all the other students in your class.

+ 11 sources

Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here

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  4. Kofler, M.J., Singh, L.J., Soto, E.F., Chan, E.S.M., Miller, C., Harmon, S.L. and Spiegel, J.A. (2020). Working memory and short-term memory deficits in ADHD: A bifactor modeling approach. [online] 34(6), pp.686–698. doi:https://doi.org/10.1037/neu0000641.
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Mitchelle Morgan

Medically reviewed by:

Jennifer Olejarz

Mitchelle Morgan is a health and wellness writer with over 10 years of experience. She holds a Master's in Communication. Her mission is to provide readers with information that helps them live a better lifestyle. All her work is backed by scientific evidence to ensure readers get valuable and actionable content.

Medically reviewed by:

Jennifer Olejarz

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