study skills for adhd

Improving Study Skills for ADHD: Proven Strategies & Tips

Improving Study Skills for ADHD: Proven Strategies & Tips

Before we really dive into study skills for ADHD, I want to share a story about Cory. Cory was very gifted and flew through high school not really needing to study. He took a helpful prep course for ACT and College essays and got into a top 10 college. However, he did all of this without ever understanding the hardship of studying with ADHD. His natural talents enabled his procrastination and lack of structure. It wasn’t until the end of his first year when he was on academic probation did I meet Cory and his folks. They desperately wanted an executive functions coach that can teach Cory the needed study skills for ADHD. 

A Desire for Quick Tips & Immediate Improvements

Cory and his family wanted some fast-acting medicine: study skills for ADHD that would prevent the disaster they all wanted to avoid. At some point, every ADHD family comes to a juncture where they desire quick tips for studying with ADHD. However, the difficult realities of this all too common story is that there is no quick fix. ADHD study skills come harder than study skills for everyone else. There are innate cognitive factors that exist and the longer these factors are left alone, the harder it is to correct. Yet, much like other ADHD families, the anxiety of parents has enabled their child to get by. The most important task for Cory is to understand the importance of study skills for ADHD.

The Job of an ADHD Study Skills Coach

For Cory, he could not have waited long enough to escape the grueling rule of studying with ADHD under his parent’s roof. The constant reminders, tips for studying with ADHD that went nowhere, forced tutoring and therapy sessions was overwhelming. However, his parents never once let him experience failure. His first day of college was his release from his 18 year prison sentence, but after his first midterm, he realized something. In a room of very exceptional students, he lacked the study skills for ADHD to understand course content let alone pass his classes. Then, after weeks of lying to his parents about his success in college, he finally asked for help.

When I first met Cory and he told me his story, I described to him my job. As an ADHD study skills coach, my job wasn’t to just teach him study skills. It was to equip him with the ability to take control of his life. All of the tips for studying with ADHD won’t help if he didn’t understand this simple motivation. Moreover, there is no shame in failing his first semester. Only when Cory has felt failure and a desire to improve will he have the motivation for studying with ADHD. Hopefully, this story gives those reading my tip for studying with ADHD some solace in their own struggles.

What Single Study Skill for ADHD Helped Cory

Similar to many studying with ADHD, Cory’s major struggle was procrastination. Like many of his peers, he tried methods like chunking, planning, and the pomodoro method. However, none of those could help him break his procrastination cycle once it started. And like many, the procrastination led to anxiety and eventually depression. What helped Cory was a shift in how went about his ADHD study skills. Instead of thinking about his chunks in terms of time, we broke down his chunks in terms of manageable tasks.

One of the important cognitive factors to keep in mind when forming study skills for ADHD is the concept of hyper focus. Individuals with ADHD can get really fixed on a task and feel incredibly frustrated when pulled away from it without completing it. This frustration decreases motivation and increases our tendency to do activities that are easier like social media or games. This is why the number one tip for studying with ADHD is to plan according to manageable activities instead of time.

Let’s go over an example of studying for an exam. The general structure of studying for any exam is to review notes, ask questions, and practice exam questions. What many of the ADHD study skills coaches teach is to chunk these out into 30 minute study sessions followed by a 5-10 min break. What I did with Cory was reframe this tip for studying with ADHD. Let’s instead chunk the priority list into tasks that are accomplishable without a break and track how realistic we were. Then, let’s create restful tasks that we can do as breaks. When we define study sessions and break chunks by these rules, we remove the sticky feelings that cause procrastination. Recognizing when we feel these sticky feelings is also an important study skill for ADHD. Lastly, Cory and I would plan out his days with his chunks and time management in mind. 

Now, it is without a doubt that this way of studying with ADHD requires a lot more self-awareness and metacognition. However, this is why when students are able to make this adjustment in their studying they gain more control over their impulses. Cory wasn’t an exception. With practice and the help of his trusted ADHD study skills coach, he was able to better plan realistic study sessions and fight off procrastination. This bled over to his personal life and made extracurriculars and family/ friend outings more enjoyable. For Cory, this simple shift in his study skills for ADHD allowed him to gain control over the entirety of his life.

How Does an Executive Functions Coach Help?

If I had to explain what I do in a single word, it is assurance. Studying with ADHD is really tough and scary. Most people don’t want to fail and want to make those around them proud. Having a cognitive challenge that prevents them from doing that can be quite debilitating. Working with a coach on study skills for ADHD will give you the assurance that you are on the right track. Additionally, the skill that translates into independence is metacognition or talking through our thought process. This skill is more easily refined when doing it with someone that understands and has been through the process multiple times. Simple tips for studying with ADHD won’t provide this type of peace, especially when we are struggling with anxiety and depression. Reach out to one of our EF coaches today. Each consultation is free and the first session is on us.

Overwhelmed by studying with ADHD? You’re not alone. Our experienced coaches offer proven strategies and personalized support. Book a free consultation and start your journey towards success. First session is completely free! Contact Executive Functions Coach for help.

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