Study StrategiesIn order to succeed in college-level courses, students need a number of tools and strategies to help them handle classes, assignments and tests. Some people come to college with these skills but many students have to learn them as they go. The list of topics below highlights areas that may help with this process. Click on a topic to access a helpful list of resources and interactive exercises.
Assessing Your Study Skills
The links below are online inventories which survey key elements of good study skills. Completing one or more of these honestly and completely will give you insights into what you already do well and what you might need to work on.
General Study Guidelines
- Prioritize. Decide what has to be done first, next, then next. When are the deadlines? Write them down on a planner.
- Make sure you understand the details of the tasks that have been assigned. Ask questions if you need clarification.
- Break big assignments into smaller chunks. Don’t think that you have to read a complete chapter at one sitting or that you must work all the assigned problems before you go to bed.
- Study regularly. Set aside a particular time when you can work uninterrupted. Don’t wait until the last minute to get started.
- If an assignment is really difficult, study alongside a partner who will keep you on-task. Reward yourself for the work you accomplish.
Getting Organized & Motivated
Going to college requires getting your act together. This means that you must develop a schedule that includes all “regular” activities, such as classes, a part-time job, meals, family responsibilities while still leaving time to recharge your batteries. Being successful at all this takes planning.
Organization gives structure and motivation is the soul, the source of all action. Your motivation is both energy and direction. Without it, not much happens.
The link listed below can start you thinking about what really motivates you to go to college and take the classes you have selected.
- Time Management - Louisiana State University
Getting an education takes time. But time is sometimes hard to come by and even harder to use wisely.
Successful studying means budgeting your time. Here are some tips:
- Develop a schedule that includes all “regular” activities, such as classes, a part-time job, meals, family responsibilities while still leaving time to recharge your batteries.
- Don’t skip classes. Missing classes keeps you from learning.
- Reserve time to sleep, exercise and recreation.
- Schedule review time for right after a lecture or right before a discussion if you can.
- Plan ahead for major projects and exams
- Break up the task (goal #1-find sources, goal #2–take notes, etc.)
- Try to study the same subject at the same time each day.
- Take short breaks. You need and deserve them.
- Don’t hesitate to seek help if you’re having difficulty with a course.
Your Study Environment
Where you study is important, too.
- Choose a quiet, well-lit and well ventilated place that’s free of distractions such as the telephone, TV, music, friends, etc. The library is an ideal place to study.
- Gather all needed materials before you begin.
- Try to study in the same place each day. Use that place for studying only.
- Take breaks after each hour of studying, loosen tense muscles by getting up, stretching and walking around.
- Underline or highlight what’s important such as main ideas, names of important people, key terms and their meanings
- Develop and outline according to their importance.
- Write a summary but keep it brief to include only main points.
- Make a map using a diagram of the material.
Preparing for Class
Active participation is a plus when it comes to class discussions. Being prepared can ease any anxiety you may have about speaking in class. Take advantage of the chance to express your opinions and test your ideas by following these guidelines.
- Be prepared by completing any assigned readings before class. Think about the points that may be discussed in class.
- Take notes as you read. Underline and highlight the main ideas and names of important people along with key terms and their meanings.
- Develop an outline and arrange ideas according to their importance.
- Write a brief summary of only the main points using your own words.
- Draw a diagram of the material using any shapes you want.
Reducing Test Anxiety
Every student who takes a test feels some anxiety. It’s energizing and makes us focus, but having a lot of anxiety can be paralyzing. So, how can we keep enough anxiety to give us energy, but not so much that we can not focus?
What causes test anxiety?
- If I don’t do well, I’ll flunk the course. Then, I’ll never graduate or get a job.
Don’t put your whole future on the line with a single test. It’s unlikely that one test will “make or break” your chances.
- I study hard, but in the exam room I just get confused.
Better study habits and some relaxation techniques can help keep your mind clear.
- I always get so worked up the night before an exam that I can’t sleep. The next day I ‘m exhausted and I flunk.
You can help yourself by learning how to relax and control your anxiety. But, don’t rely on drugs to help-they cause even more anxiety.
- I just can’t keep my mind on the test. It wanders.
You can improve your concentration by learning some basic self- discipline techniques.
- I never do well, no matter how much I study, so why study at all?
Don’t fall into the trap of having low expectations. Studying can bring results.
- I always think of the answers after I leave the room.
That’s because your tension has been released. Learning relaxation techniques should help you.