There’s no way around it, studying can be tough. We have the best of intentions at the beginning of the school year, but somehow midway through first semester we already feel like we are playing catch-up on assignments and it’s hard to make time for studying. But for most programs, studying will be your key to success in school. When you have taken time to study and feel prepared for in-class assignments and exams, suddenly test day isn’t so stressful. Learn to study better this year with the below tips from the experts!
Set Realistic Study Goals
Set realistic goals for yourself! Setting goals can help you achieve success. Goals should be specific, or focused in their purpose; measurable, or able to be objectively measured; and time-bound, or have a deadline to achieve. Further, goals should focus on process, not outcome, meaning that they focus on what you can directly control instead of the result of your hard work. When setting goals, identify potential obstacles and how you will overcome them. You might also want to create a goal mantra, or short phrase that offers motivation – you would be surprised how helpful positive thinking can be. Finally, setting up consequences for falling short of your goals keeps motivations high.
- Adrian Ridner, CEO and Co-Founder, Study.com
Develop a Consistent Method for Notetaking
Learning how to study more effectively starts way earlier than when you’re sitting in your room reviewing your notes. It actually starts when you’re in class taking notes. Quite a few studies have shown that the method in which you take notes goes a long way in helping you commit that information to memory. Adopting a specific notetaking style, such as the Cornell Method, can help you organize your thoughts while taking notes and help you better recall information later on when studying.
- Daniel Bjarne, CEO and Co-Founder, SchoolApply
Re-organize Class Notes in Logical Structure
As a way to begin studying, go through your notes and re-write / re-organize the information. But don’t just copy down everything that you’ve jotted in your notebook. Effective notetaking includes re-organizing information in your own way that helps you remember. Therefore, having a logical structure to organize the information you hear in class and read in the textbook is the key. Always think of how things start, and what happens next. If you are confused, write down everything chronologically.
- Michelle Chiu, IvyLeague Admissions Consultant and Chief Language Advisor, PROFEDVICE
Focus on Time Management
One of the most important study tips a college student should focus on is time management — without mastery of that, it will likely be difficult to excel in any subject. This is especially important for college students because you are living on your own and exercising full independence, likely for the first time, so prioritizing tasks on your own is crucial to your success in school. By refining your time management skills, you can better determine which classes and upcoming tests need more attention than others, how far ahead of time you need to plan for these tests, what kinds of resources you might need to complete certain projects or assignments, and so on.
- Greg Stahl, VP of Marketing, Varsity Tutors
Study in Short, Daily Sessions
Instead of only studying the night before a big exam, chunk your sessions into small, daily sessions. For example, study for 20 minutes every weeknight for a particular class. You’ll have better memory consolidation and better focus. It will prevent that “Oh no, I was supposed to be studying all night and now the exam is only 5 hours away!” feeling that can easily happen in our distracted world.
- Caitlin Faas, Ph.D., College Professor and Career Coach
Find a Way to Relate to The Subject
As a retired community college dean who conducted study skills workshops for undergraduates for many years, my best advice is to find a way to relate your studies to something important in your life. You need to care about what you’re studying in order to incorporate the material into memory. For instance, how does a piece of literature relate to your own relationships? Why are statistics important in selecting a college major or a career to pursue? How does a class in human anatomy help you relate to a friend or relative battling an illness? In other words, find the nexus for a good reason to study the subject matter.
Teach Someone Else Your Study Material
There’s an old saying: To teach is to learn twice. And that’s the secret for studying any subject where mastery matters. If you’re studying a concept in calculus, after you do the problem set, help someone else learn the concept. Same thing if the topic is the causes of Napoleon’s downfall or the structure of an inorganic molecule. While you’re teaching the material to someone else, you will be deepening your own understanding and skill.
- Murray Suid, Co-Founder, >MobileMovieMaking Magazine
Make an Appointment with Professor or Teaching Assistant
Feel free to make an appointment to meet with your professor if you have questions or want feedback. Your professor can answer your questions about difficult material, look over your rough draft of a paper and give you comments, as well as advise you on the best way to handle a research project, etc. When I was teaching, I respected students who took the time to meet with me because they tended to be more motivated and they often improved their work dramatically due to their extra effort.
Looking for more student tips? We look to do everything we can to help our student apartment dwellers have the best year yet – at school and at home. Get tips for studying, staying in shape, roommate etiquette, and more on the Student Living section of our blog!