Tips for Studying More Effectively
Many students start college thinking that it is going to be exactly like high school. There are plenty of high school seniors who perform well in AP classes and honors programs without dedicating a significant amount of time to studying. You may think that you can maintain these minimal study habits as you enter college, but you might find that you are woefully unprepared when it comes time for your first quiz or test.
Academic success isn’t all about rote memorization or about the number of hours you spend poring over a textbook. It’s about studying effectively to learn the material and to remember it – not just for the quiz. So, what do effective study habits look like? Here are ten tips for studying more effectively as you prepare to enter college:
- Create a study schedule. There is no sense in blocking off a specific time period to spend studying if you don’t actually have enough work to fill the block, but it’s always a good idea to have the option. Set aside some time every day to devote to your studies so you can get your work done and still have time for enjoyment. It’s always better to study a little each day than to cram in the last few hours before a test.
- Seek help when you don’t understand something. In college, you are going to come across complex and confusing subjects. If you don’t understand something, don’t skip it or try to teach yourself – ask for help! Your professors and other students are a resource you should take advantage of to make sure you understand the material completely.
- Keep track of your assignments and tests. The key to efficient studying is setting aside time to do it and using your time wisely. In college, you’ll be juggling multiple classes at a time, so you’ll want to keep track of your assignments, quizzes, and tests in a planner. When you get the syllabus for your class, write everything down in your planner so you don’t miss anything!
- Change up your study space from time to time. Some students find that the work best in a calm, quiet environment and, once they find one, they stick to it. But recent research shows that alternating study spaces may help you to retain information for longer. Try changing up your study space a few times a week to see if this tactic works for you!
- Try a study group. In some cases, study groups can actually detract from your studies if you spend more time socializing than studying, but they are a wonderful resource when used properly. Find a group of students in the same classes as you and suggest a study group. When it comes to assignments, you can divide and conquer or you can work through them together.
- Make flash cards. If you have a lot of material to remember – especially if it’s small facts like names or dates, flash cards are a wonderful study tool. The act of writing everything out is valuable in and of itself, but the flashcards will also help you to solidify your understanding of the material.
- Change it up from time to time. Rather than spending four hours studying for a single class, try dividing up your academic work load and alternate between subjects. If you change things up from time to time you’ll be less bored which means you’ll focus more on the material and retain more of it in the long run.
- Use your notes wisely. When you attend a lecture, it is important to take notes. Not only will you have those notes to refer to when it comes time to complete the assignment, but writing things down actually helps you to retain the information. But don’t just take notes and forget about them – review them several times to really solidify your understanding and memory of the material!
- Highlight and rewrite your notes. In addition to reviewing your notes, you may also want to highlight them as you make your review. Highlight important concepts and facts so you can easily focus on those areas when you go back through to study. You may even find that rewriting your notes is helpful for remembering the material!
- Get enough sleep! This may not seem like a study tip, but a great deal of research shows that getting a good night’s rest is imperative for strong academic performance. If you follow the study tips above, you’ll get your work done with plenty of time to get a full night of sleep. In the morning you’ll be more alert and focused and ready for class.
In the end, it is up to you to determine what kind of study habits benefit you most. Some students prefer to attend lectures and take notes by hand while others prefer to do the reading themselves and to study independently. Whatever method you choose, be sure that it is one that enables you to succeed in school as much as possible.