Studying for college courses can be a daunting task, particularly for new college students. However, with some careful planning and effort, college students can develop some study habits which will maximize their learning potential (and their grades)! Here are five study strategies which can help any student succeed in college:
Break Studying Up Into Small Chunks
A marathon of studying right before a test is the least effective way to prepare. Moreover, it is highly stressful and unhealthy, translating to low energy and inability to concentrate once one actually gets to the test. Instead, students should take 15 or 30 minutes here and there to study, a few times a day, even when exams seem on the distant horizon. This will not only be easier to schedule, (between classes, at lunch, etc), it will also help one to better remember (and actually learn) the material come test time.
An effective way to do this with simpler material is to write terms or questions on note cards, then carry those note cards around and glance at them throughout the day. Studying in chunks, over the long-haul, may mean that students only need to review the material the night before for about an hour (or a little more for maximum points!).
Utilize all Available Resources When Studying
One thing that many students miss out on is the awesome resources their textbooks provide them. Often, there are summary pages at the end of chapters which break down large amounts of information into more bite-size chunks that are easier to understand.
There are also (probably) terms and helpful questions at the end of individual chapters that can guide studying if a student feels like he or she doesn’t know where to begin. In addition, many textbooks have companion websites which have very helpful online quizzes and other activities. Students should check their textbooks to see if these very useful websites are available.
Ask Professors for Guidance, One on One
Professors love to know that students care about the material they work so hard to teach! Asking them one-on-one how best to learn the material (not just how to get a good grade) is likely to garner some great advice, straight from the person who writes the tests! Also, if a professor does not make study guides, one could request that he or she provide a list of particular concepts or questions that would be helpful to consider for each chapter or unit.
Interact With Upper-level College Students
Chances are that students know at least one other student who has had the class for which they are studying. These students can share their strategies for doing well on exams. They will likely be able to explain both what worked well for them, as well as what didn’t work so well.
Even if it means a small hit to the ego, students may also consider going their school’s tutoring/academic support center and studying one-on-one with a tutor who knows the class inside and out. Often, tutors are able to guide the studying process when students feel lost, as well as identify what material and strategies students should focus on in order to do their best.
Be Smart and Responsible About Studying
Finally, in order to do well, students must make some wise decisions. They simply cannot wait until “the night before” to study. They probably cannot study with a large group of their best friends in a dorm lobby full of distractions. They also need to get an adequate amount of sleep before tests. These are things that are easy to recognize, but often a lack of planning or forethought leads students into having little other choice than making these mistakes. The bottom line is that students should plan beforehand how they are going to study, then stick to the plan. When grades are returned, they’ll be happy they did.