What’s the secret to succeeding at college? It’s simple. You have to study, and you have to study in a way that helps you retain the information. Everyone studies a little differently, and that’s okay as long as you find a way to study that works for you. So where do you start? Below are some tricks and study tips for finding the right methods to strengthen your study skills.
Study Tips for College Students
College can sometimes be a hard transition for students who are not used to the rigor and difficulty of college classes. Developing good study habits is the best way to set yourself up for success in your college courses.
Use these college study tips for preparing for tests in any class:
Find a quiet place to study
Though some people like to study with music, a 2010 Applied Cognitive Psychology study revealed that participants who listened to music while studying demonstrated a poor ability to recall the information later. If you can’t find peace and quiet at home, try studying at the library.
Don’t study for longer than one hour
To avoid burnout, keep your study sessions from 30 to 60 minutes. If you need to study longer, make sure that you take a break in between sessions. Get out of your study space during your break. Go for a quick walk and grab a refreshment before you get back to work.
You can’t study everything that you have learned in class this semester, and you don’t have to. Your instructor will not test you on every minor detail or side note given during a lecture. Prioritize the most important concepts, definitions, and ideas from the course and spend your time reviewing those details. You can also spend less time reviewing the concepts you know best.
Study with friends
To stay motivated, try studying with friends and classmates. They might be able to help you understand concepts that you find difficult, and they can also help you go over flashcards and class notes before the test. Form a study group and meet somewhere quiet and conducive to studying. Remember, not everyone works well in study groups. If you find that you study better by yourself, then don’t try to study in a group.
Meet with your professor
No matter how well your classmate thinks they know the material, they are not a substitute for your instructor. Remember that only your teacher will be grading your test, so if you do not understand something, it is best to ask them for clarification. Start by writing an email or talking to them after class about any questions you might have. If necessary, you can also meet with them during office hours.
Get a tutor
Sometimes you need a little extra help when studying. A tutor can be a great option for getting help with the concepts you find difficult before the test. The tutor can go over practice problems and walk you through each step of the process. There are many tutoring options, including private tutors and peer tutors. Find the best option that works for you.
When you’re studying hard, it can be easy to forget that there’s a light at the end of the test tunnel. Reward yourself for a successful study session by taking a break to play video games or watching that movie you’ve been meaning to see. Though these rewards may seem like a waste of time when you’re in study mode, it’s important to reward yourself to keep the momentum going.
Whether it is your first time in college, or you are finishing up your last semester, these tips for studying will help you better prepare for your exams so that you can improve your grades and your GPA. That should keep your parents happy!
One helpful way to improve your studying habits is to create a study guide. Study guides are documents that contain useful information that might appear on the next test. There are many formats and ways to create study guides, but the trick is to find the format that works best for you.
Steps for Creating a Study Guide
- Find a system that works for you. There is more than one way to create an effective study guide. The trick is finding a system that works for you. You can try putting your study information on note cards or place it all on one sheet so that you can glance at it one last time before the test.
- Review your notes for important definitions and concepts. Many exams will test students on general concepts and definitions in order to make sure that the student has a grasp of the content. The best place to review this information is the notes that you have taken during class sessions.
- Use highlighters and colored pens to color code your study guide. By color coding your notes, you can prioritize what you need to study first and what you need to continue to review right up until the test date.
- Ask your instructor what will be on the test. This trick does not always work, but sometimes your instructor will give you hints or ideas about what general concepts will be on the test. Include this information on your study guide.
- Review study guides with a classmate. You and your classmates can help each other learn and retain the information on your next test by going over the study guide together. To make studying more fun, take turns quizzing each other and try to make a game out of it.
Study guides are not required to pass a test, but they certainly don’t hurt your chances of doing well. You can use a study guide, along with other good study tips, to improve your study habits and test performance.
Study Tips for Finals
Many students will spend hours preparing for their final examination. This test is often a significant part of a student’s grade. The final exam usually tests students on material that was learned throughout the semester, so studying for this test can be a bit tricky.
Use these study tips for finals to prepare for your next big final exam:
Don’t cram for your next exam
In order to study effectively, you have to manage your time well. A UCLA study showed that studying at the last minute will push information into short-term memory, but long-term memory is where information needs to be if you want to recall it during test time. Rather than cramming for a test at the last minute, make a study schedule for the week before the exam.
Make sure you have the energy to study
Chances are you have many final exams to study for. It is important to keep your energy levels high so that you can make it through your intense study sessions and do well on test day. You can maintain energy by getting at least 7 hours of sleep per day and eating healthy snacks during your study sessions.
Take short breaks
When the test date draws near, studying may be the only thing on your mind, but it is still important that you remember to take quick breaks. These little periods of relaxation are important for avoiding mental exhaustion.
Remember to exercise
This may seem like a weird addition to our study tips. What does exercising have to do with studying? A lot actually. Science has shown that even 20 minutes of exercise can improve your ability to retain information. Try doing some jumping jacks or busting a move during your study break to increase your energy levels and reduce stress
In the final days and hours leading up to the final, you may become a bit antsy, but it’s important to stay focused and avoid tempting distractions. If you’re not using your computer to study, turn it off, and keep your phone out of sight. Texting and social media can draw your attention away from your study materials and reduce the effectiveness of your study session.
College can be a bit overwhelming at times. Between classes, clubs, sports, and friends, it can be really hard to find time to study. But you don’t have to study harder, just smarter. By using these studying tips, you can be on your way to better test scores and a higher GPA.