Learning “How to Study” can be one of the best investments of your time in terms of preparing to go back to school or improving your grades while you are in school. The best part is that anyone that truly wants to improve their learning process can do so by following a few basic principles of time management, organization, and prioritization. In this post, we are going to discuss with you, 10 effective tools and study habits for college students that want to improve their GPA (grade point average) or make sure they start their academic career off on the right footnote.
Dedicate a specific time and place to study:
Having a set place and time to study can make all the difference. Students who don’t practice this technique tend to be more stressed about homework and studying because they are never sure how or where they are going to study. Often, they also won’t know if they will have enough time to complete the assignments and review the material. Having a set time and place to study alleviates all of those “stressors” and allows you to focus on the material you need to cover.
Prioritize your time:
No matter how much you might wish differently, there are only so many hours in a day you can devote to studying. So it’s important that you prioritize your time before you start studying each and every study session. Start with the more difficult tasks and material you have in front of you for the study session. Most people are more open to difficult material in the beginning of the study session. As the session wears on and you start to get tired, that is the time you will want to spend on material that you have a good understanding of already or have basic tasks to complete on a project or assignment.
Set the mood:
Only you know what works for you. Do you do better with some light background music? Or by having a little snack before you begin? Maybe you study better in the early afternoon, or between classes. Maybe you’re a night owl that does their best work between 1 and 3 in the morning. No matter what “mood” you set though, the most important part of this step is being honest with yourself and how you work to maximize efficiency.
Getting the most out of your assigned reading list:
Nothing makes a class more enjoyable than walking in with a good understanding of the material before the instructor even opens their mouth to speak. Reading the material ahead of time also gives you the opportunity to make some notes before class and make sure any questions you have to get addressed in class. Bring your reading notes to class and augment any areas the instructor highlights or spends lots of time on that you missed in your notes.
How to read like a student:
Most students will approach a reading assignment in the same old-fashioned method…open the book to chapter 1, begin reading. By the time they get to the end of the chapter though, their retention and comprehension are low. In order to answer the review questions, they must go back and re-read the chapter scanning for answers. Although this can be marginally successful at times, try this method instead; Turn to the end of the chapter and read the chapter summary first and then read all of the review questions. Then go back and read the entire chapter. I’ll bet your understanding of the material and the retention of the material is way better this time!
Teachers Pet Tip – Don’t forget to read and notate any image captions in your textbooks. A lot of instructors use these for exam questions (or bonus questions) and it often gives you much greater insight into the material and what the author was trying to explain.
Participate in the class discussion whenever possible:
Ask open-ended questions. Join the discussion. The point here is that if you are involved in the class discussions you will be paying attention to what the instructor and others are talking about.
Find a study group:
Cliché? Maybe. But when you find the right study group it can really help you with difficult topics and course material. Remember the old saying “two heads are better than one, three heads are better than two…”. Very true in this case.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help:
Sooner or later everyone runs into a course that they just struggle with. The material seems too far over their head, the math is too advanced, the instructor is too hard, whatever the reason; most people struggle with one or more classes sometime in their academic career. Don’t let the frustration, anger or fear of failure stop you from getting help. Seek out your instructor and ask for someone on one time. If they can’t or won’t give it to you, ask if there are any school-sponsored tutor programs, organized study groups or other resources that might help. Chances are helping is within reach if you simply ask for it!
Don’t let life get in the way of your dreams:
Work, kids, husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, friends, etc…
They can all be a GREAT support system. They can also be a tremendous drag on your time, energy and stamina. Make sure they know what your priority is. Why it’s your priority, and that you will make any adjustments necessary to your personal life in order to complete your goal.
Don’t CRAM for exams:
Every now and then you may have a late night finishing a paper or working on a project that needs to be completed, but applying the above techniques on a consistent and steady routine will more than prepare you for quizzes, mid-terms, and finals. You should only need to review your notes for the course a few times before an exam. In other words, if you apply these steps, you should not need to cram!