Study Strategies

1. Find a routine study place.

A good study area should have a desk or a table big enough to spread out your books without them all being on top of each other. You should also have lots of light. Ideally, you will be near a window with an overhead light and perhaps even a small reading lamp. Most importantly, you need a place that is relatively free from distractions. That means no TV on in the room, no children running past, no phone conversations to listen in on. Whether or not you listen to music while you study depends on your personal preference. It could be that this place is not in your house, but at school or the public library.

2. Find a routine time to study.

For every hour you spend in class, you will probably need two to three hours outside of class to study. Figure out what time of day you can concentrate best, and what works into your schedule. Use that time every day to study. Try to make sure it is not too late in the evening. Remember that studying includes more than doing your homework. It means reviewing your notes and making sure you understand them, reading your syllabus to know what is coming up in class and doing reading assignments.

3. Schedule your study time.

Make a quick schedule of what you are going to do and how you are going to use your time. Don't be afraid to schedule in short breaks every hour to get fresh air and give your brain a break. Avoid marathon study sessions and spread your studying throughout the day if possible. The fresher you are, the more you will concentrate and absorb what you are studying.

4. Take care of personal business before beginning.

Take care of any personal phone calls, lingering errands, hunger or sleep before you begin to study. This will help you concentrate on the subject at hand instead of feeling like you need to answer the phone, get a snack or any other item that will keep you from fully participating in studying. You'd be amazed at how much time you waste going to or from the refrigerator or daydreaming about the other things that need to get done.

5. Study the hard subjects or the ones you like the least first.

Studying those subjects when you are fresh allows you intake that information and focus on understanding it. If you are tired, you might choose not to study it or not fully understand it because you are tired. Besides, if you do it first, you won't dwell on the fact it still has to be done during your other study time.

6. Make use of the study resources on campus.

Find out about and use labs, tutors, videos, computer programs and the alternate texts. Ask a librarian to give you a tour of where things are located in the library and don't be afraid to ask a computer lab technician for assistance if you have any questions about a program. Get to know your professors and advisors. Don't be afraid to ask questions to get the assistance you need or want.

7. Make use of your class breaks.

Back to back classes can be nice, but can also wear you out. If you allow for a break in your day, it allows you to automatically review the material you just covered or prepare for the next class.

8. Find a study buddy or two.

Studies show that studying with someone else on a regular basis can help you make better grades. Motivation may also be greater knowing that you are responsible to someone else in your class. Plus, teaching a concept or new idea to someone else is a sure way to make sure you understand. Just be careful not to make your study time social time.

9. Break up long-term projects.

Larger projects need to be broken into smaller components to make them manageable. For example, these components could be such things as gathering notes, writing a rough draft, making corrections or additions, writing a bibliography, and completing the final copy. Set yourself a deadline for completing each component and make sure you stick to it. While you may think you work better under pressure, you will actually be more thorough if you work on the project in stages.

10. Be good to yourself.

Make sure you get sleep prior to studying for that big test or working on that big project. Avoid short-term energy food and drinks, such as soda and candy, because they will only cause you to be more tired when they wear off. Also, when you complete the things on your schedule or one of the smaller steps of a big project, give yourself a reward. This will keep you motivated to continue.