College Study Tips

Here are a few tips I’ve compiled for college students seeking to improve their study habits:


There are several reasons why you shouldn’t wait until the last minute to study for your exam. First, cramming adds unreasonable stress, which makes it impossible to concentrate. Second, you are less likely to retain information if you cram; it is much easier to learn the material as you go. This can be accomplished by paying attention in class, taking good notes, and by reviewing the notes immediately afterward. That way, you might only have to put in a few hours of studying before the big test, instead of frantically cramming brand-new information the night before.


Even if your professor posts all his/her notes on the internet, it’s still best to attend as many lectures as possible. There are some concepts that just don’t translate well on a PowerPoint slide. Quite aside from that, you never know when your professor might decide to take attendance, or dole out bonus points to the dedicated few who do attend lectures – you want to be there if that happens.  


This means going beyond copying down what is on the presentation. Ad lib as you are writing – make an effort to put the information you are learning in a larger context. By putting the notes in your own words you are actively learning. If you find you cannot ad lib while the teacher is lecturing, then set aside time later that day to review and revise your notes. Writing in a stream-of-conscious style helps to make the material part of a larger narrative, rather than a boring set of bullet points to commit to memory.


They say that the best way to learn something is to teach it. Forming a study group allows you to part of a beneficial give-and-take dynamic, allowing you to teach and learn according to your strengths. Different perspectives collaborating aloud will make the learning process fun and fulfilling – and your study partners will help fill in the gaps in your knowledge about the course material.


Professors love it when you show genuine interest and initiative. Make a point to visit them in their offices early in the semester, even if only to drop a line or ask them about supplemental reading materials. That way, if you get in a bind later in the semester and need your class average bumped up a bit, they will be more willing to work with you. If you wait until you are already in trouble to solicit their help, they might not be so compliant. A good conversation topic for the initial office meeting is their research – Are they working on a project? A book? Scholarly articles? Ask them about it! They will appreciate the effort and definitely remember you later.