Effective Study Habits for College Students

Studying- it is important. There’s nothing quite so satisfying in the world of education as walking into an exam with the breezy confidence that comes along with really knowing your subject matter. At the same time, though, there are many temptations when one sits down for study regardless if one is a high school or college student.

My strategies for making and managing study time, which I hope are of some help to all well meaning but easily distracted students, are presented here:

* Studying to really know your material takes time. Not one all night cram session before the exam, but consistent effort over time. As such, schedule a little time for study every day, in the same way you would an evening out with friends or sports practice. Spreading the effort this way makes life a lot easier.

* Study in a neat, organized space away from the television/radio/noisy flat mates. Keep everything you may need there, including pencils, paper, pens, an electric outlet (if you use a laptop), calculator, writing surface (there are some pretty cool lap desks available that take up just a little space) etc. Every trip away from your study space to retrieve materials presents the temptation to grap a snack, watch ‘just a little’ television, make a phone call, etc.

* Attend every class alert enough to absorb what is being covered. Studying is much easier if you have not slept through a lecture where new material was covered. Exploit your time in the classroom as well. Ask questions, participate in discussions, take notes. You need to be in class anyway, so why not streamline your time there? That way, in the future, you wont need to waste time copying a friend’s notes or asking your teacher questions about old material.

* Make studying fun any way that you can. Even if this involves retraining your thinking so as not to dwell on how much you do not look forward to sitting down and reading. Me? I buy myself a liquid treat (generally an ice cold Diet Coke) to consume whilst studying. Coffee is another favorite of mine. You could also take your work outside (study+communing with nature), or to a quiet internet cafe (added bonus of having the internet on hand), or to the university library. Pick something, anything, that can incentivise your study. You may actually start looking forward to it.

* When reviewing for a test/exam, do the bulk of your reviewing 2 or 3 days before the actual exam, NOT the night before. Have at least one night to sleep on it, and make sure that you are well rested for the day of the exam. Me, I will study hard (say, a whole afternoon/evening) 2 days before the exam, and the day before the exam I will not think about the exam at all. I’ll go for coffee or out with a friend. Then, the morning of the exam, I will review one or two topics that had given me trouble. Cramming should never enter into your strategy.

The more experience you gain in the academic world, the more you will find strategies that work for you. Making and managing time are core skills that any successful student will need to study well, and the above suggestions should assist with that.