Effective Study Habits for College Students

College is probably the one time in your life you’ll have to study more than anything else you do. When the teachers tell you you’ll be spending several hours a day on their class, they’re not kidding. It can get old quickly, and you’ll be tempted to quit. But we all know college grades are very important to getting a good job. Here are some ways to help yourself stay on top of the game.

Start by breaking everything you have to do down into smaller pieces. Reading assignments can be broken down into a specific number of pages per day. If you have a large test to study for, limit how much time you’ll spend on your study sessions. It’s been shown that people who study in small amounts at a time do much better than those who cram.

Essays are the hardest assignments to break down. Start by giving yourself one day where all you have to do is brainstorm what you’ll write about. Jot down different ideas, and draw up a simple outline if it helps you. Then the next time, work on creating a detailed outline, or bubble chart. Whatever helps you remember what you want to say is the best tool for you. Make sure to list any sources that you need to use in your paper. Finally, break down the time you’ll need to actually write the essay. You could try spending thirty minutes a day working on it. It all depends on how soon it’s due. Just don’t try to do it the night before; it rarely works.

Studying for tests is also a big stress for college students. My favorite method is to create flashcards. I take some note cards and write down one or two questions on them. Then I put the answers on the back. I can carry them around with me, and I can limit how many questions I study at once. Make sure to mix them up as you go. An experiment in memorization showed that people tend to remember items at the beginning and the end of a list, but forget those in the middle. So if you’re studying your note cards in the same order, you’ll forgot those in the middle faster.

The last bit of advice we can all learn from is to develop a schedule. You don’t need to try to plan every minute of every day out. There will always be emergencies and distractions to throw you off schedule. But setting aside thirty minutes a day, even if it’s at a different time than the day before, can really help to improve your grades. A little effort goes a long way when it comes to studying. And the best thing you can do to help yourself is to eat right, and make sure to get some sleep.