It doesn’t matter whether you are an incoming freshman or a student who has been on campus for a while; learning how to study effectively is something that every student needs to learn how to do, and it is something that doesn’t happen over night or without the motivation and discipline to find the most effective methods for studying.
Sometimes the advice of people who have been there and have had to discover what works and what doesn’t can be helpful, especially for students who feel like they are spinning their wheels because they are clueless as to how to begin to discover what will work for them. Here are some tips, suggestions and recommendations.
*Learn proper time management –
Nothing is more crucial to effective and productive studying than learning how to manage your time properly. Learning how to manage time properly involves budgeting time for assignments, projects, reading, and other things you have to do. It also means scheduling time for relaxation and fun because time away from studying refreshes you in the same way that sleep does.
*Look beyond the week when you study –
Effective studying requires that you look at things as a whole. Most classes build on material that is presented throughout the course of the semester. When you look ahead, you look to your syllabus to see what is expected of you in the days and weeks ahead. This is something that can help you break up your study material into easily comprehensible increments.
*Develop your own system –
Some students use a highlighter and highlight important things as they read. They may use different colors to indicate greater or less importance. Some students use flags to indicate points in books where especially important information lies. Some students use repetition as a way by which to reinforce what they are learning. They may try to retype their class notes, incorporating information from the reading into the notes.
When it comes to having to learn specific terms, concepts or words, some students may rely on a system of flash cards. They may use a flash card system to combine memorization and repetition. Maybe a list of important things is what works for you. Everyone has to figure out what works best for them, and the way to discover that may involve a lot of trial and error.
*Don’t procrastinate –
Procrastination is a way by which to guarantee poor performance. One cannot cram the requirements of an entire semester or half semester into a short amount of time. By the same token, you cannot pull off a research paper in a small amount of time and do justice to the topic. You cannot leave the semester’s reading until the week before your final exam and expect to retain any or all of the information that will be on your final exam. All of this is utter foolishness.
*Read small amounts at a time –
One of the best ways to ensure that you understand everything you read and retain it as you read it is to break up the reading assignment for a week or whatever into smaller manageable amounts. Rather than trying to read the 300 pages that were assigned for the week the night before you are supposed to have the material read, read 50 pages each day for six days. If necessary, break those 50 pages up. Spend 30 minutes reading 25 pages and read the other 25 later in the day.
*Do research regularly and a bit at a time –
Doing research for major research papers can be a daunting task. Good research is that which is done over time because you have the opportunity to sift through it and weed out what isn’t useful and then take the most important information. Research papers demand good sources; they should be primary sources or respected and authoritative scholars.
*Allow enough time to write papers –
A good paper is usually not written the night before it is due; it is written over time when one can edit themselves, organize the paper well, document sources, tie all of the elements of the paper together and be sure that there is a good solid introduction that sets forth what the paper will say and a well summarized conclusion that wraps up everything else in the paper.
*Find a suitable place to study.
A suitable place to study is crucial for productive studying. A noisy, crowded, busy or disruptive place is not a good place for studying. If you know that you and your friends are going to chat rather than study, than don’t study together unless you do so at someplace like the college or university library.
*Be sure to allow time for breaks –
It is never a good idea to try to study for long periods of time without taking breaks. Most people cannot concentrate for such long periods of time, and forcing yourself to study when you aren’t focusing is essentially a waste of time.
*Don’t cram –
Students who fail to do their studying in a timely manner may find themselves faced with the necessity of having to cram in everything they failed to learn in a cram session over night. This type of study strategy almost always backfires.
It is important to realize that different people learn things in different ways. Some people are very visual, and seeing things as in flash cards can be very helpful for them. Other people may be better at learning things through constant repetition. Some people may be very aural, in which case, hearing things over and over again may be what works for them.
There is no one right or wrong method by which college students should study. The important thing is to be invested enough in your own studies and in your academic success to be willing to take the time and effort to figure out what works best for you.
The idea behind your academic work in college is that you are there to learn, do the best that you can, and hopefully do and learn things that will lead to a career and employment upon graduation. The study skills you develop early on will teach you how to be focused and disciplined ,and these are skills that you will be able to drawn on throughout the rest of your life.