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Need to Learn How to Study? Here are Some Tips

By Jenna Moede

High school did not prepare me well for college, and I definitely didn’t know how to study. I went into college thinking I would just know what to do, but I quickly learned that I didn’t know nearly as much as I thought. 

I learned some ways to help me get by through a lot of trial and error.

The first thing that helped me study was to set myself up for success. I made sure that I had everything I needed like pens, notebooks, highlighters and my book. Not only did I get distracted if I had to get up a million times but I also got out of my studying mood. It got really hard to find the motivation to start or keep studying once I’d moved too much.

Scheduling studying like a job also helped me to find time to study. I learned that I had to dedicate myself to not just setting time aside but also following through. I couldn’t just say I would study every night at 8, I actually had to study every night at 8.    

Another tip I have is try to schedule study sessions at times when there are minimal distractions.  For example, if you know the house is usually quiet early in the morning or after work, plan to study during those times. Also consider the time of day you plan to study so you can prepare for anything you usually want at that time like a snack if you study midday or coffee early in the morning. 

Finding what atmosphere works best for you really helps you focus too. I had friends in college that needed complete silence in order to complete assignments, but I liked to have music playing. I found that if my study space was too quiet, I could never focus. You might have to try different strategies to figure out what works best for you and try to remember that what works for someone else might not work the best for you.

Something else to try at the start of each semester and each subsequent week is to schedule your daily work and stick to it. Find a way to schedule your assignments that will hold you accountable. 

After breaking down your assignments and tasks daily, write them down. Really try to find what keeps you motivated to complete those tasks.  I liked to cross things off my list and that worked fine for me, but you might prefer checking in with someone like a friend or a spouse to help you stay accountable. Studying is really about what is best for you and what keeps you working hard. 

Once you have completed all of your prep work, make sure you really read all the provided material.  That includes directions. I skipped the directions on one of my first college assignments and found that I spent hours doing work I never had to do. Plus, I felt embarrassed after finding out I had done it wrong.

I also found that it was helpful to take paper notes because writing aids in memorization. If I came across an idea, word or theory that I didn’t know, I made sure I understood the information before moving on. I always tried to remember that I worked for more than just a grade. I wanted to apply the material in my career one day. 

Since you hopefully took time to highlight key ideas or notes, another great study tip is to review those notes before diving into the next day’s homework. I found that I recalled information and picked up where I left off better when I gave my brain a little reminder of what I had read previously. 

Another way to help you study is to make every point count. Online classes tempted me to ignore assignments that didn’t have a high point value, but I easily forgot that those points made huge differences in my grade. During one class I once got an A by just one point. It turned out that every point and every assignment really did matter.

Lastly, I learned that not only did I have to work hard on every assignment, but I also had to utilize every resource available like peer editing, school writing centers and study groups. I found that doing whatever it took to do well on assignments really paid off.

Overall, everyone study habits may be different, but if you work hard, prioritize and stay motivated sticking with those habits can help you reach your academic goals. 

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