In high school, studying the night before the test or even the morning of the test was plenty of prep time to still do well. When I got to college, I quickly learned that wasn’t the case anymore. While the tests weren’t much harder, it was the amount of information that the tests covered presenting the issue. I quickly realized that my old system wasn’t going to work anymore and that I needed to find a new one fast. It took a little while, but I finally have a system that works for me and allows me to be successful in my classes.
I wanted to share my tips on the best ways to study in college and be successful. While it does seem like a lot, as long as you stay on top of things and don’t wait until the last minute, you are good to go. Although it is definitely overwhelming at first, once you get into a routine it gets much easier.
- Have study time scheduled into your days. I know it sounds like a bit much, but having study time scheduled into your day is the best way to make sure that you are able to manage your demanding schedule along with your course load. Treat your homework and study time that you have scheduled in as if it is a class. Don’t schedule appointments during it, don’t sit on your phone, don’t just sit and talk with friends. Know what homework and studying needs to be done for the day and get it done.
- Refer to your syllabus. Your syllabus is a wonderful tool that sadly many people don’t utilize to its full potential. I’ll let you in on a little secret now, it is actually your guide to being successful in your classes. It will include everything from your professor’s email and office hours, to test dates and due dates for assignments. I’ve had one professor that actually wrote his pop quiz dates and chapters covered in the pop quiz on the syllabus just to give those who utilized their syllabus a bit of an advantage.
- Have everything written down. Whether you have your homework, quizzes, and tests in a written planner or digital planner, have everything written down And while yes it does take a while to complete at the beginning of the semester, it is so worth in in the long run, especially when you don’t have the time come mid-semester. It’s your choice whether you want homework, tests, and projects written into your weekly or monthly view, but having that to refer to makes it super easy to plan your weeks and know if you have time to go on that weekend long service trip or to make a quick trip home to see family and friends.
- Plan your school work and studying for each day. Know what you want to get done each day. Maybe you need to finish your stats homework, make flash cards for accounting, and study for your microeconomics test that is next week. Having a plan of what you want to accomplish and get done will give you a feeling of accomplishment and success when you make it through your school to-dos for the day.
I have a list of goals written down in the front of my planner and also write my weekly goals in my planner for that week. This way, I know that I am taking baby steps towards my ultimate goals and if I’m ever feeling discouraged I can look back through my planner and see my progress. I highly recommend making goals for things outside of school as well such as goals for fitness, health, blogging, relationships, work, organizations you are involved in and more.
Go to Tutoring/Office Hours
If you are struggling in a class or simply struggling with grasping a concept in one of your classes, go to tutoring or office hours. Many more difficult classes have free tutoring hours through the university that you can attend with student teachers that are super knowledgeable in the subject. If tutoring isn’t offered, always check out your professor’s office hours. Just be sure to remember, the tutors and professors are there to help you! There is absolutely no reason to feel that you shouldn’t attend tutoring or office hours. And if you have a conflict with your professor’s office hours, such as work or another class, send them an e-mail and let them know. Typically, when you show that you care about your education and your classes, they will be more than happy to set up a time to meet that works for both of you.
Study Every Day
For me, studying everyday was the biggest adjustment when I got to college. In high school I could simply study the night before or the morning of the test and be good to go, but that definitely wasn’t the case in college. Even just skimming your notes from the last lecture the ten minutes prior to class can help you retain class information and not have to spend your time cramming the last few days before the test.
Rewrite your Notes
While I know that some people highly discourage using laptops in class, we have all had those professors that simply talk way to fast and also happen to be the one professor that doesn’t post class notes online. So whether your notes from class are hand-written or typed, take the time to sit down and re-write them by hand. It’s a great way to review the material and helps a lot if you had difficulties understanding a particular lecture.
Flashcards have been my go-to study tool since I was in junior high. They are my favorite way to memorize vocabulary and they give you another way to write out class material. Plus, they are perfect to keep in your backpack to review during the ten minute wait before your next class starts. Remember, every little bit counts.
Know What to do Before and After Class
Whether its readings, notes from the book, making flashcards, or even listening to the lecture again, know what you need to do before and after each of your classes. For example, in my business law class last semester, I would get lost and confused during the lecture if I hadn’t read the chapter and made and reviewed flashcards beforehand. Going into class with that extra bit of knowledge helped me retain and learn more just from the lectures before I even started studying the material we learned.
Turn off the Distractions
Use an internet software to disable social media and turn your phone to airplane mode and get to work. It’s so much easier to get stuff done and retain information when you don’t have Facebook and incoming text messages to distract you.
I honestly used to be the person, even in high school, that would sit for hours without a break to get all of my homework and studying done for the day. At the time I thought that I was doing good for myself and being productive, when really I was just wearing myself out and not retaining information like I should. Figure out a good amount of time for you to sit and study before you need to take a break and do something else for a bit. For me, I do homework and study for about an 1-2 hours and then take a break for an hour and will sit down to do more homework for another 1-2 hours after my break. I love using my hour break to do something productive like take a class at the gym or work on my blog.
Join a Study Group
Personally, it’s one of my biggest pet peeves to study with people that just want to copy my notes and flashcards and be on their way. Joining study groups is the perfect way to meet like-minded people that also have put time in to the class and can help you if anything is unclear or if you happened to miss some information in your notes. They are also a great way to push you out of your comfort zone and get you to try new methods of studying that could ultimately help you out a lot in the long run.
Make a List of Questions
I know it sounds silly, but this learning this tip from one of my tutors last semester has helped me gain so much from lectures that would have ultimately confused me. If you are reviewing information for an upcoming class lecture and are confused on some of the topics, make a list of questions on what confused you. When you go to your lecture, you will pay more attention during those particularly tricky topics and will grasp them better. Another great way to utilize this if you didn’t review the material for an upcoming lecture, is that if you are reviewing the material after a lecture and are confused, make a list of questions to ask your tutor or professor so that they can help you to better comprehend the topics that confuse you. When I go to math tutoring, I always take a piece of paper where I’ve written out problems from the lecture or homework that confused me and that I could use a little extra help on.
Where you overwhelmed by the amount of studying for tests in college? What tips do you personally utilize from this list? Is there anything that you would add to this list?