Self-Help Study Strategies/Skills
As with any advice, not all study skills tips will work for any given student with any given problem. Accept, reject or combine these skills in any combination; but do become a self-conscious learner. If you want assistance identifying the causes of your struggle or translating these suggestions into concrete practice, visit The Advising and Career Center, Wyllie Hall D175 (595-2040).
IF YOU FEEL OVERWHELMED BY THE AMOUNT OF WORK YOU FACE:
- Provide for spaced or routine review.
- Study as soon as possible after class; Review your notes the day you take them.
- Study during the day if possible instead of waiting until evening.
- Study in 1 to 1 ½ hour blocks instead of trying to study in large blocks of time at one sitting in the evenings.
- Identify and use your periods of maximum alertness for the most difficult, demanding or creative work you face.
Seize the day! By reading and reviewing daily and using the time you have during the day, you keep up, learn the material more quickly and free your evenings for long-term projects or relaxation.
- Keep daily, weekly and monthly schedules. List the dates-due, exam times, etc. for each month on a month-at-a-glace calendar. Identify the rhythms of each month.
- Learn the daily and weekly demands on your time. Put them on a weekly calendar.
- Each night before bed, list the tasks you need to accomplish the next day in order to “break-even,” taking into account long-term deadlines. Allocate time for them!
Consider these changes:
- Arrive at class 5-10 minutes early and use that time to review.
- Do the task you like least, first. Get it out of the way.
- Schedule “slop time” for each project; plan for 10% more time than you think you will need. Start that project as early as possible.
- Break larger assignments into smaller, more manageable steps.
IF YOU DO WELL ON QUIZZES/HOMEWORK BUT NOT EXAMS; IF YOU STUDIED THE WRONG THING; IF YOU FEEL YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT THE INSTRUCTOR WANTS:
Study by producing:
- When reviewing notes (the day you take them), identify the key concepts or points made; Explain them in your own words.
- As you review, create your own questions and then answer them in your own words without using the texts or notes.
- Read to think, not to memorize. Enter into a dialogue with the ideas. Turn thesis statements into questions and answer them in your own words.
- Make your mind work the way an exam will make it work.
- In mathematics, be sure you can explain what each practice problem illustrates and what you need to know to solve it.
- Be sure to answer ALL chapter and study guide questions, not just the ones you have to look up.
IF YOU CANNOT REMEMBER WHAT YOU HAVE JUST READ:
- Survey (skim) the assignment before you read it carefully, identifying the issues being covered. Read the introduction and conclusions and any questions at the end of the chapter; Allow the material to generate questions for you. THEN read the chapter and answer these questions. Recite the answers in your own words.
- Routinely compare and contrast the reading assignments with each other and with the lecture notes. How do they agree or disagree? Identify common themes.
- Try establishing a discussion group with other members of your class.
- Write a precis or a critique of each assignment, highlighting the author’s thesis and your analysis. Or, write an abstract of the assignment.
- Be aware of where you are reading. Move to alternative locations if you are routinely interrupted.
- Break reading assignments into smaller “chunks;” don’t try to read an entire assignment just before it is due.
IF YOU HAVE TROUBLE TAKING GOOD NOTES OR RECALLING YOUR NOTES:
- Be sure to complete the reading assignments BEFORE the lectures.
- Listen for basic principles as well as for facts and details.
- Listen for the signal words in the lecture: e.g.” “First, Second, third...,” “however,” the “therefores” and the “If....then...”
- Pay attention to tone of voice and body language.
- WAIT to organize the notes until you review that day.
- Review the notes the day you take them. Add to and complete the notes. Identify the key points and themes and then repeat them in your own words without looking.
- Review notes weekly. Look for repetitions, patterns and continuing themes.