Learning to study smart is one of the most important skills you will learn in university. It doesn’t matter if you are in your first year or doing a PhD, there are always methods to improve you grades and performance by finding the study strategies that work for you. Paired with other Study Naturally techniques like eating right and exercise, improving your study skills can enhance your overall focus and academic performance.
Why Are Study Skills Important?
Tip: Strong motivation is an important step on the road to success. By activiely developing good study skills and learning strategies, you will keep your motivation high and achieve your goals much more easily and more efficiently.
- Learning study skills will not only help you succeed in university, but they will also help you in life.
- Some of the benefits of improved study skills include: reduced test anxiety, increased confidence, competence and self-esteem.
- By developing effective study skills you may be able to cut down on the numbers of hours you have to study, leaving more time in your life for other things.
- Enriched study skills can lead to improved learning and retention of the knowledge.
- Students who exercise effective study skills may feel their work and effort is more worthwhile.
Before You Study
Look at the Big Picture
Ask yourself these questions: How many exams do I have to study for? What are the dates of these exams? How much time do you think you can dedicate to each subject? What is your grade going into the exam, and what is the exam worth towards your final grade?
In university it may seem like there is always a paper due or an exam coming up. So prioritize and plan out what needs to be done first and what can wait.
Plan what and when you want to study. You can schedule your time in your agenda. An agenda is one of the best organizational tools you can use to organize school life.
Give Yourself Plenty of Time
Cramming is not the most effective way to study. When you start to study weeks in advance you have more time to reach your academic goals. It also gives you time to ask questions about everything you don’t fully understand.
Set Up a Study Area
If is helpful if you can find an area where you can spread out your notes, your computer and your books. Try to find somewhere where you feel comfortable and there is little distraction. Try one of the many libraries across campus to find your study spot.
When You Study
Make Your Own Notes
What are the titles, headings, and subheadings? Are there any bolded words? These can be great indicators to help you know what information is important.
Having beautiful notes and a perfectly highlighted textbook doesn’t matter if you don’t understand the information in it. Don’t be afraid to get messy when scrawling out ideas on paper and connecting them in your head.
Put It in Your Own Words
Paraphrasing is a great technique to help you really understand the material. Try paraphrasing by reading over a page or paragraph of information, covering it up, then repeating the information in your own words. Teach It
Find someone who doesn’t understand the material and teach it to them. Doing this can help you understand concepts in less amount of time than you would studying by yourself.
Should I Study By Myself or in a Group?
At different points in your learning process you may find that you benefit more from studying on your own than in a group, or vice versa. The key is to know where you are getting the most from your efforts.
What Material Should I Start With?
Start with your most challenging sections and move on from there. If you know certain material very well you don’t need to spend as much time studying it, just quickly review the material to make sure you understand it.
Exams are among the most important and stressful aspects of university life. Exam anxiety is a common and normal stress reaction experienced before, during and sometimes following exams. It can become problematic when it is intense, persists over time and interferes with academic performance.
Tips for Taking Exams
- Try to get an adequate amount of sleep the night before.
- Give yourself time in the morning to go through your regular routine, eat a good breakfast and plan your strategy for studying and dealing with stress during the day.
- Quit studying at least half an hour prior to the test.
- Avoid getting to class too early. Time before exams is usually spent worrying.
- Be aware of your own signs of developing anxiety and use self-control strategies to keep tension at a manageable level.
- Sit where you feel comfortable and will not be distracted.
- Try to avoid anxious students before the exam because they can easily cause your anxiety level to rise.
- Avoid becoming your own worst enemy and talking to yourself in such a manner that you begin to doubt your abilities.
- Read each question slowly, twice. Underline or highlight key words and phrases. Re-word the question in a way that makes sense to you.
- If you cannot answer a question, go to the next one. If not knowing the question causes anxiety, take a deep breath and try to relax before moving on.
Study Apps and more resources
- Focus Booster
- iStudiez Pro
- Dragon Anywhere
- Wolfram Alpha
- EasyBib: Citation generator
U os S Student Learning Services provide great information on how to beat procrastination, dealing with deadlines, exam anxiety, starting assignments, taking notes in lectures and much more.
For more information go to U of S library