College Success: How to Study in College

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  1. Tutoring at Gloucester
  2. How to be a Successful College Student | Academic Success Center Online | RIT
  3. Center for Student Progress

Once you have a schedule, stick to it. Writing it on a wall calendar can be an effective visual reminder and help keep you on track. How long does it take you to study for a test? A lot of students end up pulling a marathon study session the night before a big exam, but the evidence shows that last-minute cramming is not the best way to go if you actually want to learn something. It can help you get a decent grade on your exam, but you'll quickly start to forget the material once the exam is over.

That's because when we try to stuff a lot of information into our brains very quickly, the information gets stored in short-term rather than long-term memory. Research has shown that the best way to study is to do several short study sessions spaced out over the span of a few days or even weeks. Spacing out your study sessions forces your brain to retrieve the information and build on it each time, which gives it a more permanent place in your long-term memory.

Finding a suitable place to work is important. Your dorm is full of distractions and should ideally be a place to rest and relax, so you might want to find another spot. Maybe the library, the local coffee shop, a study hall, or a picnic table in the courtyard will work for you. And if you really want to maximize your learning, you might want to try alternating where you do your work.

Tutoring at Gloucester

Some memory experts believe the brain makes unconscious associations between the material it is learning and the background environment at the time of learning. Before you begin a study session, gather all your materials so that you won't waste time backtracking to find the textbook you forgot. If you know you'll need a calculator or three different colors of pens, make sure you have them with you. But be selective about the items you really need. Your cell phone is probably not one of them, so put it on silent and tuck it away in a bag where it can't interrupt your focus.

A laptop makes it easier to take notes, but the distractions of games, email, and social media might derail your concentration, so it might be more effective to work with pen and paper. Many college students like to listen to music while they study. Whether music is an effective tool is up for debate. Music can boost productivity and attentiveness for repetitive tasks that require focus, but it can also make it more difficult to concentrate on complex tasks requiring a lot of cognitive processing. Learning how to study effectively can involve a bit of trial and error. As many successful college students have learned, you study for exams by exploring different study methods and discovering what works best for you.

For example, try associating unknown terms with familiar images to help you remember the terms more easily.


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Tell yourself stories about the material you're learning to help it stick in your mind. Use analogies to compare concepts. Avoid passive reading. If you're studying from a textbook, look at the chapter summary first, then look over the review questions at the end. Once you've done that, you can go back and read the chapter with an eye to answering the review questions.

That way, you'll engage with the material more and retain the information better. Different subjects require different study techniques. For instance, you study for a history test by paying special attention to the order of events and organizing your notes in chronological order. Mnemonic devices can help you learn factual information like dates and names. For example, learning a rhyming phrase like "In , Columbus sailed the ocean blue" is an easy way to recall the date the explorer discovered America.

Creating a mind map or a visual timeline could also be helpful. Focus on making connections between the facts so that they'll be easier to recall. As an example, you could try noting the related causes and consequences for each event. That should give you a good foundation for any essay writing that may be part of an exam. On the other hand, you study for a math final by solving a lot of practice problems. Remember that math concepts build on each other, so don't gloss over something that doesn't make sense to you.

How to be a Successful College Student | Academic Success Center Online | RIT

Try drawing diagrams or tables to help you understand the information. Community College Journal of Research and Practice , v42 n5 p College success courses CSCs , or orientation courses, are offered by community colleges and universities to facilitate the success of first-time-in-college students.

In this descriptive, quantitative study, the pass and withdrawal rates of 19, developmental students in a CSC were calculated by gender, ethnicity, and age across and within six community college system campuses located in Texas for four consecutive semesters, Fall through Fall Create practice exams days prior to test day.

Spend some time ahead of test day to review your lecture notes, the syllabus, and any study guides or hints your professor has dropped about what the exam questions might look like. Then use previous quizzes, homework, example problems, sites like Koofers , and other resources on Google to construct at least two different homemade practice exams to take. Do exam rehearsals 5 days prior, and 2 days prior to test day.

Center for Student Progress

Take the exam all the way through as if you were doing it for a grade. The purpose of the first exam is to understand where you stand, and pinpoint where your mistakes are. This is what you should focus on studying. Intersperse exam-specific study sessions in between practice tests.

Then solving similar problems from scratch. Repeat until you feel comfortable answering those types of questions. Do a quick refresh and mental rehearsal the day before the exam. Do some light active recall problem solving just to stay sharp. Then take advantage of visualization to help reduce test anxiety. Mentally rehearse some potential scenarios where you might get stuck of have trouble e.

Getting those negative thoughts out of your head and onto paper has been shown to help students improve their test grades. Keep an eye out for clues on the exam itself. If you find yourself stuck on one question, move on and return to it later, because other questions often cover similar material that may trigger something in your memory that will help you answer it.

Creating a one-page summary sheet is a great way to actively summarize the material for your exam. Resource How to Prepare for Finals in College Study cumulatively prior to the end of the semester. Periodically work in old material into your study sessions will significantly improve your ability to study for finals when the end of the semester hits.

Keep all of your old exams or at least record what the mistakes were. Add your finals schedule into your calendar. Review your syllabus, check the course website, and make sure you have any changes to exam times accounted for. Start studying early. Finals tend to strike fear in the hearts of college students, so the temptation for procrastination is high. Try to start as early as you can though, just with short study sessions, to take advantage of distributed practice and avoid cramming.

Alternate study environments. A more varied approach means your knowledge becomes more robust. Attend the review sessions offered by the professor.