What are helpful study habits to use in college?
I procrastinate when it comes to studying for tests. Are there any tips that can make it easier to study leading up to a test, instead of cramming?
#education #college #studying-tips #studying #study-skills #time-management
Procrastination often comes out of fear or perhaps the anxiety about an upcoming test. You must first acknowledge that college exams are not like your typical high school test and cover much more material. Organization is key and no, I'm sorry, you will not be able to get away with studying last minute (aka 1 or 2 nights before). But no need to feel ashamed, I failed my first exam due to this exact reason. Here are some things that I found helpful to help me have a strong GPA during my freshman year:
First, having a central planning/calendar platform (whether that be in a formal planner notebook or on a digital platform) is extremely important and perhaps the most crucial tool to being a successful student in college. Every high achieving student I know has one of these. Trust me, you will have a lot going on, and having a place to see what assignments are due and events (yes even extracurriculars and parties) you may have during the week will go a long way. Many colleges will give you a physical paper planner, at least during your first year, which is very nice. For me, what seemed to work was a digital planner platform, called iStudiez Pro, which worked really well for me and did not require me having to carry around a physical notebook all the time. It also synced between my phone and computer, so I did not even have to pull out my computer to put things into my schedule.
This topic of planning relates to test prep because it allows you to change your framework about studying and make it more into a "series of assignments" leading up to the exam. For example: if I had a test coming up in 7-8 days, I would place certain chapters from the unit (sections/topics that will be on the test) as assignments due in the days leading up to the exam. This helped decrease my stress about the test but also hold myself accountable to studying in chunks, a little at a time. The smaller you break up studying, the easier and low-stress you will feel.
College is going to be very hard at times and you may have to study a bit more than you are accustomed to, especially in comparison to high school. Don't underestimate it, but also recognize that college has a lot of parallels to the reality of life in the real adult world. You will be on your own and be forced to figure out what works and what doesn't. So basically, go out and fail. Not on purpose, but really, making mistakes and experiencing failures is what is really going to help you in the long run. It's what teaches you how to study effectively and how not to. You can hear all this great and tremendous advice, but what really will help you is going out there, trying your best and if things don't pan out as you hope, you take a deep breath and try something else (go to office hours) until you finally figure what works.
I hope this helps.
Marco recommends the following next steps:
Something I actually just learned about is called the WOOP Method (more information here https://woopmylife.org/en/home!). The WOOP Method can be used to set any kind of goal and I think this could be particularly helpful for studying. See some helpful steps below.
Best of luck!
Katherine recommends the following next steps:
When I was in my first year of college, this as well was a frequent problem that I learned needed to be revaluated in order to succeed. What I found to be the most helpful is at the beginning of the semester, is to break up your syllabus "To Do's" on a planner. Say for instance, your professor gives at the beginning of the semester a breakdown of when certain chapters need to be read, when quizzes need to be taken, etc. I would note those on a planner. At this point you can create a weekly schedule around those "to do's". So try and plan to read a chapter of a textbook throughout the week an hour here or there. Taking notes throughout this process so if you have any questions for the professor during the actual lecture you will be able to ask rather than being confused. After, the lecture has happened I would try and spend some time going over the notes that you have acquired between the time you started reviewing before the class and during the class so that information actually starts to stick.
This process essentially continues till mid-terms, finals and beyond. The entire point is to try and stay on-top of the work early on in the process so that when the time comes for tests you're not trying to read 20 chapters at one time.
Don't forget to take breaks &reward yourself!
Good luck on this fun journey !!
I had the same problem of procrastinating when I was in college and would have to come up with several methods to keep my mind from running about. One of the actions I took, was to give myself some periodic breaks whenever I was in long study sessions. The time for me was about every 20-25 minutes, I would give myself a 5 minute break to scroll through my phone, search up the latest news on topics that I found interesting, or simply clearing your mind with a breather.
If you find that your procrastinating studying because looking at the material is making you sleepy or the material isn't that engaging, you may have to pick the time when your energy levels are their highest, which is after you've had a full nights rest. Right when you wake up and have had something to eat, get straight to studying. If this is before work, do this for an hour every day. If you feel after work would be better, make sure your minds focused on what your reading or studying. I wouldn't recommend getting used to coffee (caffeine), but it was my best friend on days I knew I needed to get work done and I had waited till the last minute. Again, I do not recommend that route. The best performances I had in my college career was when I had a full night of sleep, something in my stomach and an empty mind free of thoughts that didn't pertain to my studies, I did better on presentations, essays, and research when I took this approach.
I hope you enjoy your college journey!
David recommends the following next steps:
One thing that I absolutely loved later in college was having a homework party. I would get together with my dorm mates or people from my class and we would get together in a room or a common area and just sit and do about 30- 60 minutes of homework. It's not the most fun party, because we wouldn't really talk, but we were able to reward ourselves with some fun afterwards. During lock-down it will be difficult together, but luckily we have the technology to virtually get together and share screens.
When I wanted to work alone, I downloaded an app on google chrome called "Strict Workflow". You type in a list of websites that can distract you, then will block them off for certain amount of time. It uses a technique called the Pomodoro technique where you sit for 25 minutes and then take a 5 minute break. But you have the capability to change the times, so if you want to work for an hour and take a 20 minute break, you just put those times in the options.
Also when I was working alone, I would set a goal for myself. If I was working before dinner, if I finished at a certain time, then I could treat myself to my favorite on-campus location. If not, I would just have to go to whatever was open or closest. Or if I was working on the weekend, and my friends wanted to go out for dinner, I would force myself to tell them that if I didn't have some or all of the work done, then I couldn't go.
Danielle recommends the following next steps:
It looks like you got some awesome tips from other people. This is advice I give some of the students that I work with:
- Try to keep good notes from class and from your readings
- Try typing out your notes, then print them out so you have them handy.
- Whenever you have free time (while you're doing laundry, waiting for your friends, etc.) take out your sheets and just look through them.
- Look at them a little more whenever the test is getting closer
With this, you'll feel less overwhelmed than trying to cram last minute.
I know procrastination... it did a number on me my first semester in college, but you learn from your experiences. The truth is, if you want to do well, you make the time.
Hope this helps Paige!
-Monica Wells, LMHC
Other things that have seriously helped is printing out the syllabus and writing down all the assignments and projects in a planner (online or on paper). Make sure to make separate the projects into smaller steps and put those in the planner as well.
Best rule of thumb I’ve ever heard: start the assignment the day it was assigned. Even if you only put in 10 min for that task, because often times the hardest part is starting!
Hope this helps!
This is a great question, and something I think we all struggle with! A few pieces of advice I have:
- Getting a planner so all of your assignment due dates, tests, and projects are all in the same area.
- Keeping a separate notebook/binder for each class, so it easier when it comes to studying time
- Find a study way that works best for you - whether its group study, flashcards, or even going to a professor's office hours, I've never had a professor who was not willing to help out!
- Try not to procrastinate! This one is hard - but even if you study a half hour every day for a week before the exam, its a lot better than cramming the night before.... speaking of which make sure you get PLENTY of sleep the night before an exam, that way you can go in fresh!
- I personally liked making checklists of to dos, even if it was small stuff (do laundry, organize, etc) - it made me feel accomplished when I got to check something off my list!
Best of luck!
This is such a great question because so many people struggle, yet don't ask for help when it comes to productive studying! One thing that helps me study in college is utilizing online software, such as Quizlet.com, to organize my notes or review questions. This has proved to be productive for me because it provides a way to practice reviewing the information in a test-taking format.
I've also found it helpful to utilize peer-tutoring or productive study groups with likeminded peers. Being able to discuss information out loud with others can be a great way to begin the study process ahead of time! From there, I like to plan out exactly what information I will study each night leading up to the exam in order to stay on track.
As always, don't stress too much! The best thing you can do is allot yourself ample time to review the materials at your own pace...and get a good night sleep!
Julia recommends the following next steps:
Great question! Organization is key to overcome procrastination.
1- Keep a daily schedule and review your notes on a daily basis
2- Find a space where you quietly review your notes and re-write them if you need to
3- Put on hold your social media until you get things done ... this would be your treat at the end of the day!
4- Read your syllabus and plan ahead of the test by testing your knowledge with quizzes and assignments
5 - When in doubt, find a peer mentor or study group
But the best thing to to is to organize yourself. Number one thing is to have a to do list including the primary and secondary goal. What you really need to work on. Even if you do not get everything done right away. But at least you can make sure you get done some of the most important thing, and cross that out from your list.
Honestly, time management is vital to succeeding, not only in College, but in the "real world" as well! Get yourself some sort of list of daily things to study/review and cross out the task when completed. If you need to roll tasks onto the next day, make sure you write them down FIRST so you don't lose track of them. College prepares you by throwing multiple things at you at once (class, notes, tests, papers, social life, etc.) and it doesn't get any easier when you graduate/leave school. Having a daily study plan now will help you later when work/life tasks arrive in your life. Lastly...BREATHE! It's not that bad and you'll appreciate it later.
All the best to you!
Dan recommends the following next steps:
This is great question and I think it is almost human nature to fall under the spell of procrastination. It is important that you find times not only to study, but to make time for yourself in order to head into the exam as your best self. To solve your procrastination, you can do the following:
Carlos recommends the following next steps:
When I was in school I found that taking the best notes during lectures helped me the most in the long run. Write down every piece of information you hear from your teacher that you think is of importance. By doing this, when it comes time to study for your test (preferably not the day before) all you have to do is look back to your notes from the specific section and you should have all the information you need from there to review. This makes it a lot easier rather than going into the huge class textbook and searching for specific information with thousands of pages.
Nicholas recommends the following next steps:
This is a great question! I had the same issue when I was in college. I worked through it by setting goals and deadlines for myself that were earlier than the actual deadlines were. If I met my own goals/deadlines, I then rewarded myself with free time or doing something I like to do! I think the best students are the ones who have a study plan and study more frequently versus cramming for a test. I am sure you will figure it out! Best of luck to you!
In my own experience, I found that taking small breaks in between my study sessions helped! I also made it a way to study and hang out with friends, like having study sessions with my friends so we could motivate and keep each other in check! Good luck and take your time!
Hi Paige, my biggest advise would be to be organized. Getting used to college life takes time as it is a different life from high school where all your schedule is planned for you. In college, you need to set up your schedule according to what works best for you. I would suggest you to plan your week ahead. If it is too hard at the beginning, start by planning your day ahead. If you are a morning person, you may want to give yourself a study hour at the library early in the morning and then go to your classes. If you think you can concentrate later in the day, have your library hours later in the afternoon or in the evening. Studying in the library helps a lot with motivation since you are surrounded by other students who are studying. Also, some people prefer studying with music on so if that's the type of learner you are, you may want to have your headphones in the library, as well. Joining study groups and attending TA hours for the classes also helps a lot! Good Luck!
Be intentional and strategic in study method. Also keep this in mind as it pertains to school/life balance.
I see you have received various good tips on helping with your time management skills when it comes to keeping track with taking tests. One of the things that help me greatly was keeping a planner. I am old school, but physically having a planner kept me on track on what I had going on for the day, week, month or overall year. I would start my morning looking through my planner and see what I had going on for the day and plan accordingly.
When I received the class syllabus I skimmed it and highlighted test and project/homework deadlines. I will then transfer the dates on to my planner and have a plan of what will be my study dates prior to the test. I made sure to attend classes, effectively take notes and made sure to tackle the reading as soon as possible. This way it was fresh in my "brain" to go back and make side notes to the notes I made in class.
Studying for tests can be stressful, especially if you are having to juggle various items at the same time. Remember to prioritize and manage your time effectively to get the things done you want to complete for the day, week, month, etc. Also, remember self-care is important. Make sure to take care of yourself as well.
I've struggled with procrastination throughout my life and am now getting a master's degree and so had to brush up on how I approached the work in school all over again. Here's what I've found: starting assignments and projects as soon as they're assigned; pacing yourself, if you will, is a good way to approach the work in college (and actually in life!) Spreading things out makes it all more manageable. Working out a schedule and then creating a visual by putting it all down on a calendar THAT YOU WILL ACTUALLY LOOK AT will help. Now...here's something for you to consider; often times, procrastination is a sign of anxiety. It can be us feeling not up to whatever task is being put in front of us; "am I smart enough?" or "if I start, it won't be good, so why start?" And we keep up with these thoughts until we get to a point in time that we realize that we have to have something to hand in and by then it's the night before and while that self-imposed pressure does work for some of us, often waiting 'till the last minute, means that we won't produce our best work and then we get a less-than-stellar grade and that just reinforces our thoughts about our capabilities and it just keeps going round and round...you see what I mean? So, here's a really great, short article that I recommend you read that might just help you change that need to procrastinate:
Be kind to yourself and best of luck!