2 answers

What's your most effective study habit?

Asked Buffalo, New York

I'm trying to do better with my studying and need some advice on what may or may not work.


2 answers

Kim’s Answer

Updated San Antonio, Texas


The most important thing is to stay on top of it, rather than cramming! That is, read the assignments prior to the lectures. Even if the professor gives you powerpoint handouts, take your own notes, in words that help you to comprehend it! Shortly after class, reconcile the readings, your notes, and the handouts. Make a note of anything that still is not making sense, so you can follow up on it with classmates or the teacher.

As to actual studying, at the beginning of the semester, try to get the teacher to tell you where she derives her test material from: some test almost exclusively over the books, others - the lectures. It helps to know what it is you need to study.

Books: Use whatever resources come with the book. A lot of them have on-line study material.

Vocabulary: I like to make old-fashioned flashcards, and carry them with me so I can study in my free time. Remember to study both front and back. That is, given a definition, what is the word; as well as, given a word, what is the definition?

theories and concepts: Make diagrams, flowcharts, etc. Whatever will help you to visualize it. Creatic mnemonics (SAT: Scholastic Aptitude Test, for example). Draw pictures if you need to. Illustrate stories, if that is your thing. Create outlines. Form study groups.

I find that simply writing and re-writing, or highlighting, does not result in retention. I really need to be able to visualize. But, everyone learns differently. Say your vocabulary words out loud. Create a song with them. You want to find a way to make studying less boring, and the material exciting.

Take breaks! Try the pomodoro studying technique (google it!) Also, there is a course called Learning How to Learn, available through Coursera.org I believe it is still free. It is very interesting!! It is really important that you know your learning style!

Above all, take care of yourself! Eat, sleep, and exercise, as you should. Don't go for junk food and snacks. Study when you are alert. And try to space out the difficult classes, so you don't have more than two per semester!

Hope some of this is useful!

Best of luck!


Austin’s Answer

Updated Washington, Washington

Hey Victoria, really great question. I just graduated college not to long ago and got asked this question many times by friends, family, and students just starting out at college. Below are a few of the tricks that I learned which will hopefully help you study smarter and more efficiently.

  1. Laptop- By this I mean you should not be bringing your laptop to lectures or any classes. Most teachers will allow you to bring in your laptop so as to take notes, but this is a bad idea. It is so very easy to get distracted and check your Facebook, read the news, watch cat videos, and pretty much do anything other than the task at hand. Leave your laptop in your dorm and use that old fashioned notebook and pencil to take notes. You'll grasp the material better as writing things down, I've found, engrains the material in my mind much better than typing out notes. Also because there is no way you can write down everything your professor says, handwriting your notes will force you to only write down that which is the most important.
  2. Understanding your professor- Every professor is different and grades on different criteria. Get to know your professor's grading style and what they look for. Professors will often tell you upfront what they want to see when you write an essay or when you take a test. Tailor your essays and tests to how to professor grades, don't use the same method for all your classes as professors are different. Some may call this "gaming the system", but this is just a good habit to develop and you'll spend less time worrying as you'll be prepared to tailor your tests/essays to the professor.
  3. Talk to your peers- Befriend people in your classes. It can be easy to not be social and cut yourself off from class. Don't be a robot and just show up, take notes, and leave. Befriending people in your classes not only can enable you to make new friends, expand your network, and get to know interesting people, but it also provides you with a great study-buddy. If you've got a question on an assignment now you have someone to text. If you missed a lecture because you were sick, now you have someone to get notes from.
  4. Start early- It may seem cool to pull all-nighters in the library the day before an essay is due but it honestly not fun and a really miserable experience. Save yourself from unnecessary stress, pain, tears, and late night phone calls to your parents by starting things early. Start that essay a week before its due (or earlier) and knock it out before the 11th hour. I did this throughout college and found myself done with the essay with DAYS to spare. I was able to watch my classmates and friends pull all-nighters and write mediocre essays all because I was proactive.

These are just a few of the things I've found to be helpful. Feel free to ask more questions should you have any.