10 Best Study Tips For College Students

This is not a b.s post where a random blogger puts a list together with a mix of info from similar blog posts. These are real things I’ve struggled with. Whenever I don’t follow one these rules, my grades suffer. I’m a very smart person and on the surface, my school life is together, but sometimes I don’t write things down in my planner or read a chapter from the textbook and things fall through the cracks. Nobody’s perfect. With that said, I’m including stories from when I broke these rules below in order to solidify that you should do this stuff. Without further ado,  here are the best study tips I could muster for college (or high school) students.

1.//Make A Plan

I am a planner by nature. I like to be prepared for anything that comes my way. Things don’t always go that way, but I find it’s easier to get things done when I have an idea of what the next step is.

With that said, there is a lot of things you can do when it comes to planning for school, whether that’s reading the textbook the summer before or looking up your professor online. The first thing you should do when making a plan is to read your syllabus. Your syllabus has the dates for all the tests, quizzes, assignments, and lessons. It should be your bible for the semester.

At the beginning of the semester, fill out one calendar with all the information from the syllabus for all your classes. Don’t just put in the assignment and test dates. Most syllabi show more than that. You’re professor also gives you the topics and chapter of every lecture plus the date. Knowing what lesson you are learning beforehand is a great help, even when you didn’t read the chapter.

2.//Get And Stay Organized

Every “Study Tips” blog post tells you this, but I’m telling you again. Being organized is imperative! Every bad grade or missed assignment I’ve had in school has been prefaced by poor planning and organization.

I could write a whole post on this, but here are some main points:

a. Fill Out Your Planner – I know I just said this, but at the beginning of the semester write down all important dates in you planner. At the beginning of every week, schedule everything you need to get done. I wrote a post on how I use my planner here.

b. Look At Your Planner Everyday – There were some weeks where I would go days at a time not looking at or filling out my planner and that showed in my work and productivity. Don’t make the mistake I made. By looking at your planner every day, you’ll have a blueprint for everything you need to do. Who doesn’t want that?

c. Make Daily To-Do Lists – Crossing things off my to-do list is SO satisfying for me. It always motivates me to get things done. My planner has a daily to-do list section, so I try to take full advantage of that. Days where everything is crossed off are so rare but so worth it.

d. Create A Consistent Schedule – There was an apparent difference in my grades and productivity at the beginning of my first and second semester. And that was because of my schedule. Because I hadn’t set a daily routine as fast in my second semester, I was significantly less productive and organized, which reflected in my grades (They were still good, but could’ve been better.) My first-semester routine was much more balanced because I had carved out time to study, go to the gym, hang out with friends, etc. Having a balanced routine will definitely indirectly improve your grades because you’ll be using your time wisely.

e. Keep Your Papers Organized – Digital or otherwise, make sure you know where all your notes, worksheets, etc. are because there is nothing more stressful than losing your homework.

3.//Pay Attention In Class

You should also show up for class, but that should be a given. You’re paying for them one way or another, but dozing off is also a waste of money in my book. Here’s the first step:  Don’t take your laptop to class. Don’t even open it. My high school gave us laptops and I know that they were a distraction for everyone. I knew it would be even worse in college because things like Facebook and Youtube and Fanfiction wouldn’t be blocked, so I made it a rule to never take out my laptop in class.

Mosts people say that the next step is to take notes by hand, but I don’t fully agree with that. I definitely think that if you’re going to take notes you should take them by hand, but sometimes it’s better to just listen to the lecture. I used to be that person who takes notes even though the slides will be posted online, but I stopped doing that because I would miss things my professor was saying.

By the end of the semester, I was sitting at the front of the class without a paper in front of me just listening and answering questions. I would take out a sheet of paper if I needed to, of course, but I didn’t just copy off of the slide. I was able to pay more attention.

(If your professor doesn’t post their lecture online, you should definitely write notes, but make sure you’re paying attention to everything they are saying.)

4.//Study Alone

Veering away from other bloggers’ advice, I don’t think study groups work. I study much more efficiently when I’m alone. I think it’s because students treat study groups more as a social outlet than an academic one. They end up just sharing answers and giving bits and pieces of information from class while talking about other stuff. I’d rather keep my study and social time separate so that I can be present for both. I get much more out of it that way.

5.//Use Lecture Slides

The lecture slides are your best friends. They have all the information you need for the test and make your life SO much easier. It’s a built-in study guide right there on your computer. Sure, your teacher may add a few bits and pieces here and there, but the lecture slides are nothing like the ones in high school. They have all the information you need. I’ve found that college professors are much more thorough in making them than high school teachers because they know a lot of students don’t show up.

But you’ll never be one of those people, right?

I have skipped classes a few times, but I try not to because it’s a waste of money. Sometimes, a girl just needs a mental health day. The fact that all my teachers posted their lecture slides online made me more comfortable in doing so.

6.//Read Textbooks Effectively And On Time

Read the chapter when your professor tells you to read the chapter. If not to prepare for the lecture, read it for the pop quizzes. There are pop quizzes on the chapters you read. Trust me. Even the professors who say they don’t give pop quizzes will give you one at least once.

In terms of reading it effectively, don’t read the whole thing. It’s a waste of time and you’ll get the same amount of information using the method I’m telling you now. Read the introduction, conclusion, and the first and last sentence of each paragraph. If the book is written well, which most are, all the important information is in those lines. Everything else is just used to fill up space. You can go back and reread it later.

7.//Do Your Homework

They don’t give it to you just for sport. For a lot of courses, you can get all the studying you should get done by just doing your homework. Especially for math and history classes because homework for those requires you to answer problems or read the textbook and answer questions. It’s a lot more useful than passively studying.

8.//Go To Office Hours Or Get A Tutor

Before high school, I had assumed that tutoring was only for people who needed help passing classes, but now I believe that smart people get tutors. They don’t let it bruise their pride. I can honestly say that I wouldn’t have gotten an A in chemistry in ninth grade if it weren’t for my tutor.

Especially do this if you have crappy professors. I learned better on my own with my tutor (who was a med student) than with my chemistry teacher at the time. It really helps to get one-on-one attention.

9.//Answer Practice Questions

You guys probably already know that I’m a nerd. I get good grades and like to learn. But here’s the thing: I’m a sh*tty test taker. I suck at exams. They do not measure my intelligence AT ALL. If you talk to me about the topic, you can tell I know my stuff, but it doesn’t show on paper. I’m the one who teaches other people in my class the concepts they don’t understand, and they still get a better grade than me.

I don’t think I’ll ever get over this problem, but I have gotten by all these years. This is because I’ve done practice questions.

I get so much more out of answering practice questions than reading the textbook. This is because it allows me to actively engage with the information I’m learning rather than passively reading it.

10.//Sleep

Remember how I said in the intro that I’ve suffered by not following these tips at one time or another. Well, not with this one. This is because I always get enough sleep. It is my top priority. If I don’t get at least 6  hours of sleep, I can’t function. It’s better for me to sleep in and be late for a class, than not sleep at all. I’d end up not paying full attention in class, procrastinate on homework, and just be an overall less healthy person.

I hear so many people brag about how they spent the whole night studying and doing homework. I went to a high school where staying up late was a badge of honor. Everyone would always be so surprised when I told them that I had always gotten more than 7 hours of sleep.

School work doesn’t take up as much time as we think it does. Students procrastinate and don’t use their time effectively. Did you stay up till 5 AM writing your research paper? How many weeks did you know about it and how long did you play video games last night? I’ve even turned in things late because I needed to sleep and I could feel anxiety coming (a post on that later).

This is a true story. In my high school, there was a thing called Hersch Notes, named after the AP US History teacher. This man was notorious for making everyone write thorough notes on every chapter of the textbook. He was strict, but a very good teacher. He told us that those notes take six hours at first and that we’d maybe be able to shave them down to four hours after we got used to it. We’d get ’em once or twice a week.

People would be up late at night writing these notes, but by the end of first semester, I would be done with them by 9 o’clock. See, I knew that doing little by little over a few days wouldn’t work for me because it would take more time overall. I did it the day before like most people, but not because of procrastination. I didn’t stress over it at all. I just finished my other work early and start writing an hour after I got home. I didn’t take any breaks. I’d just sit and write the notes for hours, taking brief walks, drinking water, and eating dark chocolate chips to keep me focused.

These notes definitely built up my studying endurance which was the point. Mr. Hersch was trying to prepare us for college. All the people who had him talk about how other college students are finding the college workload to be too much, but we’re all pretty stress-free.

To get to the point, because I always made sure to be asleep at a certain time in order get 8 hours, I would spend less time procrastinating because I knew that I had limited hours. This allowed me to work more efficiently. Plus, scientists say that sleep helps your brain process the information from that day, so that’s helping your grades right there.


Well, that’s it for this post guys. I hope it helps. I know a lot of people who are taking summer classes, so I hope this helped.

 

What study tips would you add to this list?

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