Study Skills

Photo of student studyingDid you know that you will need about 2-3 hours of study time per week for every unit that you are enrolled in?

And, yes, this is OUTSIDE of the time that you will spend in the classroom!  So if you are enrolled in 12 units this semester, you should expect to study at least 24-36 hours per week…maybe even longer depending on the class content or if you are preparing for an upcoming exam.

But, having good study skills is not all that it takes to achieve success.  Aside from study skills, it will be important for you to have the motivation, confidence, and commitment to achieve your goals.  You may have the time to study, but it’s what you do during that time that makes the difference!

Here are some quick tips for improving your study time:

Create your own study space.  Whether your study space is in the library or in your bedroom, identify a place where you will not be distracted by roommates, friends, and/or family members.  If you plan to study at home, create a study space that is ready for you with good lighting, supplies within your reach, and a comfortable desk.  It is important to prepare your space before you sit down because the last thing that you want to do is get a headache from poor lighting, lose focus because you have to keep getting up to find a pen or pencil, or complain of an achy back because your desk is not as comfortable as the sofa in the living room.

Create a study schedule.  Having a consistent study schedule keeps you organized and focused.  If possible, try to study immediately after class so that the information is fresh in your mind.  If that isn’t possible, try to study during your best learning time of the day.  For example, if you find it hard to stay awake past 10:00 pm, then don’t schedule your study time at night… study when you are most alert and awake during the day.  And, lastly, try to study at the same time every day so your schedule becomes natural to you.  (And so that you have something exciting to look forward to!)

Set a study goal.  As you prepare your study schedule, it is important to know what you are going to study.  Having a goal prevents you from being overwhelmed and stressed out from studying everything at once.  If you are trying to study for 3 or 4 classes, set a goal for each class and follow through with it.  Also, it will be helpful to know exactly what you plan to study.  For example, if you need to reach 2 chapters for Sociology, make sure that you know which chapters those are.  Keep your syllabus as a guide to keep you on track.

Let other people know that you are going to study.  If you live at home or have roommates, let them know what your goals are for college so that they can be supportive of your study time.  Also, once people see you sitting at your designated “study space,” they (hopefully!) will know not to bother or distract you.

Say “goodbye” to your cell phone for at least 2 hours.  Ugh…it always seems like your best friend urgently wants to talk to you as soon as you take out your Geography homework.  But wait…you don’t have to answer the phone!  Really…you can ignore it until AFTER you are done with your studying!  And don’t let the beep of an incoming text distract you either.  If you really, really, really, really, really need to respond, a quick “Gotta study; ttyl8r” works just fine.

Take a break every 50 minutes if needed.  Give yourself a break to refresh and to stretch.  However, make sure that this so-called “break” is only 5-10 minutes long.  A break does not mean that you can make phone calls, watch television, heat up a frozen dinner, and respond to your email messages!

Have a positive attitude about studying.  Don’t start the next two hours of your study time with the thought of “This is sooooo boring; I’d rather be playing Xbox Kinect.”  With that attitude, you will surely sabotage your study time…and no one likes self-sabotage!  Instead, think about your own educational goals and how doing well in your classes will help you to make progress.

Don’t allow yourself to get stuck.  There is always going to be that one math problem that you can’t seem to solve no matter how hard you try.  If this happens, move onto the next problem and then return to the original problem later on.  Sometimes you need to just take a detour to avoid feeling frustrated or confused.  And, if you can’t seem to get it, know that there are tutors on campus who can assist you.

Use a calendar or planner.  Trying to remember what you need to do for 4 classes can be overwhelming, especially when exams and assignments are given at different times.  It is easier to prioritize your study time when you know about important dates coming up.  Using a calendar or planner will help you to keep organized so that you know what needs to be done first.

Be kind to yourself.  It is important to eliminate the negative babble that sometimes happens in your head.  Those babbles include thoughts like “What was I thinking signing up for college” or “I’ll never pass this class.”  If there is anything that is going to get you through college, it is believing in yourself and your abilities to succeed!  YOU  CAN  DO  IT!!!