Study Skills

Below you will find tips that can help you develop better study habits and help you become a more successful student. Use these tips to help you identify a learning strategy that is most effective for you.

Time Management

How you manage your time can be crucial to your academic success. Especially as you start your college career, it is essential to learn how to balance your time so you can use it most effectively. Some tips to assist you in your time management are as follows.

Find a way to keep track of your time.

  • Prepare a term calendar.
  • Keep a daily/weekly planner.
  • Use to-do lists
  • To-do lists can be used to prioritize tasks that need to be completed on a daily basis.

Record your planned school activities using your class syllabus.

  • Assignment and paper due dates
  • Exam dates
  • Record outside-of-class activities as well.

Avoid Procrastination

If you have ever found yourself realizing you have wasted hours on Facebook the day before a paper is due, or out with friends when you have an exam early the next day, chances are you are an experienced procrastinator. Luckily there are some concrete steps you can follow to help you take action and finish your work on time (and maybe even ahead of time). When you feel like procrastinating, the key is to take action and GET STARTED. The key to overcoming procrastination is to find motivation to study. Different methods that can be used to motivate yourself to study are as follows:

  • Reward yourself for studying. (Ice cream or dinner with a friend, or whatever motivates you.)
  • Study with friends. (Especially if you can stay motivated, studying with others allows you to quiz each other on information which can be beneficial.)
  • Remind yourself of long-term goals. (Graduation or future career, for example)
  • Eliminate distractions. (Challenge yourself to put your cell phone on silent and to avoid email and Facebook on your computer.)
  • Develop interest in what you have to study.
  • Take breaks. (If you study for 30 minutes, take a 5-minute break and then start your studying after your break is over.)
  • Establish a comfortable environment (Find out what works for you. Some people study best in the library in silence, others at home with the TV on.)
  • Establish reasonable goals for a study session

Textbook Reading

One study skill that is especially important when you start college is the ability to read and comprehend your textbooks. If you are like most students, you have good intentions when you crack open your textbook. Unfortunately, by the time you finish the first paragraph of the chapter, you are likely thinking about supper rather than the class you are reading for:

The following SQRW strategy may help you more successfully read for your classes.

  • SQRW approach is an effective way to read textbooks. (Survey, question, read, and write)
  • Survey: Survey the chapter for main ideas.
  • Before you start the chapter start with the summary or review questions at the end of the chapter to have a clear idea what the chapter is about overall, before you delve into the details of the chapter.
  • Make sure you take note of terms, definitions, headings, and so forth as you skim.
  • Question: Think of questions as you read the textbook.
    • The questions will help you read the text actively rather than passively.
  • If you have a difficult time coming up with questions, use the chapter headings to develop them.
  • Write: Write down the questions you come up with as you read, and write the answers to the questions as you find them.
  • This will not only help you to read more actively, but it will also help you when you study for your exam.
  • (If you are an auditory learner, it may be helpful to read your textbook aloud)

General Study Skills


Test preparation can include many factors including WHAT to study, WHEN to study, and HOW to study. Especially if the concept of studying for an exam is new to you, the tips that follow will help you successfully prime yourself for your next exam.


  • Use instructor clues to identify what may be on the exam.
  • Textbook, notes, and lecture
  • Check to see if old exams from previous semesters are available.
  • Any time information is repeated it is likely it will be on your exam.


  • Prepare for exams from the first day assignments are made.
  • Depending on the exam it may be beneficial to start studying a week or so in advance.
  • When studying use the 30-3-2 schedule:
    • Thirty minutes to study, three minutes for a break, two minutes to review before you resume studying.
  • Never study for more than two hours at a time.
  • Cramming does not work!


  • Review notes on a regular basis.
  • Test yourself.
  • Use study groups.
  • Keys to remembering:
    • Be interested: Establish a need to remember.
    • Visualize: Picture what you need to remember.
    • Relate: Form associations between the new ideas and the information that you already know.
    • Repeat: In order to remember information it is better to over learn the information. It is easier to remember information when it is in your own words.


While how you take notes in class is a crucial part of the note-taking process, it is also important to consider the steps that come before and after you take notes in class. The three-step process is as follows:

note-taking is a three-step process:

  • Before class:
    • Review notes from previous class period.
    • Make sure to complete all readings before class.
    • Bring all of your note-taking materials to class with you (pencils and so forth).
  • In class:
    • Be attentive.
    • Write quickly and abbreviate when possible.
    • Make marks by parts of the notes you still have questions about or need to clarify after class.
    • Use different note-taking methods to allow for more organized notes.
  • After class:
    • Review your notes within 48 hours of when you take them so you can remember the context of your notes.
    • If helpful, rewrite your notes so they are easier to understand and review before your exam.
    • If necessary, check with your professor about questions you have about their lecture.

Test Anxiety

Test anxiety is a common problem many students encounter. Often no matter how much they study, when it comes time to take the exam, students will be overwhelmed by their anxiety. While some amount of anxiety can be beneficial and help motivate you to study, at a certain point test anxiety can be detrimental. The following information will help you identify if you have test anxiety and what you can do to curb it before you take your next exam.

  • Symptoms of test anxiety include:
    • Lack of confidence (no matter how much you study)
    • Physical discomfort (stomach ache, headache, difficulty breathing, tension in muscles and so forth)
    • Drawing a blank when taking tests
    • Scoring lower on tests than on assignments and papers.
    • Being able to recall information after a test that you could not recall when you took the exam.
  • Things you can do to deal with test anxiety:
    • Do not worry about other students finishing the exam before you.
    • Once you finish your exam, forget about it temporarily.
    • Analyze the test once it has been returned to you.
  • Additional services for test anxiety are available through the Center for Academic Success and the Counseling Center.
  • The Counseling Center offers one-on-one counseling as well as workshops for test anxiety.

Additional Resources

If you are interested in finding out additional information about study skills, check into the following study skills websites: