Tips For Success

Tip #1

Start studying for finals in the first week of classes. It’s a challenge to study for finals when you may also have projects, papers, and presentations due. Finals are often cumulative, requiring you to combine and apply content from multiple sources covered at various points in the semester. Finals take a toll on your retention and recall; you’ll be expected to retain some information for more than a dozen weeks and apply your knowledge quickly and accurately in those two hours.

Tip #2

If you have to complete a big project, start by making a list of every step needed to complete it. Beside each step, write the target date for completion of that step. Start with the due date and move backward on your calendar to set dates for completion of the steps.

Tip #3

If you want intensive help with time use, study skills, goal planning, or test prep, set up a meeting with an academic coach. An academic coach is like a personal trainer--for your brain.

Tip #4

To combat procrastination, estimate how much time the total task will take. Then set a timer to work 10 minutes. At the end of that time, evaluate whether to continue for another ten minutes, take a break, or stop. Breaking study time into small chunks will be more effective than trying to study for hours. After about 45 minutes your study time is less effective.

Tip #5

Schedule time to review your notes after each class to keep the material fresh in your mind. Reviewing notes keeps you connected to the course and up-to-date, even if you fall behind in reading or completing assignments. Integrate class notes with notes from readings (or other sources) to give you the full picture. Divide your notes into two columns. Record lecture notes in one and corresponding notes from readings in the other. This two-column technique will help you find connections.

Tip #6

Know your body. Study when you are at your most alert. Everyone has peaks and valleys in their alertness during the course of a day, and some research shows we do better on cognitive tasks like studying when we are most alert. If you feel happy and energetic in the morning, that's the time you should schedule your studying.

Tip #7

When reading, turn headings into questions, then read paragraph by paragraph. Tackle long readings by breaking them into smaller chunks: a chapter can be broken into subsections. To make studying more efficient, write two- or three-sentence summaries of readings. Then add a couple of sentences that link the reading to other readings assigned that week or to the week’s topic or a course theme. Connecting readings to the big picture is the kind of thinking and writing called for in exams.

Tip #8

Begin writing papers or planning oral presentations as soon as you get the assignment. Plan your time from the due date, backwards. Don’t leave them to a week before the due date, especially if the due date comes at the end of the semester when you’ll be finishing projects and studying for exams. High quality work take time, even for experienced writers or public speakers.

Tip #9

After you complete a problem, take a minute to jot down in your notes the answers to these questions: (1) What did you learn from working the problem that you want to remember? (2) Can you imagine how the same concepts or problem-solving techniques or procedures might be tested in other ways? (3) What are the exceptions to what you learned? Under what circumstances would these techniques or concepts not be useful?

Tip #10

Sit in the first few rows or middle of the classroom so you’ll be more likely to pay attention. The best way to combat boredom is to practice your listening skills and take notes, even if your instructor posts videos or slides of the lecture. The point is to take notes because writing helps you pay attention and retain information. Be sure to keep your phone and laptop off, too.

Tip #11

Click Tip 11 to view the 2016 Tutoring Brochure.

Tip #12

Find a study environment that is distraction free, with adequate lighting and all your materials at hand. Don’t study in bed. You’ll be sleepy, study less effectively, and destroy your bedtime routine, which can adversely affect your sleep. And a good night's sleep is essential to your studying success.

Tip #13

Be sure to get enough sleep. You'll need to be alert to take in new information--but you also need sleep so that your brain has the opportunity to solidify and help you retain that new information. While you sleep, your brain strengthens connections between areas, assisting in consolidating information and helping you recall it.