You went to class and did your homework, but you’re still unhappy with your final grade. Chances are, a few tweaks to your study habits will help you get the grade that you desire. Most college students can’t just go to class and earn a spot on the dean's list. Good study habits are critical to high performance. Going to class is the first step, but there are many other study tips for students that can make the difference. What are good study habits for college?
Check out these 10 study tips for college students.
1. Outline Your Notes
Taking notes is half of the battle. Understanding what you wrote down will help you actually comprehend the material. Set aside time after class to outline your notes. Create a system that works best for you. Make categories for the content and fill in each section with supplementary information from your textbook. If you come across something that doesn’t make sense, write it down on a separate sheet of paper so that you can ask your professor for clarification.
2. Create a Study Guide
Class notes won’t suffice as a study guide. When it comes time to study for a big exam, create a unique study guide. Often, professors will provide hints about the test questions. Use that information to dig deeper into the content. You can even write your own version of the test as a way to enhance your study guide. Review your study guide, along with your class notes and chapter summaries.
3. Form a Study Group
There is strength in numbers. Ask some of your peers to study in a group. You can compare notes, talk through subject matter and even help each other expand your understanding of the material. A key study tip for students is to consider becoming a leader of the study group. If you serve as a teacher of the material, you will become an expert by default.
4. Use Flash Cards
Don’t underestimate the power of flash cards as a study tool for a college exam. Even just identifying and writing the content on the flash cards will help you solidify the information. If you write the question on one side of the card and the answer on the other, you can practice the flash cards on your own or with a study buddy.
5. Meet With Your Professor
A good study habit for college is to regularly interact with your teachers. Your professors have required office hours that are dedicated to student meetings. Schedule a meeting with your professor to go over some of the questions you generated when you outlined your notes. Even if you don’t have questions, talking about the class content will deepen your understanding and send the message to your professor that you are a dedicated student. Brownie points can make the difference if your grade is teetering between an A and a B.
6. Use Word Association
If vocabulary, theories or concepts are a part of an upcoming test, try creating a word association game. Use a humorous analogy or something that is meaningful to jog your memory. It may seem silly or meaningless to someone else, but if it helps you remember the content, that’s all that matters.
7. Avoid Cramming For a Test
A critical study tip for students is to avoid waiting until the night before the exam to study. Pace yourself. Schedule regular study sessions one month before a scheduled exam. Small spurts of studying will help you absorb the information more fully. If you cram the night before, you’re less likely to master the content.
8. Practice Study Habits
It is important to practice proper study habits. Pick a quiet place on or off-campus that offers you an ideal study environment. Visit your study place each day. Ensure that it is a place that is free of distractions and try turning off your phone while you are studying. Soon, your mind will recognize your study place as a signal to focus and get things done.
9. Take a Break
Did you know that taking a break is a good study habit for college? Don’t starve your schedule of fun and relaxation. You will be more likely to buckle down if you incorporate some time to free your mind of the stress of studying. Just be sure that your breaks don’t outweigh your study time.
10. Take Care of Yourself
A good study habit for college is to nurture your body with a wellness approach. After all, you can’t be a top performer if you don’t have adequate sleep and nourishment. Be sure to get eight hours of sleep each night, especially before an exam. Never operate on an empty stomach and don’t rely on caffeine to get you through class.
Dr. Kelly Meier earned her doctorate from Minnesota State Mankato in Educational Leadership. She is the author and co-author of 12 books and serves as a consultant in K-12 and higher education. Dr. Meier is is a regular contributor for The Equity Network and has worked in education for more than 30 years.