Graduate study focuses more on understanding of content rather than just memorization; you will need to hone your study skills to meet the demands and workload of grad school. Self-discipline, motivation and a sense of responsibility are crucial, as you will need to develop and manage your time and work schedules -- and stick to them as well.
Evaluate Study Time
Assess the total time you can allot for studying. Use the time assessment chart of Texas A&M University (found in the Resources section) as a template. Mark an “X” for times that you cannot use for studying, such as hours set aside for sleeping, bathing or work, if you are a working student. Mark a “/” for times that are inconvenient for study but during which you can allow for occasional study in case of examinations or other study emergencies; these can be after work hours, when you would often be too tired to study or times during which frequent interruptions are more likely. However, these flexible study hours should not be taken into account while calculating your total study time. Now, add the unmarked hours for all seven days to get your total weekly study time.
Prepare a study schedule for the study time you evaluated. To effectively manage this time you should prioritize tasks, avoid procrastination and complete assignments depending on their deadlines. Creating short- and long-term study goals enables effective utilization of time. Setting personal deadlines in addition to official ones can help keep you ahead.
Choose Proper Study Locations
Study locations conducive to learning are as important as the study itself. Analyze your environmental preferences. Do you prefer silent atmospheres or do you need sound in the background? Choose spaces with sufficient lighting and ventilation. Use straight-backed chairs and flat desks instead of recliners or sofas, as the latter can induce sleep. If you are considering study spaces outside of your home, choose locations that require minimal travel time. If you are designating a specific area at home as your study space, use this space for study alone and not for reading novels or hobbies; by doing so, your train your mind to a greater state of discipline and concentration when you use the space.
Develop Effective Study Habits
Practice taking notes of class lessons as they happen, and prepare clear concise notes later for study outside the classroom. Keep separate notes for each subject to avoid confusion. Maintain folders to file old exam questions. When you read, read for understanding; consider using the SQ3R technique for better reading comprehension. The “S” in the acronym stands for “Survey,” which requires you to start your study with a survey of the lesson headlines and summaries. “Q” represents “Questions” where you question yourself from what you have read. “Read,” “Recite” and “Review” are the 3Rs: read the content in-depth to answer your questions, recite the content aloud and recall the answers to your earlier questions without looking at the content. Review questions that you have not been able to answer; revisit the relevant sections to find answers. Be sure to take breaks while studying.
Hailing out of Pittsburgh, Pa., David Stewart has been writing articles since 2004, specializing in consumer-oriented pieces. He holds an associate degree in specialized technology from the Pittsburgh Technical Institute.