Study Techniques

The college workload is much different than that of high school and techniques that may have worked then may not be able to suit your needs any longer. Classes are conducted to review and expand upon assignments and course readings, not the other way around! It has been found that for each hour you spend in a given class, 2 - 3 hours of studying should be done on your own time. Setting a regular study schedule during free time will help you better grasp the material and prepare for exams. Take advantage of any down-time you may have to review class material.

​Your Textbook is Your Friend!

In high school, you may have never had to crack a book to do well, or a cursory scan of the material may have been enough to get an A on the exam. But in college, professors expect you to read, take notes on, and reflect upon the text BEFORE the lecture. A single lecture may cover multiple, densely-packed chapters. In order to get the most out of your reading, you may have to alter the way you read. For more information on using and taking notes on your textbook, check out this comprehensive note-taking guide from Dartmouth College.

​Transform Your Study Materials

When studying, the more active you are, the more information you will retain. Good study techniques take notes and readings and transform them into a useful package to help you boil down the material into its essential parts, and understand the connections between concepts. Some examples of these transformations:

  • ​​Outline the material
  • Create concept maps of the key points
  • Organize historical or chronological material in timelines
  • Write out flash cards for key words, formulas, or vocabulary
  • Create your own exams
  • Be creative! The more you invest in making interesting study materials, the more you will learn.

​A Problem a Day Keeps Bad Grades Away!

Alternating the kinds of materials you work on has been shown to increase your ability to focus and absorb materials. Studying one subject for long stretches of time is not effective. For Math, Chemistry, and Physics, problem solving is a skill that you will build throughout the semester, and those departments strongly recommend completing one practice problem per day to keep those skills sharp.

​Two Heads Are Better Than One

When used right, study groups can be extremely helpful. Uniting with others who are learning the same material helps drive you to accomplish more with your time! Also, you can ask each other questions and quiz one another with questions. Just remember: study groups are for studying, it’s easy to get off topic when even one member is distracted.

​Location! Location! Location!

Avoid places or areas where you can get easily distracted - such as loud cafeterias or your bedroom. Find a place where you can tune all of your focus towards studying without distraction. Studies have shown that changing the location that you study helps you retain the information better. Here are some great places on campus which provide a great atmosphere for studying:

  • Atrium in the Humanities Building
  • Library North Reading Room & Central Reading room
  • 3rd and 4th floor of the Main Library Stacks
  • Health Sciences Center Library
  • 6th and 7th floor lounges of the Social and Behavioral Science Building
  • SAC 3rd floor lounge
  • Commuter lounges in the SAC and Library
  • Psychology Building 2nd floor lounge
  • Residential Quad Lounges
  • Undergraduate College Centers

​Additional Study Resources