Study Tips

Knowing how to study is important!  Therefore we have here a number of different skills that will be useful in helping you be a better and more successful student.  Below are a list of tips and useful skills you should utilize when studying.  We hope you will visit these pages and take a minute to identify ways that can help you achieve academic success.  Click on topics of interest below for more information.

  • Find a quiet environment where you are comfortable.
  • Make sure you have all the tools necessary for studying (pens, pencils, paper, calculator, etc.).
  • Set a regular time for studying.
  • Have a place set aside to jot down random thoughts, for example a lunch date or a phone call you need to make.
  • Relax your body before studying.
  • Picture yourself studying well.
  • Take two minutes to write down everything you expect to study.
  • Utilize the SQ4R Method.
Briefly survey the chapter, noting the divisions, headings, tables, and figures. Read the chapter summary. This provides an overview of the chapter content and a framework for organizing the material.
Turn each section heading into a question that you want answered. Also, try to guess questions that might appear on the exam.
Read the chapter, section by section, trying to answer your questions.
Answer the questions and state the main points verbally. You may also write down the answers and key points for later reference.
First, write the question and then write the answer to the question using only key words, lists, etc.
Briefly look back over the material to assure that you have included all the main points. Reflect on the meaning and application of the major points.
  • Break down assignments into small step-by-step tasks.
  • Set realistic study goals.
  • Keep a pencil in hand while studying to stay active.
  • Review your notes on a daily basis.
  • If there is something you don't understand, talk to your instructor about it.
  • Take a short break every 20 to 40 minutes.
  • Watch what you are eating and drinking while you are studying. Sugar and caffeine don't help you study.
  • Exercise before you study to increase alertness.
  • Get 7 to 9 hours of sleep per 24-hour period. It doesn't have to happen all at one time.
  • Keep pushing to study when you have mental fatigue.
  • Talk about concentration and motivation problems with a friend or student support.
  • Put away your cell phone and avoid surfing on the Internet.
  • Say "no" to your friends when you know you need to study, but do make time to have social activities.

Check Your V.I.T.A.L.S.
 - validate your feelings, the "I don't want to . . . ", there is a real reason for how you feel.
 - imagine yourself doing it peacefully and productively.
 - break down the project into bite-size pieces.
 - encourage your efforts, cheerlead, and coach (e.g., enjoy the feeling of making progress on the project).
 - remember what you are getting out of by doing this (e.g., reducing guilt, shame, or anxiety; avoiding the negative consequences of a bad grade; avoiding the disappointment of a parent or teacher, etc.).
 - add something during or after that you like, reward your efforts (e.g., enjoy the feeling of accomplishment).

  • First examine what you do know about the test.
    • What kind of test will it be? Objective, short answer, essay, multiple choice, etc.
    • How many items will be on the test?
    • How much time will you have for the test?
    • What is the emphasis on the topics? Which topics are most important?
  • Where are you now?
    • What do you need to read?
    • Which lecture notes need to be reworked?
    • Which lecture notes are missing?
    • What other assignments, labs or problems related to the test need to be completed?
  • Plan your study time.
    • List all topics that are going to be on the test, along with important subtopics for each.
    • Survey or skim all the materials to be covered.
    • Read or reread materials that you don't understand.
    • Memorize facts of ideas that are most needed.
    • Develop your own exam questions to understand the material.
    • Create flash cards and review them frequently.

  • Taking Multiple Choice Exams.
    • Clues in the Alternatives.
      • Most General Alternative: Pick the one that has more variability and has the least specific facts.
      • Length: The correct alternative is often the longest.
      • Middle Value: Eliminate extremes and pick from the middle value or values.
      • Two Alternatives Mean the Same: If two choices mean the same, then it is not the right answer.
      • Two Alternatives are Opposites: If there are opposites, one of them is probably correct.
  • True/False Questions.
    • Determinates of False:
      • Always.
      • Never.
      • Only.
      • Necessarily.
      • Merely.
      • Must.
      • All.
      • None.
      • Impossible.
    • Determinates of True:
      • Often.
      • Seldom.
      • Perhaps.
      • Generally.
      • May.
      • Usually.

  • Compare
    When you are asked to compare, you should examine qualities, or characteristics, in order to discover resemblances. The term compare with implies that you are to emphasize similarities, although differences may be mentioned.
  • Contrast
    When you are instructed to contrast, you should stress dissimilarities, differences, or unlikeness of associated things, qualities, events or problems.
  • Criticize
    In a criticism you should express your judgment with respect to the correctness or merit of the factors under consideration. You are expected to give the results of your own analysis and to discuss both limitations and good points.
  • Define
    Definitions call for concise, clear, authoritative meanings. In such statements, details are seldom required, but boundaries or limitations of the definitions should be briefly cited. You must keep in mind the subject to which the item being defined belongs, and whatever differentiates it in this particular class from all other classes.
  • Discuss
    The term discuss, which appears often in essay questions, directs you to examine, analyze carefully and present considerations, pro and con, regarding the problems or items involved. This type of question calls for a complete and detailed answer.
  • Enumerate
    The word enumerate specifies a list or outline form of reply. In such questions you should recount, one by one, in concise form, the points required.
  • Evaluate
    In an evaluation question you are expected to present a careful appraisal, stressing both advantages and limitations. Evaluation implies authoritative and, to a lesser degree, personal appraisal.
  • Explain
    In explanatory answers it is imperative that you clarify, elucidate and interpret the material you present. In such an answer, it is best to state the "how" and "why" and reconcile any differences in opinion or experimental results and, where possible, state causes. The aim is to make plain the conditions which give rise to whatever you are examining.
  • Illustrate
    A question which asks you to illustrate usually requires you to explain or clarify your answer to the problem by presenting a figure, diagram, or concrete example.
  • Interpret
    An interpretation question is similar to one requiring explanation. You are expected to translate, exemplify; solve or comment upon the subject and usually give your judgment or reaction to the problem.
  • Justify
    When you are instructed to justify your answer, you must prove or show grounds for decisions. In such an answer, evidence should be presented in convincing form.
  • List
    Listing is similar to enumeration. You are expected in such questions to present an itemized series or tabulation. Such answers should always be concise.
  • Outline
    An outline answer is organized description. You should give main points and essential supplementary materials, omit minor details, and present the information in a systematic arrangement or classification.
  • Prove
    A question which requires proof is one which demands confirmation or verification. In such discussions you should establish something with certainty, by evaluating and citing experimental evidence, or by logical reasoning, with sufficient example.
  • Relate
    In a question which asks you to show the relationship or to relate your answer should emphasize connection and associations, usually in descriptive form.
  • Review
    A review usually specifies a critical examination. You should analyze and comment briefly, in organized sequence, upon the major points of the problem. Sometimes, however, a review question simply asks for a list.
  • State
    In questions which direct you to specify, state, or present, you are called upon to express the high points in brief, clear language.
  • Summarize
    When you are asked to summarize or present a summary, you should give in condensed form the main points or facts. All details, illustration and elaboration are to be omitted.
  • Trace
    When a question asks you to trace a course of events, you are to give a description of progress, historical sequence, or development from the point of origin. Such questions may call for probing or for deductions.

  1. Use an appointment calendar to keep track of all due dates, meetings and scheduled activities.
  2. Make and use to-do lists every day.
  3. Set priorities. Categorize to-do-list tasks into high, medium and low priorities and focus on high priorities first.
  4. Divide large tasks into several smaller parts. Focus on a small task to complete one part at a time. This will make a big project feel more manageable.
  5. Regularly ask yourself "What is the best use of my time right now?" Do that task.
  6. Anticipate deadlines and foreseeable high stress periods (mid-terms, finals week, deadlines for papers) and plan for extra study hours.
  7. Schedule time for breaks. It can be hard to stay focused when you're tired or hungry. Get up and stretch or have a snack. Keep breaks to 10-15 minutes.
  8. Make time to take care of yourself. Proper sleep, exercise and nutrition help you stay physically fit and mentally alert.
  9. Learn to say "no." Commit yourself only to those activities in which you have time.
  10. Learn to say "later." Postpone phone calls, visits from friends and other interruptions or distractions for breaks or after studying.