Some people were able to get through primary and secondary education without good study habits. Once college comes, however, it is not enough to coast by on barely enough effort. My first year in college was the reality check I needed. It was tough to adjust to college with my old study habits that were not so good, so I had to get better at studying in order to get the grades I wanted.
First things first: take good notes. Check out the previous post about note-taking. It might seem strange that the first “study tip” on this list is not technically related to studying. However, studying, at its core, relies on having a strong grasp on concepts and then reinforcing those concepts. While in class, make a genuine effort to take detailed and thorough notes with headings and different types of bullet points.
Review your notes for a little bit every day. This tip is something that is often recommended, but it is difficult to make a habit of. There isn’t really any trick to this tip, except to sit down and review your notes to keep them fresh in your brain. Some things you can do during this review period are to fill in any gaps in your notes by checking in with your classmates and highlight important concepts and headings.
Test yourself with the “slide down” method. I learned this method from one of my professors in undergrad (his philosophy with studying was also that good grades start with good notes!). With your notes (which should have clear headings and subheadings), use a blank piece of paper and slide it down the page, and quiz yourself on the headings.
Study in a group (with acquaintances… not your best friends). Group studying has been quite effective for me, on one condition… Studying with my best friends can be distracting. We end up getting sidetracked and talking about other things. Which I never regret because I had fun, but I have to admit that we were never super productive when trying to study with my best friends.
Teach the topics to others. This can occur in group study sessions so that you can check one another. I’ve found that teaching others and tutoring has reinforced concepts for me. If I can explain the concept to someone else, I can write it down and explain it on a test. Work with others to teach other topics on the test, and check one another if you’re making a mistake.
For math or science classes: do the practice problems. If you professor assigns optional practice problems, do them! It’s a cliche, but practice really does make perfect. Plus, doing the practice problems gives you something to talk about with your professor or TA when going to office hours.
Go to office hours. Find out more on my previous post about going to office hours. At the end of the day, your professor or TA is a strong resource for you. If you are experiencing difficulty solving problems or grasping concepts, your professor or TA can help you out.