5 Study Skills and Techniques for Students Who Want to Succeed in College
The big day has finally arrived, and you are officially a university student. You start attending classes, excited by this big step you’ve taken toward your dream. You sit in class fascinated by everything you learn and spend the rest of the day thinking how fortunate you are that you get to spend the next few years learning so many incredible new things.
And then you have a quiz or an exam, and you find out that, as excited as you were when you first started, you can’t translate your enthusiasm into high grades. If that’s happened to you, you’re not alone.
Students everywhere are facing the same challenge. After all, studying in a university is more intense, and it requires building new skills that we usually don’t learn in high school. Fortunately, it’s never too late to learn.
Study Skill #1: Master the art of note-taking
It happens to everyone. We think we’ll remember something. It’s too important to forget. But we get inundated with so much other stuff – cat videos on YouTube, a silly fight in the family etc. Even if you take notes, it doesn’t mean you are doing it effectively. It’s important to get familiar with note-taking strategies, and finding the one that best fits you.
Some of these include: paying attention to boldface words and headings, reworking main ideas into concepts that are easily understood, being attentive to captions, using different modes of note-taking, including highlighters, sticky notes, index cards, graphs, charts, and diagrams and making sure the notes taken answer/reference the objectives and questions that accompany each lesson.
Study Skill #2: Use Mind Maps
A mind map is a kind of framework. It is a way of helping you to organize, visualize and summarize. Its purpose is to give you a better way to store information on one page. Many topics can be studied and revised easier and more meaningfully by making a mind map.
Many people find that visual elements help them retain information better in their studies, if you’re one of them, we recommend using mind maps. Mind maps can be made by hand or by using a special program on the computer and are used to: take notes in class, find main ideas, revise for the exam, and brainstorm ideas.
Study Skill #3: Read to Yourself Out Loud
Some people memorize best through sound. If you identify yourself as one of them, try reading your course materials to yourself out loud. You can read to yourself out loud at home, and you can also record yourself. Then, take the recording and listen to it in the car or the train. Sometimes you need to hear things more than once, to fully remember or understand them.
Study Skill #4: Teach Others
A great way to get a deep understanding of new material is by teaching it to others.
If you have a friend you can study with, perhaps even someone who’s having challenges with the material, you can offer them to study together. When you teach others, you get a chance to better understand the materials yourself. You need to answer questions that make you go deeper, figuring out problems you didn’t even realize the material presented.
Study Skill #5: Improve Your Time Management Skills
Many students feel like time is managing them. They’re torn between attending classes, going to work, getting stuck in traffic, taking care of family members, running errands, and finding time to eat and sleep. It gets overwhelming, and it’s easy to get to a breaking point. That, in turn, can make you even less productive and successful in the university. Good time management is planning ahead—weeks, months and terms.
Organize your study as effectively as possible. Planning ahead saves time, worry and energy. The next step is prioritizing your tasks – decide which tasks are most important and should be completed first. Other tips for time management are to not put off small task, dividing complex tasks into small tasks, and fixing up your work environment to make it clean and less destructive.
Find the Study Techniques that Work for You
There are many study techniques and skills that you can adopt. Start with picking a few you think will work best for you. Try them for a month and see how they work for you. If you don’t feel an improvement you can always try something different later. Keep experimenting until you find what brings you the best results.
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