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Student Success Starts Here: Study Skills

A collection of tips and tools to help you successful.

Study Skills Tips

Set goals. It can be hard to get motivated to study when you don’t have a clear goal in mind. Set a goal of how much you want to get done and try your best to meet it.

Use the syllabus. Your syllabus will let you know when and how fast you’ll be covering topics in your class. You can use it to get ahead when you have extra time or to know when and what you’ll need to work on each day to keep up. Learn what works for you. Different methods work better for different people. If you’re struggling with a certain way you’ve been studying, try something else. You may find it takes you less time and that you get a lot more out of it by making a simple change.

Study difficult subjects first. There’s no sense in putting off the worst for last — it will only encourage you to procrastinate and get less done in the long run. Get the hard stuff out of the way and you’ll have a much happier rest of the day.

Work in short blocks with breaks. You won’t be doing yourself any favors by pulling marathon study sessions with no breaks. Studies have shown that the most effective way to get through material is to go through it in smaller sessions and to give your mind and eyes time to rest in between with short breaks.

Team up with classmates. There’s no need to study alone if you can get more out of working with your classmates. Sometimes collaboration can be a much faster way to get through material, and it can be a great help if you’re struggling with certain concepts. Just make sure your study sessions don’t get too off track.

Avoid skipping class. While everyone skips a class now and again to catch up on sleep, work or to get other things done they feel are more pressing, try not to make a habit of it. Attending class will make it easier for you to keep up with the material and will give you the chance to ask questions.

Create a strategy. You’ll get the most out of your study time if you go into it with a strategy in mind. Focus on certain subjects first or spend a little extra time on topics that you struggle with. Whatever you do, make sure it works for you and makes the most of your time.

Prioritize. If you’ve got a number of homework assignments, focus on the ones that are due the soonest or that will take you the most time first. Once you get those out of the way you’ll feel better about concentrating on the others.

Don’t wait until the last minute. While for most people this is easier said than done, waiting until the last minute to complete homework is not only stressful but it can mean that you get a lot less out of the work that you put in. Give yourself enough leeway with time to ensure you won’t have to rush around to get things done.

Get ahead if you can. If you find that you have some extra time in your day, use it to get ahead in the classes that you can. You’ll thank yourself later, on a day when you have loads of extra work to do and you’ll have one less thing to worry about.

Assign a specific amount of time the project should take. One way to keep yourself moving forward and not to waste time is to assign a specific amount of time that you think a project should take and try to fit it into that time frame. Sometimes this isn’t always possible, but if you know about how long it takes you to complete a certain kind of assignment, it can help keep you on task.

Work smarter. You don’t have to work harder to get more done, just smarter. If you know you have two projects that need research at the library, work on both at the same time and save yourself an extra trip. For research assignments, do your preliminary research FIRST before you start writing. That way, you can better pick an appropriate subject that is more easily researched.

Set mini deadlines. If you know you’re a chronic procrastinator, you can help keep yourself working on homework assignments, especially larger ones, by creating mini-deadlines within the assignment. This will help to keep you working through the assignment and prevent it from all having to be done at the last minute.

Ask for help. Sometimes you’ll have assignments that you simply won’t understand no matter how many times you look through them. While figuring things out on your own is rewarding, at a certain point it can be much more time efficient to simply ask for help from your professors or classmates. Remember, there are also tutors available in the SLC who can help with writing and organizing papers.

Don’t put off projects you’re dreading. No one wants to think about starting a giant project that isn’t due until the end of the semester. The problem is that projects like these usually get put off until the end of the semester, and then you have very little time to put them together. If you’re dreading a project, do it little by little or just get it out of the way all at once. You’ll feel a million times better once it’s out of the way and you won’t have to wo worry about it anymore.

Courtesy of OTIS College of Art and Design

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