Study Skills

The majority of college success is due to motivation and time management.  Anyone who tells you that they can get through college without studying, or that they make great grades without studying is pulling your leg.  Success in college takes effort.
This means that if you want to do well you must be willing to set aside time to study.  You may have to sacrifice at times.  However, effective time management will allow adequate time for school as well as a social life or free time to do the activities that you most enjoy.

We have ideas and tools that will help you manage your time more wisely.

Motivation Problem Areas Suggestions
Reading Effectiveness
Improving Memory General Study Hints
Motivation is the key to success in school. Although we can provide you with some helpful hints to enhance motivation, we cannot motivate students. You are responsible for your study habits, for seeking resources and assistance, and for managing your time. You have to want to do well enough to put forth the effort.

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Five major problems for students who study
Not studying enough
Wasting time when studying (Have you ever read 2 or 3 pages of material only to discover that you cannot remember any of the material that you have just read?)
Having trouble getting ready to study ("Before I study my laundry must be done, the bathroom must be clean, I need to have all of my errands run, etc.")
Finding a good place for studying.
Using a good learning strategy.

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The following suggestions
will help you avoid these problems
  SET UP A SCHEDULE. Allocate more time for the most difficult classes. Make sure that you allot time for recreation and social activities. (You need to reward yourself for your hard work!)   And follow your schedule.
  START STUDYING FOR 10-15 MINUTES AT A TIME AND THEN BUILD UP TO LONGER PERIODS OF TIME. Most study skills programs suggest reading for 10-15 minute increments your freshman year, 20 minutes your sophomore year, 25 minutes your junior year, 30 minutes your senior year and 45 minutes to an hour in graduate school. So, work towards reading for longer periods of time. Just remember to be realistic. If you can no longer concentrate or remember what you have read, stop. There's no sense in wasting your valuable time.
  TAKE BREAKS. Take breaks when studying. The average attention span for one task is approximately 20 minutes. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO CRAM! Study small portions of material, take a break and then study some more. We retain a great deal more if we learn in small manageable portions, than when we attempt to learn a great deal of information at once. Make these breaks mandatory. Even if you are enjoying your reading or studying, take some breaks. You do not want to get burned out.
  REWARD YOURSELF. Reward yourself for studying, learning a difficult concept, or completing a project. Go to a movie, spend time with your friends, or do the things you put off in order to study. This reinforces your behavior. You are more likely to study again and concentrate if you know there is a reward at the end of completing a task.
  FIND A GOOD LOCATION. Where you study can influence your concentration and your study habits as well. Make sure you are comfortable, but not too comfortable. Sitting at a desk is preferable to lying in bed.
  USE THE SAME PLACE FOR STUDYING. This will help you associate that particular location with studying and will facilitate concentration.
  MAKE SURE IT IS A QUIET PLACE. Seeking a quiet well-lit study area is equally important. A radio blaring in the background, a stereo blaring next door, and the sounds of an interesting conversation are but a few of the factors that can disturb a study area.
  ELIMINATE THE OBVIOUS DISTRACTIONS. Some of the more common distractions are telephone calls or friends and family stopping by to chat. Put up the newspapers, magazines, and unfinished projects. Even the sight of a textbook from another class can serve as a reminder of how far behind you are in another class, causing you to waste time worrying. Once you become aware of these simple distractions, you can eliminate them and improve your study skills.
  REMEMBER THAT MEMORY IS "CONTEXT DEPENDENT." Studying in a physical situation similar to the one in which you will be tested increases your chances to recall information. (This is another reason why studying in bed does not work!) Make your studying situation as similar as possible to the testing situation. When possible, go review your materials in the classroom.
  MEMORY IS ALSO "STATE DEPENDENT." Studying in an emotional mood similar to the one you experience during tests increases your chances to recall studied information. When studying, keep the same focus and enhanced attention you have in your tests. Being too relaxed during your study time would not match the level of activation you reach during your tests. You need to increase your concentration and activation levels while studying to increase your chances to recall the studied material when tested. The reverse is applicable to tests. If you get too psyched-up or tensed-up during your tests, you will not be able to recall your material because your test mood state will not match your studying mood. This is the reason why it is so important to calm down in a testing situation. The Relaxation screen of the Counseling Center Help Screen provides a relaxation technique.

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Increase Your Reading Effectiveness    

  The following are two effective methods for reading text material. Choose the one that is best for you.

SQ4R Method:

SURVEY: Briefly survey the chapter. Read the authors' headings. Your aim here is not to go into detail but to develop a general idea of the structure. This will prepare you for what you are going to read and grasp a general understanding of the chapter. Read any summary. This will remind you of what is important throughout the chapter. This step helps you to get acquainted with the chapter.
QUESTION: Think about the material as you are reading. Ask yourself questions about it. These questions will serve to keep you more involved with what you are reading. This will keep you focused on the more important material without becoming overwhelmed by details. Try formulating questions as if you were the professor making up the test. This accomplishes 2 tasks; one, it facilitates concentration and two, it helps you prepare for the test.
READ: Read carefully and try to answer questions you have asked yourself. Remember you read a text differently than you read a novel. A novel is read passively. Textbook reading requires more concentration and retention. Read actively with involvement. This increases your understanding of the material. If you become tired or distracted, stop reading. Remember, your job here is not to cover a number of pages, but to "dig in". During this step, avoid reading aloud to yourself. Instead, read silently as this is much faster.
WRITE: After you have answered a question, write the answer down. Sum up information in your own words. Restructure the information so that it makes the most sense to you.
RECITE: Recite to yourself what you have read. Recall main headings and ideas. Be sure to put ideas in your own words as this will improve your ability to retain the material. Answer questions aloud and listen to your responses to see if they are complete and correct. If they are not correct, re-read the material and answer the question again. This form of rehearsal increases the likelihood that you will retain the material.
REVIEW: Reviewing is the key to figuring out what you know and what you need to concentrate on. The best times to review are right after reading while the material is still fresh on your mind and again before the test. Try to summarize major points in the chapter. And answer questions you posed to yourself while reading.

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