Study Techniques and Habits

Ongoing Study Habits


  • Utilize your course outline: prepare yourself for the material to be covered in the next lecture
  • Read Text – Understand organization and highlight important concepts/definitions
  • Read previous notes (especially highlights)

During Lecture  

  • seating – front and in the middle – minimize distance to information source and potential distractions avoid distractions
  • do not:
    •  encourage conversations during lecture
    • work on other homework/crossword puzzles/doodle/daydream/pass notes
    • surf the net
    • eat/take excessive breaks

Take Notes

  • separate paper or in the margin of the note package
  • develop shorthand/abbreviations (ie: NB = important)
  • organize your notes – underline main concepts/numbers etc
  • highlight important elements when emphasized by instructor

Active Listening

  • comprehension
    • understanding material
      • Visualize topic/material
      • Ask questions – very very important – in your mind then out loud
      • Focus on speaker – eye contact
      • Advance the concept – relate lecture material to other knowledge and synthesize

After Lecture
  • Read over notes and highlight important material - cover material at least once
  • Note any concepts or details you do not understand and make a note to ask at the beginning of the next lecture
  • If not done before, read material in text that was covered to round out your understanding
Preparing for Exams:
·         Attend Course Reviews when offered – make detailed notes of topics covered
o    instructors basically tell you what will be on the exam during the review
o    if you don’t attend, you don’t know what you will have to know and what you won’t
·         Remove distractions from your study area
o    food, telephone, television, chores, radio, interesting posters, traffic in the window etc
o    get out of the house – library/PIMT til 9:00 weekdays
·         Make a Study Package: materials to memorize for the exam
o    TIP: don’t think “they won’t ask that” as it makes gaps in your knowledge
§  Read over major topics & highlighted portion of texts
o    note major topics and add to study package
§  Read over notes – twice – First: all notes, Second: highlights
o    note major topics and add to study package
·         Review notes from study session to insure all materials mentioned are in study package
·         Review,Organize and Memorize your Study package
o    memorizing tips  
o    review until memorized
§  flow charts
§  cue cards
§  summary tables
§  teach others
§  say it out loud – won’t freeze in OP’s > auditory
§  word association – acronyms
§  questions self (determine details in mind, answer out loud, compare to notes for answers, don’t stop til no mistakes)
·         Program your memory
o    memory is limited, like a sponge, it can only hold so much at a time
o    cramming not effective
o    start understanding and studying early so that information has time to sink in
o    read over material after each class
o    take notes and write down any questions that come up while re-reading so that you can clear it up before the new lecture

Writing Exams
·         Start with the easy stuff – your name and the date if requested – builds confidence
·         Survey the overall organization for number and nature of sections and how long each section is, establish a time budget for each section based on overall length of exam and time allotted (do not read the questions on the first pass)
·         Read the directions to understand the nature of the sections to budget time
·         Decide where you want to start – begin with your strong points  - do the easy stuff first to maximize score and minimize time spent thinking
·         Skip questions you do not know the answer to and mark for later to return after all the easy questions are answered
·         If deciding where to go after easy stuff – focus on sections that are worth the most marks
·         After all questions are answered, if you still have time – review every question and answer in case  you made an obvious error – sometimes you rush to answer questions that later in the exam, once you are “warmed up”, are recognized as incorrect – especially true of multiple choice with 2 close answers
·         Continue to review answers while time remains until you are absolutely, 100% certain you have answered all questions to the best of your ability.
  • Multiple Choice Questions
    • recognition testing – all you have to do is recognize the answer
    • generally have 2 obviously incorrect answers and 2 possible correct answers
    • process of elimination
    • Don’t commit if unsure > pencil then pen or record answers on scrap paper first until confident
  • Short/Long Answer Questions
    • if question is worth 10 points – likely 10 points that need to be made in the answer

Post Exam
·         Do something relaxing/reward yourself
·         Dwell on the positive
·         Review exam when returned
o    note mistakes and correct
§  they tell you what you don’t know and what you obviously still need to learn
o    talk to instructor and ask questions to clarify what you don’t understand
·         Note any gaps in your Study Notes and fill in based on exam
o    study notes for midterms make excellent study guides for finals
·         Find a tutor/study buddy
·         Give your study stategy a very honest review

Students and Study Techniques
Four Distinguishing Characteristics of a Successful Student:

1. The successful student has a clear educational goal
2. The successful student recognizes that education offers a unique opportunity for intellectual development, and they are willing to subordinate their other concerns to take advantage of that opportunity
3. The successful student has good study skills
4. The successful student has the will to succeed

Helpful Study Techniques
  • Preview material before it is taught; even if you just familiarize yourself with the day's material before class, you will be surprised how much more you understand
  • If you have a series of exams, study for them in reverse order; this way you give adequate time to each exam, not five days for the first, a day for the second, half a day for the third, etc.
  • guess at possible exam questions; sit down and write out answers
  • Form a study group to decide what upcoming exam questions might be; everyone takes a question and prepares an answer: you can then swap answers for studying
  • Do not get behind; if you relax and let things slide for a while, it is usually too late and too difficult to get back on top of things
  • Do an immediate review after class; write things down and make your own notes
DID YOU KNOW?? Two or three hours of efficient study in quiet surroundings does more than ten hours in noisy conditions

Stress and Studying - Some Helpful Hints
Exams are just over 2 weeks away and students are already starting to plan ahead.  Here are some hints to help while you are putting together your study material:
  1. Be Purposeful - work; intend to listen when you're learning
  2. Be Selective - figure out what you think is important
  3. Get it Right the First Time - if you're unsure, ask!
  4. Understand - if given info, put it into your words, develop your own short hand; try to explain it out lout, write it out, teach it
  5. Organize - make it easy to follow
  6. Recite - hearing it makes it easier to remember
  7. Small Practice Sessions - gives you a higher percentage of information recalled

  • When you plan, you reduce stress
  • Review right away
  • Know material that will be called
  • Study when you're most awake
  • Study the hardest material when you're most alert
  • Take breaks
  • Increased fitness=increased learning

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