You may have mastered the high school grind, but attending college is a whole new ball game. One-page reports turn into 30-page research papers; 20-student classes can turn into hundreds. Don’t go running back home quite yet -- you can do this. With a few new study tactics, you’ll feel more confident in your abilities and more likely to succeed during your college career.
Create a study area where you only study. The noise, visual environment and number of distractions should be minimal. If you don’t have space where you live, libraries work, too.
Try to stay calm and focused. This may fall into the category of “Easier said than done,” but according to Dartmouth College, people often forget information due to emotional issues, anxieties, distractions, intense concentration on something else or intellectual interference. If your neighbors are having a loud party or your dog just died, you may want to consider studying at a different time.
Don’t overlook the power of self-talk and visualization. Look in the mirror and tell yourself that you will ace that exam. Close your eyes and visualize yourself holding a paper with a “4.0” scribbled on the top. The more positive talk and imagery, the better you will feel.
Study during the day or in the early evening. Late-night study sessions are not optimal due to the fact that you may be tired or fatigued from a long day, lowering your concentration and retention ability.
Study in spurts. If you study uninterrupted for hours on end, you won’t be able to retain all of the information. New concepts and ideas need time to process and file away in your memory bank. Study for a half hour, run to the coffee shop for a caffeine boost or take a walk, and head back for more study time. That refresher may be just what you needed.
Take notes during class. You may think you’re going to remember small, yet valuable, pieces of information, but even the strongest brains can drop some information from time to time.
Make note cards. Don’t write excessively long phrases on the cards. Instead, write key words or phrases on them. You can write questions or foreign words on one side and the answer or translation on the opposite side. Since they are portable, you can even go for a walk, pull one out of your pocket and repeat the information as you get a bit of exercise. The extra oxygen to the brain doesn’t hurt either.
Join a study group. If you team up with other students from your class, all of you can work together. You can ask questions and be part of group discussions. Others may have ideas you haven’t considered.
Review your notes or note cards right before you take an exam. This will give you a quick refresher when you need it most. If you ride a bus to school, do a quick review on your way to class.
Reward yourself for your hard work. There is nothing wrong with the occasional treat after a midterm or completion of a large project. Don’t cave and reward yourself too much or too early; otherwise you lose the motivation factor. You need something that will keep you working toward your goal.
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