|It is possible for all students to develop the skills necessary to be successful in college. Those who are not successfull often do not lack the intellectual ability but lack well developed study skills. To help you develop and refine your study skills the following hints are presented. Remember, in college the final responsible for your success lies with you. The instructor will provide you with the necessary information but it is your job to learn and understand it.|
|STUDY SKILLS AND TEST TAKING STRATEGIES|
In the following paragraphs you will find many different ideas and strategies for developing effective study skills. There are potentially as many different strategies used by successful students to study effectively as there are successful students. Each student must find what strategies work best for them. The information contained here is not intended to be an all inclusive list of study strategies nor is it meant to serve as a recipe for the best way to study. Instead, use this page as a source of ideas for effective studying and try different techniques. Each person must find what combination works best for them. If you need further assistance there are resources that may be of help to you including your instructor, counselors, and various study skills books (several are referenced at the end of this page).
I. State of Mind - you have to make a concious effort to study effectively - it takes a lot of effort and motivation.
|STATE OF MIND|
|Remember that you are here because you want to learn, nobody is forcing you to go to college. Many students think of their classes as obstacles that they have to get past. Don't create barriers to learning by thinking of your class work as an obstacle. Make an effort to remind yourself that you want to understand the material being presented! It is all part of a process preparing you to be the professional that you want to be (otherwise why are you here). Even in required courses that do not seem to apply to your goals their is valuable information. Look for the positive - the more you learn the more you will understand the world around you and the more self reliant you will be.|
Effective studying takes time, lots of time. It is imperative that you manage your time effectively. Draw out your weekly schedule and plan your study time (schedule study periods just like a class). A rule of thumb is that you should plan to study for a minimum of 2-3 hours for every unit the class is worth each week (thus for a three unit class you should plan on spending 6 - 10 hours a week studying outside of class). Don't wait and try to pack in unreasonable numbers of study hours before a test, plan ahead. Study 50 minute hours with 10 minute breaks, and don't forget to schedule in time for yourself, to work out at the gym or spend time with family members. With efficient time management you can study effectively and have a life.
Manage your time and commit to a study schedule. Consideration of some of the following points will help you make a schedule that will work for you.
Once you have established a schedule to study you need to get the most out of that time. Several things will help increase your effectiveness. As already mentioned, maintaining a regular schedule is one. Another is creating a comfortable environment for studying that is free of distractions. Finally there is the What and How of studying.
A. What to Study:
Generally all the material that you should know for an exam is presented in lecture or in your lab work. Therefore you can use the lectures and labs as a guide to what is important and emphasize this material in your studying. To be most effective your lecture/lab notes must include all of the key points covered in lecture/lab. As an aid many instructors provide lecture outlines. These can be very helpful as a guide but should not replace good note taking.
DO NOT take this to imply that you do not need to read the text. Textbooks often may be thought of as a supplement to the lecture/lab that you can use to preview the material, to fill in gaps in your notes, to answer questions, and for review. They are, however, a critical component in your learning and should not be omitted. Use the text!!
Note: Different instructors utilize textbook information to different degrees. Some test only from lectures while others test heavily from the text (even if the text material has not been discussed). It is up to you to determine what your instructor expects of you. In either case it is rare for an instructor to discuss something that they do not think is important.
B. How to Study:
There is no single "best" way to study. Each individual must find the best method for them. This may even vary for a given individual depending on the subject matter. However, three components are common to all: (1) repetition, (2) effort, and (3) time. Repetition is a key component necessary to move information into memory. As an absolute minimum you should plan to review the material three times, in lecture, in reviewing the lecture, and in reading the text. This should be active review during which you organize your thoughts and test yourself. Actively studying requires effort, learning is hard work. It also takes time, there are no shortcuts.
The following is a compilation of many of the techniques used by successful students to study. The more of them that you can incorporate into your collection of skills the more likely you are to succeed.
1. Preview material to be presented prior to attending lecture or lab.
2. Take good lecture notes - good note taking is a valuable skill that is difficult to master.
3. Rewrite your lecture notes as soon as possible after the lecture (note: this should be an active process - do not simply re-copy your notes, think about what you are writing and write it in your own words).
4. Draw out flow diagrams of complex processes or relationships.
5. Draw simple anatomical pictures illustrating structures and relationships - these do not need to be artwork but should be clear to you.
6. Use additional resources when needed (i.e. texts) - frequently texts used in prerequisite classes can provide a clear overview of the general concepts helpful in keeping perspective (in advanced courses it is possible to lose sight of the big picture).
7. Test yourself - self study questions can often be found at the ends of chapters, in study guides, and in computer applications.
8. Review what you have studied with a study group - study groups should not replace individual study but are frequently the best way to review what you have learned.
9. Take advantage of instructor office hours to clear up any questions that you cannot answer on your own.
10. Review and analyze your mistakes on your tests - what are the correct answers, why did you miss the questions, how can you improve your studying and test performance?
|TEST TAKING TIPS|
When the time comes to take the test do not just jump in and race to finish. Take your time, relax, and do your best. Remember, it is only a test.
James, Elizabeth and Carol Barkin. How to be School Smart. Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books, New York. 1988.
Miller, Lyle. Some Hints on Planning a Better Study Schedule. University of Wyoming, 1962.
Pearce, Frank. Biology Study Skills. West Valley College, 1995.