Studying in College

Studying is very important if you are going to learn.  Studying in college is quite different than studying in high school.  There is a lot more work to do.  You have a ton of reading, papers to write and tests to take.  Deadlines come fast, so it’s important that you learn techniques to read fast, gleam the information you are supposed to learn and be able to write papers and pass tests.  So, there are a few steps to learn so you can study effectively.

The first and most important step is to get organized.  You have to be organized so you can get everything done. paper-3327341_1920

  1.  Go over the syllabus for each and every class.  Find out when test are scheduled and when papers are due.   It will be helpful if you use some sort of a calendar either on paper or on your computer to record this information.  That way you are not surprised when you show up for class on the day they are due.
  2. Next figure out which chapters you have to read.  You need to allow 2 to 3 hours of study time per hour of class you attend.  Sometimes it may take more on more difficult classes.
  3. Put everything in your schedule.  Include job hours (if you are working while going to school), extra-curricular activities and test and paper due dates.  You might also want to include exercise.  It is good to strengthen your body as well as your mind. Then you can figure in your study hours.
  4. You will find in college, every minute is precious.  You want to be sure you have something with you at all times that will help you learn.  Flash cards, professor notes or notes from your reading.

Second you will want to learn how to take notes in lectures.  It is important to get the high points of the lecture.


  1. Don’t take notes on your laptop.  Research shows that you may take notes faster, but the retention of the notes is much less.  You will retain more information from the lecture if you take notes with a pen and paper.
  2.  Make sure to leave space to add information in later.  Writing on every other line of the page helps you to be able to fill in missed information.
  3. Use your own symbols to take down information without having to write down the whole word.  Abbreviate words, use arrows to connect concepts.  Make lists writing only the important words and leaving out small words like, and or the.  Use stars or asterisks to point out important information or things you want to research later.
  4. Don’t write on the back of the page.  It is easier to read if you only use one side of the page.  You can also add notes later on the back if necessary.
  5. Right after the lecture read over your notes to make sure they make sense.  This is also a good time to fill in missing pieces.  If there is something you don’t understand make note so you can speak to professor about it either during office hours or during the next class.
  6. Make sure to include examples, things written on the board or in overhead.  These will be important that is why instructor took the time to write it down.

Third you want to learn reading techniques so that you can read through information quickly and still get the information from it.  It really helps to highlight the important parts.  A lot of times the first sentence gives you the information then the paragraph explains what the first sentence means.  Righting the most important things in the margin.  It helps when you are reviewing to have the stuff in the margin.

A.  Skimming

With this technique, you just skim over the material to get an idea of what is in the paragraph. Parts to look for:

  1. Introduction- The first sentence or paragraph will show you they main reason for books-1149959_1920the article or chapter.
  2. Body- Goes into more detail about the information.
  3. Conclusion- Tells you what the information means.

B.    Scanning  Used for finding information in books quickly.

Step 1: Review- look at table of contents for the following parts of the book. This should include:


Diagrams or tables or illustrations


Chapters in sequence




Step 2: Headings- Read the chapter headings to see if they contain information you are looking for.

Step 3: Search the index- Check the index for relevant topics or key words

Step 4: Assess content – Go to the page in the book and read the first 2 paragraphs and              the last 2 paragraphs to see if they are what you are looking for. Can also read                     paragraphs before and after to see if they specify the information you are looking              for.

C.  Keywords Spotting

Look for key words that help you understand the topic. These are found in the opening paragraph of the chapter.  Look for any hints given by the author. These might include:


bold type



section breaks

This will help you understand the material and give you a chance to look up difficult  terms for comprehension.

D.  Analytical Reading

With analytical reading you want to gain understanding through active reading.  You want to try an interpret what the writer is trying to say, look for connections between literal and interpretive meanings.  This helps with retention of material.

There is a technique to help with analytical reading.  The SQ3R technique which offers an active approach to understanding. SQ3R stands for:  Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review.


Take 3-5 minutes to go through chapter.  Look headings, subheadings, figures, tables and sq3rsummaries.


This step is for figuring out questions about the content of the chapter.  What is it about? Figure out the main point, the examples, how does it support the point?


This step is where you read for the answers to your questions.  This constitutes active reading which will help you remember the information.  Here it will help to take notes about what you are reading.


Using your own words, recite what you have read.  List the important points, write them in the margins of the text using short phrases or key words. You can also highlight important sentences. Speak out loud like you are telling someone else about the material.


In this step you want to summarize the main ideas and review your notes.

E.  Critical Reading

Critical reading is about evaluating what you are reading.  What the strengths and weaknesses are.  What the information implies.  How does it fit into the academic context of the chapter.

F.  Difficult Texts

Sometimes you will run into reading that is complicated and hard to understand.  There are ways to get through difficult texts and actually learn the material.

  1. Look at the text, how it is organized, review the headings and subheadings.
  2. Read the first and last paragraph to get an idea of what it is about.
  3. Go through the chapter, looking up the words that you don’t understand.
  4. Review what you have read in your mind and try to restate what you have read.
  5. Take notes
  6. Keep reading since some future parts may make more sense.
  7. Reread what you don’t understand
  8. Put it away for a while and look at it again later.

You will find that putting it out of your mind and working on something else, or exercising, your mind will keep working and you may understand it better when you go back to it.

Fourth Learn to take breaks, get exercise and have some fun.  Even though it is kickboxing-course-1178261_1920important to be prepared.  Your brain needs some time to rest, relax and process what you have learned.  It also is important to have a balanced life.  Having fun and getting exercise will help you be a more rounded student.


Here are some links that have worksheets and more information on studying.






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