One of the biggest differences students notice between high school and college courses is that in college no one tells you what to do and when to do it. You must set up your own study schedule and stick to it — at the same time when many new social opportunities and responsibilities have also been added to your life. If you invest some initial time analyzing your activities and setting up a study schedule, you can get your work done and have time for a social life too.
Analyze Your Time
- To change you must understand how you use your time.
- Decide how you want to use your time in the future.
- If study time were your job, would you get a raise or be fired?
Establish a Routine
- Treat study time as if it were your job.
- Choose a practical time when you're alert.
- Study in a quiet place free from other distractions.
- Make Your Goals Specific.
- Make your goals both challenging and realistic.
- Set a beginning date and a finish date for each of your goals.
Reward yourself with activites that will recharge you, rather than activities that just fill time. For example, you may get more energy and pleasure out of dancing, jogging, or reading a favorite novel than you would from watching television.
Keep Up with Each Day's Classes.
- Look over your lecture notes for what was stressed.
- Remember questions the instructor asked.
- Read the subheadings in the textbook and any discussion questions at the end of each chapter.
Organize Your Study Sessions
- Develop a time table.
- Do your most difficult and boring subjects first.
- Schedule tasks according to due dates.
- Prioritize your work.
- Visualize large projects as a series of small steps.
- Devise a schedule of ½-3 hours for each hour in class.
- Alternate activities; for example, reading-writing-reading-writing.
- Study for 50 minutes, then take a 10-minute break.
- Don't schedule more than three hours of study without taking a break.
- Schedule specific tasks.
- Use the last half hour for memorizing.
Studying for Exams
One week before the exam:
- Schedule a one-hour review for each chapter covered.
- Schedule a one-hour review for each one or two lectures.
- Add an additional hour for homework review.
- Study some every day.
- Save some "insurance time" for extra studying.
Studying on the Run:
- Write the main points of a lecture or chapter on a master summary sheet or notecards.
- Keep a master summary sheet or notecards handy so you can study in the car, on the bus, between classes, etc.
- Tape record main points and listen to them in the car, while you're jogging, etc.
- Don't spread yourself too thin.
- Have a good balance.
- Use your most alert time for studying and use down time for TV, laundry, visiting, etc.
Much of this material comes from Active Learning: A Study Skills Worktext by Rory Donnelly (1990).