Study Advice

Here’s some study advice taken from this paper: Optimizing Learning in College: Tips From Cognitive Psychology

Space Out Your Learning

  • Study for a little bit every day, rather than cramming in one long session.
  • Start studying early, and touch on each topic during each study session.
  • Reading before class and reviewing lecture notes after class will help consolidate what was covered in class.

Learn More by Testing Yourself

  • Instead of writing a chapter summary as you read, write down what you remember after you read, recalling the details from memory. Then, check to see how well you did (the read-recite-review method).
  • Answer the “end-of-chapter” questions both before and after you read a chapter.
  • Use flash cards to learn key vocabulary. Retrieve the idea from memory (before looking at the answer) and use a larger (rather than a smaller) stack of cards. Put answers you missed back in the deck at an early place and the ones you got right at the end. Finally, aim to recall each item correctly multiple times before taking a card out of the deck.
  • Be skeptical about what you think you know—testing yourself can provide a better picture about which concepts you know well and which you might need to study further.

Get the Most Out Of Your Class Sessions

  • Attend every class session.
  • Stay focused during class by leaving your laptop at home; you’ll avoid distracting yourself and your classmates, and you may remember more by taking notes by hand.
  • Ask your lecturer for a copy of any PowerPoint slides before class (if possible), so that you can take notes directly on the slide handout.

Be an Active Reader

  • Instead of speeding through your reading, slow down and aim for understanding.
  • Ask yourself questions as you read, such as, “What did I learn on this page?” and “What on this page is new to me?”
  • Finally, write some of your own questions about tricky concepts: “What is an example of X in real life?” or “How is Theory X different from Theory Z?”

Other General Tips

  • Get organized early in the semester: Put major due dates and exams on your calendar, set reminders to get start studying early, and be sure to look at your calendar at least once a week so you can plan ahead.
  • Get some exercise. Going for a 50-min walk in nature can enhance your ability to focus on difficult tasks.
  • Sleep! Sleeping is critical for ensuring that memories are successfully stored in long-term memory.