"Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability
to make yourself do the thing you have to do when you have to do it, whether
you like it or not; it is the first lesson that ought to be learned; and
however early a person's training begins, it is probably the last lesson that
he or she learns thoroughly" (Thomas Huxley).
- Make sure you attend all of your classes. If you have to miss a
class for an emergency, notify the professor before class. Make sure you
check with your professor to see what you have missed (announcements,
assignments) and to get a copy of any handouts.
- Never miss classes on test/exam days (makeup exams are not guaranteed and
can be more difficult and there may be other consequences).
- Take responsibility for your work (both good and bad). Don't blame your
professor for your bad performance.
- Go to class well-rested and with a clear head. Avoid any drug or alcohol use!
- Doing well in class requires time and effort! Don't assume you can "slide
by" without doing much.
- Spaced practice is much more effective than massed practice (i.e.,
- Think of college as your job for the next four years.
- Make use of a "month-at-a-glance-calendar" for all your classes. Read the
syllabus for each class and record exam dates and due dates for assignments
ahead of time.
- Make a schedule for every day and stick to it.
- Don't fall behind in any classes because it will become more and more
difficult to catch up as the semester passes.
- Try to avoid activities that keep you from doing what you really should be
doing. For example, avoid watching TV or talking on the telephone before
studying for a test Do what you really need to do first then reward yourself
with more desired activities afterwards.
- Avoid procrastination!
- If you are having a problem in any of your classes, do something about it
as soon as you recognize that you might be having trouble instead of just
complaining or worrying.
- Make use of any support services that the college offers (e.g., study
groups, counseling services) that you may need.
- Make sure you know how to use the library effectively. If you have any
questions, ask the librarian.
- Leave enough time to get any "inter-library" loan materials that you may
- Make use of your faculty advisor. They are here to help you!
- Plan your semesters carefully. Don't take on more course work than you can
handle. If you play any sports, it is your responsibility to make sure
that the games/practices don't interfere with the classes you are taking.
- One of the biggest complaints of students is that they say they have too
much to do. Schedule your time carefully. Don't be afraid to say "NO" to
activities that you simply can't find time to do. Carefully consider whether
you can handle a part-time job or other time-consuming activities.
- Carefully manage or avoid these common "time grabbers":
sleeping too much; talking on the phone; watching TV; listening to music;
casual reading; card games; recreational computer use (e.g., Games, Internet).
This is not to say you shouldn't relax, but don't overdo it!
Recommendations For Learning Course Material Effectively
- Read each chapter two times. The first time before the class lecture, and
the second time afterwards.
- Make sure you read all handouts! The professor is giving you these
for a reason.
- Buy and use the student study guide if available. Many of the questions
reviewed in these guides may be similar to the actual class test
- Schedule two hours of study time for every hour you spend in class. This
may sound like a lot, but you will need at least this much time to study
- Make sure you carefully read and review the syllabus. Note when assignments
are due, when test dates have been scheduled and so on.
- Use the Premack Principle. Complete all of your studying BEFORE
going out, meeting with friends, talking on the phone, watching TV, etc. Reward
yourself by engaging in these or other special activities afterwards.
- If you get a good grade on your exam, reward yourself by doing something
- Learn from your mistakes. For example, if you did poorly on a test, try to
identify what you did wrong and take steps to correct for this. Don't be afraid
to talk to your professor about any questions you may have about the material
being covered or how to improve your performance.
- Practice positive self-statements. Tell yourself you can succeed.
- Maintain a schedule of doing schoolwork even when a specific assignment is
not due. That is, study nightly from 7-9 or 10 even when you have no
How To Listen More Effectively in Class
- Sit in the front row of the classroom.
- Don't sit next to your friends.
- Never carry on a conversation while the professor is lecturing.
- Try not to daydream. Check yourself frequently and get back on task.
- Set a goal to ask at least two reasonable questions in every class.
Of course, in order to do this, you will have to pay attention.
- Be prepared to answer all of the questions the professor asks in class,
even if you only do so in your mind.
How To Take Notes Effectively
- Listen to what the professor says before taking notes. Make sure it makes
sense in your mind, or else your notes won't make any sense either. Ask
questions when something is not clear.
- Use a loose leaf notebook so that you can replace or change the sequence of
your notes. Use a separate notebook for each class or at the very least,
separate each class with a divider.
- If it is permissible, tape-record each class, and review these after
- Ask the professor for examples. Make sure you write the examples in your
notes as well because you may not remember them later.
- Pay special attention to any material the professor writes on the board,
displays on an overhead, or specifically says is important. These include
examples of concepts, definitions, new terms and names of significant
individuals. When in doubt, ask the professor.
- After class, integrate your notes with the text. Usually your text covers
the material in more detail so it should become clearer to you.
- IF YOU DON'T WRITE IT, YOU PROBABLY WILL NOT REMEMBER IT! Too many notes
are better than too few.
How To Study More Effectively
- DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE NIGHT BEFORE THE EXAM TO READ THE MATERIAL OR STUDY
FOR THE TEST.
- Try to study at the same place every time. Don't leave any materials in
your study area that might be distracting (e.g., photos, magazines).
- NEVER STUDY WITH THE TELEVISION ON!!!!
- Pay close attention to the section headings and sub-headings in your book.
These will tell you the most important aspects of that section. Also take note
of any highlighted words, names or definitions and any figures or tables
presented in the text.
- Make sure you read the chapter outline or the review section which is
usually given at the end of the chapter. Note the important terms and names
which are also given at the end of the chapter. Don't ignore tables or boxes.
These often emphasize important information.
- Think about what you read. Does it makes sense? If not, you are not likely
to remember it. Review any sections that you still don't understand. Make use
of the study guide and don't be afraid to ask classmates or your professor for
- Make use of study groups before the test rather than studying alone. Make
sure you don't study in places with a lot of distractions. Leave plenty of time
- Make sure you know what general material (chapters, handouts) will be on
the test (sounds silly, but some students do not know).
- Make sure you know general concepts rather than simply memorizing a number
- Try to apply what you have learned. How does the information fit
- Try to anticipate all potential questions which might be on the exam and
PRACTICE answering those questions.
- Good study techniques always involves writing. Be willing to re-write your
notes in outline form and to originate information on a blank sheet of paper.
Many tests ask for recall of information as opposed to simple recognition.
How To Take Tests More Effectively
- Get a good night's sleep before the exam.
- Make sure you get to class on time.
- Make sure to bring a watch with you.
- Don't drink too much coffee or caffeine drinks before the test. They might
increase your anxiety.
- Read the test instructions very carefully before starting the test.
- Review the test before you start so you know how much time you can spend on
- Allocate adequate time for each section and stick to this. Don't spend too
much time on any one question. If you don't know the answer, skip it and return
to it later.
- If you have the time, review your answers before you hand in the test. make
certain your answer responds to the question. You may not receive credit for
correct information that is irrelevant.
- Don't leave any answers blank. If you have to, guess. It won't hurt you any
more than leaving a question blank.
- If a question is not clear, ask the professor for clarification. Even they
make mistakes at times!
- On multiple choice questions, make sure you choose the best answer.
Sometimes more than one answer is correct.
- Don't be afraid to change your answer if you think you made a mistake.
- For true/false questions, don't choose your answers based on chance. In
other words, sometimes all of the answers may be "true" or "false", or there
might be a long string of either one answer.
- Be very careful of questions that include the words "all", "always",
"never" or other absolutes. They tend to be "false".
- Check the other test questions carefully. Sometimes they give you hints or
answers to some questions.
- Make sure your answers are legible. You are responsible for communicating
your ideas. A professor cannot grade what they cannot read.
After The Test
If you didn't get the grade you would like, obviously something is wrong. In
other words, you need to change what you are doing. If you do not change, the
next grade is very likely to be the same (most students' grades are very
consistent across the semester because they don't change their habits).
Review your wrong answers after the test. These may show up again, or they
may be the basis for other material to be presented in class.
Don't be afraid to talk to your professor about how to improve your grades
or study habits.