Effective study habits
We can help you if you find that you are not able to manage your studies satisfactorily. Perhaps you have fallen behind in your courses or you feel that there is not enough time in the day. Below you can find tips and information that can be useful for you in your studies and study technique.
How do I learn best?
What can I do to improve/succeed in my studies?
Planning and organizing my studies
Start studying and be an active reader!
Review and take study breaks
What do I do with my time?
What do I think about when I read the course literature?
How can I attain good test-taking habits?
How can I increase my level of concentration?
How do I motivate myself?
How do I learn best? Where do I feel is the best place to read, at my department or in the library? Try out different places and evaluate them. When do I feel is the best time for reading? Am I a night or day person? I should utilize my most energetic time of the day for studying.
All of us have different learning styles. Learning styles are about how each person concentrates on, processes and retains new and difficult material. Different factors can therefore play a role in when I study and learn new things. By becoming aware of which factors, I can also more easily affect and change my way of studying.
Tip: Take a learning style test that shows which sense(s) and channels of learning you use the most. Thereafter based on your learning style, gather tips and methods to become more effective in your studies so that you can more easily take in information that is presented in your program.
Try the VARK test and find out your learning style, which characteristics are strongest when it pertains to learning, and what things to consider. The VARK test’s homepage is the first link on the list of online resources when you click on the links in the right-hand column.
I am the most important resource for succeeding in my studies and there is a great deal I can do to plan and conduct my studies well. Study technique is about finding different methods that suit me. This can make my studies at the university both fun and more successful.
Before I start to study, I can prepare by planning each week. I can create a study schedule and make sure that I clearly understand what the goals of the course are. The course syllabus can provide me with an overview of the course, describe the contents of each unit, and explain the expected learning outcomes when the course is finished. This helps me to focus on what is most important and pick out what is most important in the course literature.
Do not postpone studying until the next day – everything can be gained by getting started with studying as soon as the term starts. Try to find the best place to study where there is a minimal amount of distractions. Taking notes while I am reading helps me to maintain my concentration. Remember to check that I am actually studying during the time I have set aside to study; the cell phone and Internet surfing often steal time away from studying!
Allow time for reviewing my lecture notes and material that I have read and worked with. By reviewing, I save time by keeping the information current in my memory and learn more easily – not just during the time up to the exam, but even after the course has finished. Short breaks that are a few minutes help me to stay focused during a longer study session.
Planning is the key to being effective in my studies. Planning is the most important preparation that provides me with a secure framework so that I may focus on what is important regarding contents, material, etc. By creating a time schedule for each week, I can receive a detailed picture of how I use my time.
Tip: Schedule 1 is helpful for planning. Each evening fill in the schedule for one week; what I did, not what I planned to do. Total the number of hours at the end of the week that I spent on sleep, meals, household chores, lectures, independent studying, training, hobbies and work (if applicable).
Is my life balanced? Fill in the self analysis questionnaire. Answer the questions in the document Self analysis – balance in your life. What does it look like? What works well, what does not work so well? Are there differences in how my life is now and how I would like it to be? Is there something I would like to change? Summarize my thoughts and decide how and when I do what.
Now create a new schedule. Print Schedule 2 or use my own calendar. Begin by writing down scheduled events related to my studies, such as, lectures, group work, tests, etc. Try to schedule the planning based on knowledge goals and not according to number of pages, for example, “today I am going to learn the 4P method”. Use my learning style as a springboard – what time during the day or evening is most suitable for studying? Do I have an easier time concentrating in the evening or do I learn better in the morning? Remember to make time for reviewing and breaks. Don’t forget to even plan for private events, such as, work hours, birthdays, family dinners, etc.
It is not simply about creating a schedule and then believing that everything will take care of itself. Rather, I must also follow it up so that I can see what I have accomplished and what I have not completed. If I have not succeeded in carrying out the plan, then I should analyze why. Perhaps my schedule was unrealistic. Evaluate each evening and make changes in the schedule so that I feel it is a useful aid for me.
Many fall into the trap of reading a certain number of pages of text per day instead of learning a certain amount of knowledge. Before reading a text, check notes, teacher instructions or level of the book in order to know what I can be expected to know after I have read the text. One option is to skim the text to see which parts are most interesting. After reading, go back and make sure that I have understood what I have read. Meet classmates and practice by explaining to each other what the text is about.
Before the test, review selectively and set aside time for those things that I do not know. Create a review schedule and summarize what I have reviewed and make a mind map. Find out what kind of test it is and what material will be covered. Be certain to look at old tests, complete the practice tasks/questions. Think positively! I can do it! Click on the link below to the University of Minnesota, Duluth to find out more about test taking strategies, before, during and after the test. Test Taking Strategies
When taking the test, start by reading through all of the questions and writing down keywords to each question and outlining the answers before answering the questions. Answer the easiest questions first. Reread the questions so that I have not misunderstood them and go back and check the questions again when I have answered them. It is important to look at the question’s verb. The verb states clearly what it is that I should do, for example, describe, explain and discuss mean completely different things. Only answer what is being asked. Check my answers – have I really written what I mean. Take this quiz from the University of Regina Counselling Services to see if you can match the verb with its correct definition. Link opens a Word document. Understanding the Question
Concentration is the ability to direct and steer attention, a mental process that can be affected. It is possible to create concentration. Choose a place to study with as few outside distractions as possible. I can clear my mind from cluttering thoughts by writing, talking to someone, or making lists to get these things out of the way. When I work with the most difficult tasks, use the time of day that I find I am the most alert. Begin with mental preparation, a warm-up exercise to get the brain ready for what I am going to do. Create boundaries for my study session so that it is easier to get started and stay focused. Take it one step at a time!
Find active study methods based on my learning style, for example, by taking notes, making questions, discussing with others, summarizing main ideas and testing myself. Take breaks to stretch and counteract tension in my body, try a relaxation exercise. Take a break to absorb the material and allow it to ‘sink in’. Take a break to eat so that both the body and the mind can gather more energy. Motivate myself. Practice a positive inner dialogue. “If I believe I can then I can do more than I believe”.
Motivation is the driving force in what I do. The more motivated I am, the more likely I will succeed. Motivation is connected to how meaningful I believe my studies are, how interested I am in the subject and what goals I have with my education. Motivation increases when I think about the goal of my studying, the course or the assignment I need to do. Place it in a larger context. How can I practically apply what I am studying to my future career plans? Be specific regarding which goals I have for my education, be certain to create mini goals and reward myself when I have achieved them. Stay focused on the here and now, not on yesterday or tomorrow. Try to do something rather than regret what I did not do. Think about what I have achieved and encourage myself. Be proud of what I do!