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Study Skills: A Quick Guide

An overview of some basic study skills and strategies to set you up for success in your courses!

Read and Retain Your Syllabus

In addition to acting as a kind of contract between the instructor and you, the syllabus is also often a valuable source of information for faculty contact information, textbook information, classroom behavior expectations, attendance policy and course objectives.

Some students make the mistake of stuffing the syllabus in their backpack when they receive it on the first day of class and never take a look at it again. Those who clearly read it, keep it for reference and review it frequently find themselves more prepared for class.

If there is something in the syllabus you don’t understand, ask your instructor about it before class, after class or during their office hours.

Be Prepared for Each Class

Look at your syllabus or class schedule ahead of time so that you’ll have familiarity with what the instructor is speaking about. Western courses, both in person and online, use a digital platform called Blackboard to share and organize information about your courses and assignments. It is important for students to check their e-mail regularly as well as look for Announcements, Assignments, or other resources posted by your instructors on Blackboard. Complete any assigned reading ahead of the deadline so you can be prepared for the material covered in class.

Sleep adequately the night before class and ensure you do not arrive to class on an empty stomach.

Bring your course syllabus, textbook and any handouts or other important information for each particular class, along with a way to take notes (a notebook and pen, tablet, or laptop are all good tools!). Do your best to bring a positive attitude and be eager to learnThat will go a long way to helping you hear and retain the course material. 

Take Notes When You Read

Most students find it helpful to take notes while you are reading to maximize memorization. Sometimes called Active Reading, the goal is to stay focused on the material and to be able to refer back to notes made while reading to improve retention and study efficiency.

Don’t make the mistake of expecting to remember everything you are reading. Taking notes when reading requires effort and energy. Be willing to do it and you’ll reap the benefits later.

Complete All Assigned Reading at The Time It Is Assigned

College courses have much more assigned reading than what most high school students are accustomed to, and it can take a while to become comfortable with the workload. Some students fall behind early in keeping up with the reading requirements and others fail to read it at all. You will be most prepared for your class and for learning if you complete the reading assigned before your class. Staying on top of your syllabus and class calendar will help you be aware of your reading assignment deadlines.

There is a difference in assigned reading between high school and college. In high school, if a teacher gave a handout to read in class, students would often read it during class to prepare to participate in a class discussion. In college, more reading is assigned with the expectation it will be done outside of the classroom. It is a big adjustment students need to make in order to be successful.

Review for Exams

Preparation for an exam should begin on the first day of class, not when the exam is announced nor the night before an exam. Review your notes frequently to keep material fresh in your head.


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