Study Strategies

Learning is hard work 

and to do it well you’ll have to make time for it in your schedule!   

The common recommendation for study is two hours outside of class for every hour in class.  Simply put, if you’re in class three hours each week, it’s advised that you spend another six hours outside of class learning the course material.  If you’re enrolled in 15 credit hours, you’ll need to plan at least 30 hours additional to learn the content introduced in class. This number may decrease for an introductory course for which you have prior knowledge and it will increase for upper-division courses or those in which your base knowledge may be lacking.   

To some students this seems like a very large amount of time to devote and they aren’t really sure what to do – once they’ve read the assigned pages and done the homework, they’re done, right? Wrong!  For most students, this is only the start of learning…most of us do not learn information with such little effort.

While the first step in studying is setting aside the right amount of time, it’s also important that you plan your study for the best time of day.  Research tells us that the best time to study is during the morning and afternoon.  Should you study in the evenings?  Of course, but you shouldn’t leave the bulk of your studying for the evening, or you’ll find that you have less focus and often run out of time to get everything you wanted to completed, resulting in your staying up well past your planned bedtime.  It is important that you devise a time management system that allows you to find time during the day to do your studying!  

The other important timing issue is making sure that you make time to study for each course within 24 hours of lesson.  This is an important aspect of creating that memory, of learning something new, to work with the new information soon after hearing it so it stays with you.  It is also vital that you internalize the lessons from one class before that class meets again and you have additional content to manage.  For suggestions on managing your time, click here.

Learning is an active process

and you must find a way to use the information in order to keep it!  

Many students listen carefully in class and take good notes, they read the text, watch the videos, and review their notes…but all of these are passive forms of taking in information.  Active learning requires that you interact with the new material, that you internalize it and “own” it.  Most of us understand that learning a sport or a musical instrument requires that, at some point, we stop watching and start participating in the activity; too few of us classify learning as an activity.  Really learning means not only taking in the information but being able to retrieve that information and use it to answer questions or solve problems.  When you study, be sure that you incorporate methods of recall so that you get practice finding and retrieving the information you’ve stored and make sure you find a way to interact with the learning so that it connects with the other pieces of information you’ve gathered, allowing you to develop a broader, deeper view of the material.

Successful students will: