College requires you to spend many hours studying… more hours than you probably ever studied in high school! There is a lot of information to take in at once, and some professors may move at a rapid pace from topic to topic. You will need to retain information as best as you can. Not just to pass tests, but to build your knowledge base for the field you are making a career in. There are many study tips to help guide your study more productively.
So how do you get your brain to save all that information for later? The key is in how you study. Studying is more than reading and re-reading text or rote memorization. Studying effectively gives you the “whys” and “hows” of the information you’re taking in. It requires skills that may or may not come naturally to you but can be sharpened. To get the most out of your study sessions, you need to manage your time well and be able to organize information.
Let’s go over some study guide examples to prepare you for your college career.
1. Get Enough Sleep.
Remember when we said your brain retains information? In order for it to do that, you need to take care of it by getting proper sleep! Proper sleep means getting your ideal sleeping environment in place, giving yourself time to wind down before bed (preferably without screens!), and getting at least 6-8 hours of sleep per night. Your brain will not absorb information effectively when it’s foggy and sleep-deprived. Sleep is essential to learning and academic success!
2. Practice Pomodoro.
The Pomodoro Method is a time-management technique that allots 25 minutes of task work, followed by a 5-minute break, then 25 more minutes of task work. These allotted time frames motivate you to get as much as possible done within each 25-minute section while giving you a break to look forward to. This method promotes focus. Try it out—you’ll be surprised how much you can get done in 25 minutes!
3. Use Flashcards.
Flashcards are a great technique that helps you ingest small bits of information at a time. Flashcards are made for more than just rote memorization—you can use them to write bullet points of key information, draw diagrams, or categorize concepts. They are great for quickly reviewing information before an exam or to get a quick study session in throughout the day. You can create digital flashcards through many free online platforms (shoutout Quizlet!), or you can do it the good ol’ fashioned way with pen and paper cards.
4. Break Down Information.
Chunking large pieces of information into smaller ones helps you categorize and prioritize what to study and where to locate the information. This allows your brain to focus on one area at a time and not get information overload. There are many ways to break down information, so do it in a way that is easiest for you to remember and study.
5. Get a Study Buddy.
Who said you have to study alone?! Find a roommate or someone in your class who is willing to study with you. You both can quiz each other and read together. When you get stuck or confused, having someone else to bounce ideas off of can help you understand the information better. The other person may have a better way of explaining or remembering the concept that makes sense to you, therefore helping you retain information more effectively.
6. Take Notes.
This may sound like a no-brainer (see what we did there?), but you need to take notes during lectures. It is highly unlikely that you will be able to recollect all the information and discussion from the lecture without notes! You can take notes on your laptop, or write them by hand. If you want to get creative, you can create or print out a graphic organizer that helps you prioritize and organize information.
Taking notes will help you absorb information while re-reading the chapters. Notes give you something else to review while preparing for exams. And yes… we recommend that you look over notes several times a week, if not daily, instead of the night before the exam!
7. Create Study Habits.
Setting the scene will motivate you to study and keep the habit going. Pick a study spot and turn on your preferred music or turn off all sounds, whichever you prefer. Grab a glass of water in addition to your preferred study beverage, get cozy, and study away!
You can set aside a large chunk of time for studying, or fit it into pockets of your day. It may also be beneficial to fit it into your normal routines, such as in the morning or at bedtime.
8. Move Your Body.
Your body and brain need movement just as much as they need proper sleep! Exercise can help you concentrate better, reduce stress, sleep better, and boost your mood. Getting exercise improves your overall health, which directly impacts your academic performance. If it keeps you motivated, you can even incorporate your exercise routine into your study routine.
Neurodivergent and neurotypical learners alike can benefit from all of the above study guide examples, though you may have to rework them to fit the way you specifically retain and communicate information. These study guide tips are flexible, so try them out and see which ones help you be the most successful!
If you find these study guide tips helpful, see if we have any other tips for your looming college questions!