Okay, when you hear “study skills,” you probably immediately want to take a nap, but, seriously, these things are important. Here’s a little secret: college isn’t really all about learning about certain subjects. It’s actually more about figuring out how to deal with information that you’re given. Sure, you’re building up a base of knowledge that you’ll eventually use in your job, but learning how to manage your time and the information you need to know effectively will prepare you for the workplace way more than acing all your tests will. Of course, having the right study skills won’t hurt your test scores, either. Here are the top five study skills that you should master this year.
1. Take notes. It’s a proven fact that when you process information through your fingers, you remember it better. Learn how to take good notes on your reading and on lectures, and you’ll actually end up needing to study less because more information will stick the first time around. Whether you prefer to take notes with a pencil and paper or your laptop doesn’t matter, just as long as you take detailed notes.
2. Ask the right questions. Learning a subject inside and out has a lot to do with the questions you ask. If you’re in a lecture and you don’t understand something, it’s important that you ask questions so that you can gain some clarity. At first, you might ask vague questions that don’t get you the answers you need right away, but with some practice, you’ll figure out how to ask questions that get straight to the point more often than not.
3. Study in groups. Okay, so not everyone likes to study in groups, but knowing how to work with a group can be really important for college and your future career. Find at least one class where a study group would be useful, and then take the initiative to form it. You can memorize things faster when someone’s quizzing you, and you can also learn a lot from other people, who probably understand things differently than you do during class.
4. Learn to practice. Whether you’re practicing problems before your math exam or practicing essays before a major philosophy test, practice definitely makes perfect. There needs to be a balance here, though. Don’t go overboard so that you get bogged down by too many practice questions. Teach yourself to recognize when you need more practice with a particular lesson and when you’ve got it down pat and will just need to skim a quick review before the next quiz or test.
5. Manage your time. Time management is probably the single most important study skill that you’ll need to get through college and, really, the rest of life in general. Whether you need to set a timer to help you focus on important tasks in half an hour chunks, create a detailed to-do list, or make some sort of daily flowchart, you need to figure out how you best manage your time. If you’re having trouble getting all your work done, talk to some professors or friends about how they manage to fit everything in. Everyone gets twenty-four hours a day, but some people use those hours a little better than others. Learn from those people!