How to Study Effectively and Achieve Academic Success in College?

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If you’re a prospective or new college student wondering how to start on a good note and start picking up good grades from your first semester, then the answer is effective study. Unfortunately, not everybody knows how to study effectively in college and that’s why we’ve written this article to help. College life is significantly different from high school and that’s why students often get drowned in college activities that they fail to give enough time to studying effectively. To help, this article will also highlight some study habits you should know if you want to optimize the limited time you will allocate to studying in college.

How to Study Effectively: 13 Tips to Achieve Academic Success How to Study Effectively: 13 Tips to Achieve Academic Success 

Here, we’ll group our academic success tips into different categories to help you find what suits you in different situations. Let’s go!

General Study Tips for College Students 

This first category reviews important tips that any college student can adopt for their studies. You can continually experiment with these tips until you find what works for you. The best study habits for college are the ones that help motivate you to study without losing concentration at any point.

1. Set Realistic Goals and Break Them Down Into Small, Manageable Chunks

When it comes to planning, the one sure way to ensure you’re on track is by having a broad goal you’re focused on. Whether it’s graduating with a certain GPA or getting an A in a course, you want to ensure you’re clear about these goals from the start of your college life. Next, break the goal into smaller tasks. This way, it’ll become easier to achieve the tasks while looking forward to the next. While goal setting is an excellent way to go, avoid being too rigid with your plans. A little flexibility here and there won’t hurt you. Instead, it helps you keep track of your goals and to adjust where needed. Beyond serving as the right motivation to study better, goals will help you become a better person while readying for the professional world.

2. Create a Detailed Study Schedule 

The number of activities you’ll meet in college makes scheduling one of the most important study tips for college students. But it’s not just enough to create a study schedule. You must also learn to stick by it. Schedules can help you identify and prioritize more important tasks. In this case, you can even break down available topics to:

  • Most important
  • More important
  • Less important

The goal of this habit is to help you plan your tasks so that each one gets an adequate amount of time.

3. Put Away Every Distraction

While it’s good to create time for fun activities, you must learn to draw the line where it becomes a distraction. When it comes to prioritizing adequate studies, it’s hard to maintain focus when there are so many distractions around us. Therefore, one effective way to maximize productivity and not veer off course is to eliminate potential obstacles from your way. Small decisions like closing your door, turning your phone off, and silencing unimportant notifications can go a long way.

4. Create Time for Breaks

While we’re against unnecessary procrastination, we can’t deny the importance of breaks. Studying for long hours can cause burnout and temporary loss of memory. One of the effective ways to avoid burnouts is to create time for break. While planning your schedule, include time for breaks when you can refresh your mind and get ready for the next task. Breaks can last between 20-30 minutes.

Test Preparation Strategies for College Students

As a college student, you’ll face more tests and exams than you’ve ever faced in your life. While facing these test, you have to realize that studying for a test requires a slightly different approach from general studies. For instance, beyond learning how to schedule your study time in college, you must also know which part of your college materials to prioritize at different times. That said, here are test preparation tips every student should know.

1. Avoid “Cramming” 

Often, it seems like it’s a good idea to stay up all night memorizing your material just before the exam, but it’s not. In fact, cramming can become counterproductive because it often takes away your retention ability. This report by UCLA details a research that shows that cramming and pulling all-nighters just before an exam can make students forget more information than they can remember. Besides, it also causes stress, which is the last thing you’d want before or during an exam.

Therefore, we typically advise students to resist the urge to postpone their preparations until the last minute when they’ll start trying to memorize bulk information.

2. Gather All Necessary Materials the Day Before Your Exams 

Your exam day is a big day for you, and it comes with significant pressure. The last thing you want is to realize you forgot vital material after you’ve reached the exam hall. That’s why you should write a list of all the things you need and ensure you gather and have them ready to go the day before.

In addition to going to the exam hall without forgetting anything, this tip also helps to minimize the stress you’ll face in the morning and helps you feel more confident. We all appreciate the extra minutes it gives us to sleep and eat a healthy breakfast before going out.

3. Focus Your Studies on Exam Materials

It’s good to study a wide range of topics and gain knowledge on various topics. However, prioritizing reading wide when preparing for an exam is a recipe for confusion and failure. In the days leading to your exams, it’s important to shut out every kind of distraction and focus on the right materials. Some teachers go as far as giving “areas of concentration” for their exams. Read everything in their notes and materials, but focus more on the areas and ensure you capture everything you should.

Some tips that can help you focus more include:

  • Limit distractions like televisions and phones while studying
  • Use colors and designs to make vibrant notes that’ll help your memory
  • Study in a quiet environment
  • Pay adequate attention to the teacher and note key points when they’re teaching

4. Attend Preparatory Classes

Some colleges make arrangements for preparatory classes for specific tests and exams. Always inquire whether there are such preparatory classes before your exams. If you find that there is, consider attending them. Such classes allow you to learn more about the course and get vital materials. They’re also an excellent avenue to take practice exams and note where you may need adjustments. If there’s no arrangement for such classes in your college, you and a few other students can form one and get a higher-level student to help you.

5. Take Practice Tests

Here’s one tip you’d expect in every study tips for university students. Practice tests are important because of their role in helping you identify topics you’re lagging in. Some textbooks have practice test sections. You can also find practice tests online or simply look for past questions in your school library.

Best Study Habits for College Students

Studying can be hard. As you advance in college, it’ll become even harder. You’ll also need to divide your limited time into several activities. Here’s were developing the right study habits comes into play.

However, these study habits don’t just come. It takes consistency to build them. Often, you’ll need to start with basic habits like learning to read more frequently before advancing to harder habits. As you continue these habits, you’ll recognise consistent changes in your performance during tests and exams.

1. Set Study Goals and Reward Yourself for Smashing Them

During your first few weeks in college, you’ll generally realize several changes from what you’re used to in high school. But one of the things that won’t change is how sessions are divided into semesters. This setting allows you to divide your study goals into sessions and semesters. We’ve talked about goals before, but there’s a need to talk about it as a college study habit. Your study goals can be content-based or time-based. For example, you can choose to cover one or two chapters weekly. You can also choose to study for 12 hours per week. The aim is to be able to break these goals into chunks you can achieve daily. At the end of the week, you can look back at how well you did, and reward yourself with small treats if you successfully smashed your goals.

2. Find a Good Study Environment

Finding the right study environment is an important but often underrated element of effective study. Your study environment can make or break your study routine. It can also influence how well you understand your books. So we recommend finding a quiet place with little or no distractions. If you’ve not found the right study environment, here are some suggestions that can help:

  • Library
  • Coffee shops
  • Your room
  • An empty class

Ensure that your chosen location is quiet, comfortable, and conducive to learning.

3. Ask for Help

As you start college, you’ll realize a lot of differences from what you’re used to in high school. One of such differences is  class schedule. You’ll need to start learning how to study for multiple classes in college. You’ll also encounter advanced explanations to concepts and unless you’re a genius, you won’t understand all of these concepts. The perfect solution to this is to look for someone that understands the concept better. The personalized explanation they’ll typically offer can be what unlocks how you handle bigger problems.

Don’t forget the many online tools available at your disposal. You can check our website for such online tools that you can always turn to for better explanations of topics you’re not familiar with. YouTube is also an excellent place to check.

4. Take Care of Yourself

Finally, it’s important to remember to take care of yourself. Habits like regular exercise, good sleep, adequate diet, and proper hydration may seem ordinary, but they go a long way to improve your brain health. The brain is a vital organ that must function optimally for you to understand and remember information correctly. So taking care of it and other systems in your body will help you both in your test and in the long run.

Wrapping Things Up: How to Study Effectively in College?

Whether you’re starting in college or have been a student for a few semesters, you can always work on improving your grade. As this article points out, it just takes a few change of habits, determination and readiness to work. In the end, you’d have to pick your priorities from the start of college. If your priority is to earn good grades, you must start working for it early. The tips in this article will help you study effectively in college. So whether you’re learning how to study like a Harvard student or simply looking for practical habits that can help you become a better student, these study tips can be the game changer for you at any time.

Picture of Professor Conquer
Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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