Study Tips : How to Succeed in Your Classes

Everyone and I mean everyone can benefit from learning how to effectively study for their courses. It is a big part of what makes for a successful academic experience and its a crucial skill to learn early on. We don’t all learn the same way and that’s completely okay! While taking notes on lecture might be sufficient for your roommate- you might benefit from drawing out concepts. The point is it is crucial to find out, sooner rather than later, what works best for you. Also note that not all classes require you to study in the same way. While one class might be more challenging and require visuals, another class could be more easily understood by writing things out or making outlines.

1.Practice
For a lot of courses simply taking notes in class is not going to help the material stick. A lot of college courses will require you to apply concepts. For that, you’ll need to practice the concepts- ideally just after lectures that day. It will help you identify what topics you don’t understand or are having difficulty with.

2.Get to Know your Professor and Class (Go to Office Hours!)
That should really help to inform you in terms of what the material and exams will be on. If the professor is always referring back to a textbook or presentation than it’s pretty likely that the content of homework assignments and exams are going to based off of that. If you go to Office Hours and ask questions (after practicing of course!) then that will make you also look like you’ve put forth an effort to really understand the material and not just cram for exams. Professors are often very helpful in office hours in terms of talking through concepts that might be heavily tested. I recommend asking, “I’ve been looking and working on _____ and I had these questions _____. I was wondering if there is a part of the material that you think I should focus on more closely that students may have struggled with in the past.” This will make you look prepared and invested in your learning experience.

3.Look at the Syllabus
A lot of syllabi will cover the expectations for the course. It’s really important to know what kind of percentages you’ll need to aim for to get the grade you want to receive. It’s also important to find out if the class has historically been “curved.” This means that the boundaries to earn a certain grade might be lowered by 1-2%. Not every class is curved so make sure to know whether this is the case or not and to not just expect it. Also, a lot of professors will not “round up” meaning if you needed a 94 to earn an A and received a 93.5% or 93.2% many will not round that up to a 94 for an A. It never hurts to ask though just be aware that some professors are very strict about this rule and will often mention it in their syllabi.

4.Use Outside Resources to Supplement your Learning
If you do not understand the way something was taught in class then seek out other resources like YouTube and Khan Academy. Sometimes a concept can really “click” once you see it explained in a different way.

5.Do not Cram for Exams
While cramming may still work for some classes, it is a whole lot less stressful to be proactive about your learning experience. In the long run, organizing your time effectively will be helpful in the maintenance of your grades and time to work on other things as well. Studying in advance will help the exams be more familiar to you and easier to solve.

Bonus Tips:
*Preview the material BEFORE going to class. That way you aren’t learning it for the first time when the professor is talking through it.
*Use google calendar to block out portions of time for studying and other extracurriculars. This app is great for keeping me organized and on track. It also helps to boost productivity overall


Published by Magda Wojtara

Magda Wojtara is Junior at the LSA Honors College at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor on a pre-med track with a major in Neuroscience. In her free time, she write articles, volunteers at a chronic pain outpatient facility with UM Medicine, does research, competes in HOSA, and, of course, enjoys photography and singing. In her spare time she manages her own travel and lifestyle blog: @journeythedestiantion on instagram and journeythedestination.weebly.com

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