Many college students find exams to be a stressful period at the middle and end of each semester. However, with the proper study methods, these periods need not be stressful or entirely difficult. Good study habits, like any habits, must be practiced. After a couple of weeks, students are likely to find that the study methods described below become second nature and improve not only test scores, but also paper grades, participation grades and overall conceptual understanding.
The most important tool in any student's repertoire is his or her college textbooks. There are a number of ways to procure a textbook, although textbook rental is becoming progressively popular for its convenience. Other important study tools include a calendar, note cards and pens.
Organization is the first step toward practicing good study habits. Students should record all assignments on a calendar as listed on the course syllabus provided by professors or teaching assistants. Neglected assignments, particularly in reading, have a way of piling up so that final exams can produce unhealthy levels of stress. Using a calendar will help students stay on task.
Successful students should read from their college textbooks each day. This not only helps one absorb the information presented, but cements good study habits into everyday life. Furthermore, students who may wish to ask professors for additional clarification can do so in a timely manner that will facilitate further learning.
While reading, students should use the note cards to record vocabulary terms, dates, important names and events, and causal relationships. When necessary, the student should highlight a textbook for key points. This will not be a problem when students plan to sell back a purchased textbook at the end of a term or are participating in a textbook rental program, future readers will likely appreciate textbooks that are pre-highlighted with information someone else thought was important.
Note cards prepared from each chapter or unit should be stored together. After completing each unit, a successful study method is to write an outline of the cards. Repetition is a recognized method of learning, and when one writes something out, particularly more than once, it aids in committing the recorded information to memory. The note cards can also be used as flash cards throughout the unit so that one can improve information recollection.
Overall, the main key to successful studying is to develop good habits early and practice them every day. With the proper tools and practices, students achieve a greater level of success, regardless of the course subject.