How to Improve Your Study Skills in College

How to Improve Your Study Skills in College

Do you ever feel as though your study techniques are inadequate? Do you ever consider how you can improve your grades and test scores? Many students know their high school study techniques don’t work well in higher education. This makes sense given how different college is from high school. Classes are far more demanding, tests are worth more, reading is more challenging, and teachers are less directly involved. You don’t need to change anything about yourself; you only need to improve your study skills. Fortunately, numerous active, successful study skills have been proven successful in college courses.

This article provides some advice on how to improve your study skills. You will be able to effectively and efficiently understand the course material if you incorporate these suggestions into your regular study routine. Try them out and see which ones work best for you.

Studying Goes Beyond Reading 

Reading texts or notes repeatedly is not considered actively participating in the subject. It’s just rereading your notes. Studying does not just involve “doing” the assigned readings. It’s just reading for class, that’s all.

Consider reading as a crucial component of pre-studying, but remember you must actively acquire that knowledge. Making connections to lectures, creating examples, and controlling your own learning are all parts of the process of actively engaging with a text and developing meaning from it. Active learning does not entail rote memorization, highlighting or underlining text, or repeated reading. Although they could keep you focused on the work at hand, these activities are not regarded as active study methods and have only a tenuous connection to better learning.

5 Steps to Improve Your Study Skills

Developing your study abilities can help you succeed in school. Effective studying is one factor that will ensure you get good results in school. Here are five actions you may take to improve your study skills.

#1 – Do not Study More Than an Hour at a Time Without Taking a Break 

Don’t spend more than 20 to 30 minutes at a time memorizing something. The justification for taking such few breaks from studying is as follows.

First, you use time more effectively when constrained by time. You may not be aware of it, but you manage to cram a lot of studying the day before significant tests. Because of this, it is known as “cramming.”

Second, quick bursts of learning are preferred by psychologists. Studies have shown that four one-hour sessions spread out over four days can teach students just as much as a single marathon six-hour session. This is because your mind continues to work on retaining what you have learned while you are not actively studying, such as when you are sleeping, eating, or reading a book. Thus, it also counts as study time.

How to Improve Your Study Skills in College

Remember that memorizing involves significantly more real learning than reading a historical studies work or an English essay. This is true whether you memorize arithmetic formulas, a foreign language, or names and dates.

The experts claim that taking a 10-minute break every hour can help you study more effectively. Some top students study for 45 to an hour before taking a five to ten-minute break. The break is your reward and enables you to study more throughout the following hour.

Another way to prevent daydreaming when studying is to start with your most challenging or least favorite subject and work your way up to the easiest or subject you enjoy the most. So studying the subject you enjoy the most is your reward for studying the hardest or least favorite subject. Test it out; it works.

#2 – Use a Note-taking Method that Works Best For You 

Numerous studies have been conducted on note-taking, and one method has come out on top.

Use the 2-3-3-2 method if the lecture and text are closely related in the course: Create columns of three inches in the middle for lecture notes, three inches on the right side for text notes, and two inches down the left side for recall hints. The bottom of the page should have a two-inch space for your personal findings and conclusions.

Use separate papers for class notes and reading notes, using the 2-5-1 technique: two inches at the left for recall cues, five in the middle for lecture notes, and an inch at the right for observations and conclusions, if the lectures and the reading are not closely related.

Most likely, you have written down your lectures in the format that has developed throughout your academic career. You’ve probably also set your shorthand system, including symbols like “g” for all “-ing” endings, “&” for “and,” and various word abbreviations.

You can attain higher marks by using the recall clue column. After you have written your notes, read them over as soon as possible. Don’t analyze them; just read them. As quickly as possible, while everything is still fresh, check to see if you missed anything crucial or typed something erroneously, then make the necessary corrections.

After reading over your writing, write down words that will help you remember the subjects of your notes. Instead of repeating information, these clue words should identify or categorize the type of material that is in your notes. They are the sort of hints written on “crib papers.”

#3 – Memorize Actively , not Passively 

Researchers have discovered that reading something repeatedly is the worst method for memorization because it takes the longest and produces the least recall. Forget it if that is how you memorize things. Instead, make use of all of your senses.

To get a mental picture, try to visualize it in specific terms. Use sound in addition to sight: Listen to yourself saying the words as you speak them out loud.

Utilize association by connecting the new information to a personal experience or a logical connection.

#4 – Studying While Reading

In the long term, study takes less time! Read with intention. You will finish the assignment much more quickly and retain the information much better if you first take the time to adhere to the OK4R approach rather than simply starting at the beginning and reading through to the end:

O – Overview – Go through the title, the opening and concluding paragraphs, and all of the reading material’s headings. After that, you’ll have a broad sense of the subjects covered.

K – Key Concepts Search the text again for the main points (usually found in the first sentence of each paragraph). Read the bold and italicized text, bulleted lists, itemizations, graphics, and tables.

R1: Read carefully through your entire assignment. You can do it quickly since you already understand the author’s point of view and what they are trying to establish.

R2 – Recall – Set the text aside and summarize what you have read in a few sentences or keywords. It has been established that most forgetting occurs right away after first learning. According to Dr. Pauk, “instant recollection for one minute nearly doubles retention of that piece of data!”

R3 – Reflect – The preceding stage aids in solidifying the information in your head. Find connections and meanings for the information you read to help it stay in your mind forever.

R4 – Review – This action is deferred till later. The following quick quiz and subsequent term tests should both be used. Many reviews will permanently imprint that knowledge in your mind.

#5 – Create a Note-taking System.

You can use colors to make note-taking easier. Red indicates main ideas, blue for dates and numbers, and yellow for evidence-based claims. 

Additionally, use margin symbols like circles, boxes, stars, and checks to make reviewing simpler.

Create your own glossary of the terms and ideas you are unfamiliar with.

Underline, star, or otherwise mark in your notebook the concepts that your teacher says are significant, ideas that you should revisit later, and concepts that you have been advised are common mistakes. Look for the words that indicate what is being summarized, such as in essence. Keep track of all examples. It would be best if you primarily use your teacher’s examples when taking notes on topics like arithmetic.

Take thorough notes up until the very end of the class period. An instructor frequently veers off course and runs out of time. The final five or ten minutes of a lecture could contain material that would typically take a whole half-hour. Put that crammed-in few minutes’ worth down. Stay on after class if necessary to write everything down.


There are a variety of study methods and abilities you can use. Choose a handful that you believe will work best for you to start. Give them a month to see if they are effective for you. You can always try something else later if you don’t sense a change. Try different things until you discover the best way to improve your study skills.

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