Study Tips to Start Your Spring Semester | Student Affairs Division

At the start of the semester, it’s only a matter of time before your schedule starts to fill up with activity. So you can use this time to make a schedule, prepare for class, and find what works for you. Here are some study tips to help you get your semester off to a good start.

Get organized

Get a head start by adopting healthy habits to help you succeed and be prepared when the semester gets busier. Here are some things to try:

  • Use a calendar or planner to add important dates to your schedules. This includes review dates, project or article deadlines, presentations, etc. Regularly review your next few weeks to see what’s coming up and what things should be prioritized.
  • Take note of upcoming big articles, projects, or tests. Then break them down into smaller tasks to work on throughout the semester. This will help you make progress on assignments that haven’t been due for a while and avoid last-minute stress.
  • Turn your lecture notes into a plan, table or diagram. Not only does this help you get organized, but it also helps you clarify what you know and what you may need to review for exams later in the semester.

Avoid procrastination

Being distracted happens to the best of us, but learning to manage your time can make the difference in your academic success. Schedule consistent blocks of time each day to study or review class material. It may feel like there’s a lot of time left before your first exam, but studying regularly can help you become familiar with the material you’re learning. A rule of thumb is to try to study two to three hours for every hour spent in class (so for a conference that meets three hours a week, plan to study six to nine hours a week for that class). You can also try 5 other ways to prepare for exams.

Also consider ways to reduce distractions during your study sessions. Even if you want to reply to that text message or give the cute puppy picture a heart on Instagram, wait until you pause. Distractions can make it difficult to concentrate on the task at hand. Turn off notifications when you’re in class or studying, put your phone on airplane mode, and block websites that aren’t useful so you can concentrate.

Find what works for you

When it comes to study environments, try out a few things to see what works best for you. Do you prefer to study alone or with friends? Do you need complete silence or background noise to help you focus? Here are some other study techniques to try.

  • Color code your notes. It may sound silly, but the power of a red pen and highlighter can go a long way. Go through your notes after class and highlight any important themes or topics that your teacher thought were important. Use different colored pens for definitions, vocabulary, and other important topics.
  • Try flashcards for memorization. This can be especially useful if you’re taking a language course or need to memorize dates. Write down key words, themes, and topic definitions that you need to remember. For vocabulary, write the word on one side of the flashcard and its definition or translation on the other, and the same for dates. You can use these flashcards later to study for exams.
  • Try the Pomodoro technique. Set a timer for 25 minutes. During those 25 minutes, focus on one task. When the timer is over, set a five-minute timer for a short break. You can take a walk, have a snack or stretch. After your break, repeat. Choose any combination of focus time and pause time that works for you.

Ask for help

One of the best ways to ensure that you do well in your courses is to use the resources and support available to you. You don’t have to wait until your first exam or project date to ask for help.

If you feel stuck on a problem or concept discussed in class, visit your professor’s office hours or a help lab for clarification. The sooner you ask for help, the less likely you are to fall behind. You can also consider joining or starting a study group with your classmates.

Make an appointment with tutoring services, use academic resources, or connect with the Writing Center to get feedback on your writing. You can use Turnitin via Canvas to check articles for plagiarism and proper SEO.


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