Class is out, and the weekly lecture is over, but the work has just begun. Consider the following tips when it’s time to hit the books and study what’s in your lecture notes and textbooks.

Understand how you learn

Understanding and using your learning strengths and adjusting your study environment settings to suit you will make your study sessions more effective. For example, are you a morning or a night person? Figure out what time of day you study most effectively and schedule your studying time for those times of the day. Trying to study when you’re sleepy or distracted isn’t the best idea.

Be selective in your reading

If you’d like to be quicker in doing your reading, keep in mind that only some material is worth studying, and the rest is just worth skimming. Begin with an overview of the book by first reading:

This will give you a sense of the book's overall theme and the main point the author is making. Comprehension of where the author is going will help your speed of reading.

Ask questions continually

As you read, you should constantly be asking what’s important and what’s worth your attention. How does the chapter you're reading relate to the overall purpose of the book? Is it a side road or central to the plot/thesis?

Focus on and mark key points

As you read, focus on key points and passages and mark them for quick reference. Underlining slows you down, so make marks in the margins. Use asterisks or arrows to mark key points and numbers for repeated details that could indicate themes.

Learn how to take breaks

Instead of talking on the phone, watching TV, or surfing the internet as a procrastination tool, avoid the guilt! Plan activities you like as breaks and rewards. Set a goal of reading a certain amount of pages or completing a certain number of problems. When you’ve accomplished your goal, reward yourself by taking a break and doing something you enjoy. Doing this will help keep your mind fresh and energized.

Learn to like what you do

Remember why you’re doing it and why it’s important. Is it a required class for your degree? Remind yourself of the career you’ll have down the road with the help of that degree.

Study with a friend

Enlist a friend and study a dreaded subject together. If you’re not spending the time loving the subject, at least you’ll be spending the time with someone you like! Be accountable to that friend when you’re not studying with them. Tell them that if you call them up to chat, they should ask you if you’ve done your reading first before they chat with you.

Adapted from Steve Douglass’ "How to Get Better Grades and Have More Fun." Copyright. May not be used without permission.

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Photo Credit: Annie Spratt