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5 Effective Study Skills All College Students Must Learn!

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It’s true- everyone has their personal learning style and learning preferences. But, when it comes to studying for your next big test, honing a certain set of study skills is crucial to doing well. 

While there are many different types of study skills, we’re going to focus on the 5 most effective study skills to possess. This way, you can practice them and see how they pay off when you get your results back in! 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is aaron-burden-QJDzYT_K8Xg-unsplash-1024x769.jpg Source: Unsplash 

What are Study Skills?

Before we get into the college study skills you need, let’s define what study skills are. 

A study skill is a technique you can use to absorb and understand information. Study skills are transferable across subject matter, which is good news. Once you have strong study skills, you will be able to apply them to whatever topic you are learning to reap the benefits. 

Study strategies get better with practice and by taking your own personal approach. 

College Study Skills

While there are countless study skills to use, we are going to pay special attention to the following five. The reason we chose these study skills is that they are proven to be effective and can make a big difference in how you perform. 

Plus, these study skills are broad enough to use in real life, too. Even once you graduate from college, you can apply these skills to your work life to help achieve a work-life balance. 

1. Ask Why 

Asking why is a study skill that is more formally known as elaborative interrogation. Intuitively, we start asking why continuously as a toddler. We are naturally curious beings. The reason for asking why as a student during your study sessions is to get to the root of something. It also helps you to connect ideas and facts that you already know to answer the question of why something is the way it is. In turn, you have these connections that you already know, which strengthens your memory of the new fact that you are trying to absorb. It may seem like a silly exercise, but once you try it, you will start to see how well it can work! 

2. Optimize Note-Taking

Did you ever think about when studying actually begins? It starts with your note-taking during class! Whether you are online learning and taking notes or in a classroom setting, the art of taking notes can make a major difference in how you learn. To take solid notes during a lecture, listen actively. Keep your notes organized and even apply your own format. For example, you can highlight or write key terms or titles in different colors. This way, you can easily refer back to your notes when you need to find answers. Rewriting notes could serve as a study method in itself because the more times you are exposed to information, the more likely you are to remember it. There are also different types of note-taking systems that you can try to learn which one works best for you. 

3. Take Breaks 

Spacing out your studying means that you’ll need to take breaks! To be able to do this properly, you cannot procrastinate and leave everything until the last minute. If you do, that means you’ll have to cram without any time for breaks. However, distributing your learning and practice is a key study skill because you’ll come to find that the more you absorb, the longer period of time you can sit and learn. This is because you won’t be overloading your brain at each turn. Once you gain some momentum with your memory, it’ll be easier to add more information without becoming overwhelmed or exhausting yourself. However, as you ramp up the learning process, you will need those breaks to recharge and fully take in everything you have learned up until your break time. 

4. Practice Testing

Taking practice tests is an active way to gauge how you are understanding course materials. It could be the case that your professor has provided you with practice tests or you have to search for them online. As much as you can, take practice tests because learning through memory retrieval is one of the best ways to ensure that you know the material. The more practice tests you take, the better your ability to connect information within your brain will be so you can call upon answers more quickly over time. 

5. Self-Explanation 

Self-explanation is a wonderful study skill for when you have to read to learn. As you read through your textbook or online educational resources (OER), take pauses to explain to yourself what you have just read. This helps to make sure that you aren’t just reading the words to get through them, but that you are actually absorbing the information. As you explain what you are reading, you may see that you get stuck on certain ideas or cannot fully finish your thought. If this happens, it serves as an indicator that you have to go back and reread that section. Through these exercises, you can find where you have gaps in understanding so that you can fill them in and connect the dots fully. 

Source: Unsplash 

Know the Study Cycle

The Study Cycle, which was adapted from Frank Christ, is a guide for effective studying. It includes the multiple stages within education in which students learn, including:

  1. Preview: skimming material before class and making notes of the big ideas 
  2. Attend: Showing up to class, taking notes, and asking questions
  3. Review: Reading notes and filling in any missing gaps 
  4. Study: Scheduling several study sessions per week to absorb the material
  5. Check: Self-evaluating if you have absorbed the information well enough to be able to teach it to someone else 

Taking yourself through the study cycle for every subject will help you to overcome weak points and be prepared for your next exam! 

Final Thoughts

The five effective study skills listed in this article provide you with a well-rounded way to truly learn whatever information you are studying. This way, you can evaluate how well you are learning, be prepared for your exams, and wholeheartedly understand the information you are building upon. 

If you practice these study skills, it will become easier over time so that you can master your major of choice.