study tips for college

If you’re a college student who’s having trouble studying effectively, you might be looking for study tips for college. Here are all the best study tips coming from someone who graduated college with a 3.94 GPA!

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study tips for college

Learning how to study in college can be HARD, so lots of people need some study tips for college to help them study effectively.

It is definitely a difficult adjustment from taking classes in high school to taking classes in college, but throughout my college career, I figured out the best (and most efficient) ways to study. Now, I’m sharing them with you. These are the exact methods I used to graduate college with a 3.94 GPA and ace most of my tests!

Whether you’re looking for study tips for college freshman, study tips for college exams, or tips for how to study in general, after you read this post you’ll be ready to tackle your college classes!

This post is all about study tips for college.

The Best Study Tips For College

Before You Actually Start Studying

Sitting down to study for an exam is only part of the study process. There are a lot of things that you can do beforehand that will really set you up for success! Here are some of my best tips for what you can do before you actually start studying. 

1. Actively Listen in Class

Actively listening in class takes a lot of the work out of studying.

If you put a little effort into really trying to stay engaged in class, you’ll absorb a lot of the information as you go. Then when you go to study for exams, you’ll be reviewing the material rather than learning it for the first time. 

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2. Take Notes in Your Own Words

Something that will help you when it comes to active listening and  engaging in the material is taking notes in your own words.

When I was taking notes, I would write things in a way that “later me” would understand when I was studying. I would phrase things in the way that I speak rather than writing what the professor was saying verbatim.

This will really help you get a gauge on whether or not you understand the material! If you don’t understand what you’re learning well enough to write it in your own words, make sure to ask questions in class and make a note of it (I would put a little star or highlight concepts I didn’t understand in a specific color) so you can go back and study it more intensely later on.

3. Write Due Dates in a Planner

study tips for college freshman

A big part of studying effectively in college is keeping track of due dates and exam dates so you know when to study for things.

I highly, highly recommend writing down all important dates so you don’t forget any assignments. This also helps you plan ahead of time.

4. Schedule Study Time. DON’T CRAM!

Blocking out time in your calendar to study is SO important. Giving yourself grey area and being like “eh it’ll get done when it gets done” is not a way to set yourself up for success! Make sure you schedule study sessions ahead of time.

Dividing your study time into shorter study sessions will help you retain information a lot better than if you did one big cram sesh the night before.

How soon in advance I started studying depended on the class and how hard the exams were. After the first exams of the semester, you’ll probably have a decent feel for how much studying you’ll need to do for future exams. Ideally, I would try to start studying little by little a couple of weeks before the exam.

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5. Create a Good Study Environment

One of my biggest tips is to make sure you’re in a space where you’ll be productive. Studying in bed or on the couch is probably not the best idea.

Coffee shops and libraries are known for being good spots to study, but everyone is different . Also, COVID has made it so that more and more people have to study from home. I personally took tons of online classes at home, and here are some of my best tips for creating a good study environment at home:

Youtube Ambiances

One of the things that helped me the most when it came to productivity at home was playing YouTube ambiances. There are tons to choose from, but my favorites were Harry Potter ambiances, coffee shop ambiances, and cozy ambiances.

They’re basically cozy scenes with background noise that play for hours. I found that it was a good amount of background noise to help me focus without being distracting!

Having a Designated Study Space

At home, it’s super important to have a designated space just for  studying. This will help your brain get into study mode when you go to that space. Whether it’s a specific corner in your living room, a desk in another room, or somewhere else, it’s important to have.

Put Your Phone Away 

It’s too easy  to pick up your phone during a study sesh and get absolutely sucked into the void. Suddenly you’ve been scrolling TikTok for hours without any progress.

To avoid this, I would recommend putting your phone somewhere where it isn’t easy to grab. When I need to be productive, I like to put my phone in a drawer in another room so the temptation to grab it isn’t even there. Doing this will help you get a lot more done in a shorter amount of time!

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How To Study

Now that you’ve created a good plan for study success ahead of time, it’s time to actually start studying! Here are the methods I used to study that helped me get A’s. 

6. Review Your Notes/Course Materials

The first thing you’re going to do when studying is to review your notes and any course materials that will be on the test, such as required readings or lecture slides.

When I would review my notes, I would usually highlight the concepts I was having trouble with so I could come back and give them some extra attention once I had a good grasp on everything else.

7. Use Flashcards

After you’ve reviewed the concepts, it might help you to make some flashcards. Writing things out by hand will help you even more when it comes to retaining the information.

Let’s be honest, while making flashcards is SUPER helpful if you need the extra studying, it can also be very time-consuming.

What I would usually do was find a website that has flashcards and study help, and I’d type my class in to see if anyone had made flashcards for it and I’d study those. If nothing popped up when I searched the class, I’d search the textbook and chapters the exam was covering to find something!

Related Post: The Study Method That Will Help You Ace Your Next Exam

8.  Study with Bartleby Online 

Another super helpful thing to do when studying is to use an online study/homework help service to help you with any questions you might have. I really liked doing this if I couldn’t figure out an answer to a study guide or if I was having issues with a particular concept. Doing this can be so much more efficient than looking for an answer to a question on Google for hours upon hours.

A Bartleby+ subscription gets you 24/7 access to live tutors, millions of textbook and homework solutions, video explanations, and lots of other study, writing, and homework tools.

9. Take Practice Tests/Quizzes

A great way to test your knowledge before an exam is by doing practice tests and quizzes. If your textbook doesn’t already have some, search online to see if you can find old tests from your class!

Tests that come from the actual class or professor would be the best to study if you can find them. If you can’t find any, practice tests about the subject matter in general are also super useful.

Taking practice tests will get your brain into critical thinking mode where you’re actually applying what you’ve learned to questions.

9. Imagine the Questions You’ll Be Tested On

Another way I liked to study for exams was to imagine questions I thought the professor would ask. This would kind of happen simultaneously with all the other study steps I’ve outlined.

For example, instead of just memorizing and being like “the dog is brown,” in my head I’d be thinking of questions like “what makes the dog brown,” or “what effect does the dog being brown have on its ability to be adopted,” and things like that. What questions you think of will depend on the class, but pondering the material like that is a game changer!

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10. Ask Your Professor for Help

If you’re having trouble with the class, I highly recommend reaching out to your professor and letting them know. Most professors really care about how their students are doing, but they can’t help you unless they know you need it.

Remember, you’re paying for the class! It’s in your best interest to get the most out of it, and your professor can help you do that.

11. Reward Yourself for Hard Work

My last tip for staying motivated to study is to reward yourself! Studying is hard work and you deserve to celebrate that. Even studying for 10 mins is an accomplishment, so remember to celebrate your small wins along the way!

This post was all about the best study tips for college to help you ace your exams.

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