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Study Skills: Study Methods/Tips

It's All About The Notes

  • Be sure to read any material the instructor assigned before class
    • Take notes about the material you read ahead of class
    • Write down any questions you have or make notes about items you don't understand
  • Take effective notes during class
    • figure out the right method of note-taking for you
    • figure out the right type of notes for the material
  • Review your notes within 24 hours of the class
    • add to or clarify your notes
    • possibly re-write your notes
  • Review your notes 
    • prior to your test
    • several times before your test if the class is long before the test

Order of Study


Recite aloud

Write notes in your own words

Ask yourself questions about the material


Memorize after you have a solid understanding of the material


Create connections with the material

It is easier to recall new information if it is attached to old, easily retrieved information.  Associate new information with older, easily-retrieved material.

If possible, connect what you are learning to a picture.  Having an image to associate with a concept strengthens the memory.

Take the visual concept even further.  Place notes about specific concepts in specific study areas.  You will associate the concepts with that area and it will aid in recall

Self Test

One of the most effective methods of improving test performance is to take practice tests.  Here are some suggestions:

  • See if your instructor can provide a practice test or a copy of an old test
  • Create practice questions as you read or review your notes and use these questions to test yourself
  • Work with a study group to create a bank of study questions for the test
  • Subscribe to a question bank if available
  • The library may have question/answer books about your topic, especially if there is a professional exam for your field
  • Complete your practice test under similar (or harder) conditions as the actual test (timed, without open book/notes)

SQ3R - For learning from text


Before you start reading, skim over or survey the material to get an idea of key concepts and themes.  Focus on chapter headings and subheadings, introductions, and images.  Get an idea of the theme of the chapter so you can put the material in context when you read


As you survey the material, develop questions that will help you focus on the material when you are reading.  Use the chapter headings, subheadings, introductions and images to help develop the questions.

Read, Recall, Review

It's time to read the text.  Read to understand.  Try to answer the questions you developed in the prior steps.  When you finish reading, recall the text and summarize it for yourself.  Focus on the main concepts and themes.  This will develop your recall abilities.  Finally, review the questions you developed and answer them without referring to the text or any notes you took.  Can you answer the questions from memory?


Organize material into meaningful clusters - this will help with recall


Create a study routine.

Follow the same steps to get yourself into "study mode"

Prepare your space, your snacks and drinks, and yourself so that you can focus

Liaison Librarian

Use Your Senses

Expose as many senses as possible to the study material

Write it

Speak it

Hear it

Visualize it

Explain it to someone else

Use Study Aids

Note cards of key words, concepts, vocabulary, definitions, equations

Practice problems

Explain concepts to others

Join a study group