Studying in college can be difficult. The reason that I found studying so difficult sometimes was because I was too caught up in what my classmates were doing, and I put too much weight in that. Everyone studies differently and it’s all about finding a study method that works best for you. Today I am going to share tons of study techniques and tricks, but it’s up to you to find which techniques work best for you and executing them.
1. Create A Study Guide
So many college students only think of creating a study guide when their professor gives them one to fill out, but you can create study guides yourself. A while ago the lovely Amelie from A Wanderer’s Adventures shared her advice on this blog about how to create a college study guide. I love her method, and it continues to help people every day. Creating your own study guide is a great way to learn and review material for class while you are studying for a test or assignment.
This Works Best If: You have somewhat of a knowledge of what your professor’s tests will look like and you want to dig through the test material. Also, if you didn’t procrastinate and have more time on your hands to study,
2. Use Flash Cards
If you have a particularly vocabulary heavy major, I encourage you to try flashcards. These never really worked for me unless I was taking a foreign language or history classes. I was a sociology major so I didn’t find flashcards particularly helpful for keeping up with things I was learning. These can be very helpful in any general education course or in science-heavy courses where memorization is key. I really love this post on Oh Hey Hannah’s site all about how to study flashcards. This post is very helpful in making sure that you are studying flashcards in a helpful way.
This Works Best If: You have a major with a ton of vocab, dates, etc. Works especially well in intro classes.
3. Teach Your Friends
If you can teach the material, chances are you know the material well. By teaching your friends about the subjects you are learning, you can go over the material and really take it to heart. So gather some friends and teach them a subject you are studying for, answer their questions, and just talk through concepts you are learning. I feel this technique works even if you don’t have a concrete thing like math. Even the most liberal arts concepts can be taught and help you learn.
This Works Best If: You like to talk things out or you are an education major. Also, if you have a large pool of friends or lots of friends in your major so you aren’t constantly teaching the same people/your friends are also getting something out of being taught.
4. Get Your Friends To Quiz You
Another way to get your friends involved is by giving them your flashcards or study guide and asking them to ask you questions from the pile. This may work best if your friend is in the same major that you are in, but if your flashcards and study guide are filled out nicely, it won’t matter much. Getting quizzed is helpful because it puts you on the spot and helps you work through all of the issues you are working on.
This Works Best If: You have a great set of notes, study guide, or flash cards OR your friend is also studying your major. A friend who is quizzing you on the wrong stuff won’t be helpful for you when you take your test.
5. Rewrite Your Notes
When we write our notes they are often sloppy and not super helpful. When you re-write your notes you are taken back to writing them and you are able to write them in a much more coherent way and you may even remember some details you left out in the beginning. It’s a great way to make your notes easier to read and understand. You could type your rewritten notes, but I think that there is something positive that happens when you hand write them, plus you are much less likely to be distracted by tabs on your computer.
This Works Best If: Your notes are very sloppy (me!) and rewriting them will help you seal them in more. Also if you learn by writing or reading.
6. Read Your Notes Aloud
If you are an auditory learner like I am, another study technique you can use is simply reading your notes aloud. I used this method all the time and it helped me understand my notes and commit them to memory which helped me when it came time to take a test.
This Works Best If: You are an auditory learner and you have written great and helpful notes.
7. Re-Listen To Course Lectures
This is another technique for auditory learners out there. If you have permission, record your lectures on a recorder such as your phone. Then on your own time, re-listen to those lectures. This is a great idea for anyone who has a hard time keeping up in class or just needs to listen to a lecture or two again for clarification. Make sure that you categorize your lectures well when you are storing them. They should always have a descriptive title that includes things like the date and course name.
This Works Best If: You are an auditory learner and your professor’s lectures aren’t boring AF.
8. Watch Videos About Course Subjects
There are SO many great YouTube channels out there that can help you by providing some great information about course subjects. One of my personal favorites is the Crash Course channel. They cover tons of topics on that channel and are always adding more. There are other options, though, which you can usually find by just searching for your course topic on YouTube to find videos about it.
This Works Best If: You are a visual learner and you can find videos that closely relate to the subject at hand at the right grade level.
9. Take Practice Tests
This isn’t always an option but some professors have past tests that they have made about the topic, especially if they have been using the same course materials for a while. You can also create a practice test for the content by using the questions provided throughout your course textbook as well as any quizzes you have taken in the past. Some professors don’t go out of their way to create test questions and just use questions from the textbook company or use past quiz questions which is helpful for you. Some textbook companies even provide practice tests online if the book has an internet study area. In math classes, it can be very easy to create practice tests which will help you work everything out before your test.
This Works Best If: Your professors actually depends on the book a lot for course material. If they do, chances are they will depend on the book for the test. Also if you have a major like math where you know what you will be tested over, it will just feature different numbers.
10. Create Diagrams & Mind Maps
If you are in a STEM course chances are you have used a diagram to study because they can be extremely useful for things like remembering the periodic table or remembering parts of a brain. Mind maps are also beneficial for those learning a topic or organizing your thoughts around a topic. I love this post from Mind Meister that showcases all the ways that you may use a mind map as a student. Quizlet actually recently released a diagrams feature which will be really helpful for anyone wanting to use diagrams to study. They also, not surprisingly, already have a ton of diagrams up for you to use while studying.
Creating diagrams like timelines may also be useful for liberal arts majors (specifically history majors) so you can place events in your discipline or in history as a whole on a timeline.
This Works Best If: You are a visual learner or you need to label a lot of things on tests for your major. People in anatomy or other science-related majors, rejoice!
11. Create Songs & Stories
Anything you can create that will help you trigger memories and thought processes while you are studying will be a helpful study technique. I loved to create stories about what I was learning while in college but songs can also be helpful…At the most basic level creating a mnemonic device can also help you trigger memories during a test. If you are interested in how to create mnemonic devices, check out this post from Oxford Learning.
This Works Best If: You are an auditory/visual learner and you need a creative way to learn things.
12. Get A Tutor
Last, but certainly not least, get a tutor. Chances are your university has a tutoring program already in place and chances are it’s free or close to free. Go make an appointment for that service and learn from someone new if you just aren’t learning adequately with your professor’s help or your own help. It’s always great to seek out extra help if it’s needed.
This Works Best If: Your professor’s words just aren’t cutting the mustard and you need extra help to understand course material.
Today I shared twelve study techniques that you can use. Obviously, do not use every single one, that wouldn’t make sense. Try out different techniques that you think would be beneficial for you. At the end of the day, that’s all you can hope for. Your goal should never be to chase what everyone else is doing, but instead, it should be to focus on what could benefit you and help you study more effectively.