Classroom & Study Skills

Classroom Skills

Adapted from How to Get Good Grades in College by Linda O'Brien

Attendance & Prep

  • Attend every class and be on time. This is the number one factor in student success in college. When you miss class, you miss lecture notes, class discussions, homework explanations, assignments, quizzes, and tests.
  • Be prepared for each class. Complete assignments before class. Lectures will be easier to follow, and you will better understand class discussions. Be an active listener. Do not be afraid to ask questions! If you have a question, chances are 90% of the class has the same question.
  • Sit in the front of the class when possible. Research shows that sitting in the front of the class is directly related to higher grades. It is easier to see the board and to ask questions. 

Lecture & Notes

  • Bring your book to class if the lecture follows the text. This can help you stay focused. You can also add notes in your book as to what is important during the lecture. This will help in studying for tests later.
  • Use a system for taking notes (see Note-Taking Skills). If your instructor uses slideshow presentations and posts them online, print them up before class; you can add information to them in class.
  • Listen for cue words or phrases like, "This is important," or "This may be on the test," or "To summarize..." All instructors give clues to what is important and what may be on tests. They may repeat the information more than once. They may pause before giving information to make sure everyone is listening. These are cues that the material is important and will probably be on the test.
  • After class, spend 5-15 minutes going over notes as soon as possible. Clarify, summarize, and think about the major concepts that you learned. Mark information that you think may be on a quiz or test.

Instructors & Peers

  • Communicate with your instructors. Instructors should give you their contact info and office hours. Do not hesitate to contact an instructor when you have a question, concern, or problem. Most instructors will be happy to help you. If you get to know your instructors, you'll feel more connected to the class and more motivated to do the work. And if things get rough, you will have formed a relationship with your instructor and will be able to communicate your needs and circumstances.
  • Lean how to adapt to different instructors. Every instructor is different. Part of the college experience is learning how to learn regardless of the instructor's teaching style. You are responsible for your own learning. 
  • Setup a study group. Get to know your classmates. If you setup a study group, you will help members of the group reinforce what you are studying. You can also compare notes to make sure you did not miss anything. Get a class buddy that you can share notes with, or text if you need to clarify something, or if you miss class.

Study Habits & Skills

Adapted from How to Get Good Grades in College by Linda O'Brien

Before Studying...

  • For every credit hour, plan to spend two hours of study time outside of class (e.g. 12 credit hours = 36 total hours of school).
  • Find a good place to study on a regular basis. Does it have a writing surface, good lighting, and is it slightly uncomfortable? Good.  You do not want to fall asleep! Make sure it is ready to go with paper, pens, pencils, etc. Before you start, eliminate anything that could distract you or interrupt your concentration. Some students find studying on campus creates a good environment.
  • Know your learning style preferences and prepare your study materials based on them.
  • Know when you study best, so you can organize your studying time for when you are most productive.
  • Organize your study time and always allow more time than you think you will need! Before you start, make a realistic plan.
    • If you have a something that seems overwhelming, chunk it down into smaller parts.
    • Be specific! Instead of saying "I will study biology," say "I will read and study pages 12-20, and do review questions at the end of the section."
    • If you have a lot to do, prioritize your work to make sure that you have enough time for the things that are most important. Check out the Eisenhower Matrix for prioritization and modify it to your needs.

While Studying...

  • Getting started on your studying is sometimes the hardest part. Do not wait until you are in the mood. If you have trouble getting started, begin with something simple, or a subject you like.
  • Alternate between types of assignments so you can stay engaged.
  • Know when to take a break. Get up, stretch, walk around, etc. This might look different for everyone - some people may work for 25-minute spurts wih 5-minute breaks. Others might do well working for 60-minute spurts with 10-minute breaks. Figure out what works for you!

  • To avoid internal distractions: Keep a to-do list nearby and record any reminders to yourself or worries that may distract you while you are studying (e.g., buy toilet paper, call mom, feed the dog). Dump them out of your brain so you can clear your mind for studying.

  • Use a concentration score sheet. Each time you find your mind wandering, make a check mark on the sheet. Within just a few study sessions, you should find that you have far fewer check marks and far greater concentration.