Study Skills

It’s not the smartest students who get the best grades, it’s the students who think smarter. They have learned how to develop good study skills, and have found memory techniques that help them retain what they learn easier.

Here are a few tips that will help anyone do better in school:

1. You have to WANT to do well. That means accepting responsibility for your own actions. Get up and go to class and commit to study time. You have to step up to the plate, this isn’t high school any more.

2.   Make good class choices. Pick classes you believe you can do that fit into your requirements for the degree you have chosen. Choose electives you are actually interested in — not just an easy A — if it’s boring it won’t be that easy to remember or get through.

3. Know your limits. Too many classes will stress you out and your grades will suffer. If you are trying for more than one major, know that you can do it. If you have to work and go to school, make sure you give yourself enough time to study and work.

4. Get organized. Keep a calendar of your class schedule, exams, due dates for term papers, and don’t forget to schedule study time for each course. Adjust as needed, and keep all your necessary materials and books in the same place so you don’t waste time looking for them when you need them. If you are stressed out from lack of organization, memorizing what you need will be a whole lot harder.

5. Don’t skip a class. Getting good grades depends on knowing the material, and if you are there to participate and ask questions you have a better chance of understanding and remembering the material covered. It’s amazing what gets covered in one class, and the class you miss may be the one that covers some major information that will be on your final.

6. Write down everything — take good notes. Teachers don’t waste their time doing PowerPoint or writing on the blackboard without a purpose. It probably will be on a test later. Take notes if you have a question, so you can ask the teacher later, and when they say something more often than once it is worth remembering.

7. Pay attention!  It’s fine to record the class for future reference, but the recording is a tool for you to replay and remember what you heard and saw. It doesn’t take the place of paying attention in class.

8. Don’t multitask while studying. When you study you study, and when you play you play. You can’t do both at the same time. The best way to get good grades is to keep your mind focused on your studies.

9. Practice testing yourself. Use all the tools you have been given — homework,  labs, previous, handouts, study guides, notes you have taken, and hints the TA or professor may have given you to put questions together that you think will be on the test. Don’t use your notes when taking the practice test and set a time limit. This should show you the areas you need more study in, and should eliminate any surprises when you come to the real test.

10. Do the proper research. Find out what the professor expects, and refer to assignment sheets and instructions provided for you. Don’t do your research paper from Wikipedia or blind Google searches. Blind searches will not provide the quality work expected of you, and will not help to improve grades.

11. Take advantage of the professor and the TA. That’s what they’re there for. They usually give their office hours and contacts during the first class session. Make sure you write them down.

12. Form study groups. Bouncing ideas and questions off others can help you to understand the subject better. Work with people who are trying to do well, and hopefully as smart or smarter than you. Meet at least once a week.

13. Plan ahead. You are given a timeline in your class, so you know several weeks ahead (usually) when the term paper is due, when mid-terms are, and so on. Don’t wait until the day before to start working on a paper, or memorizing for the test. The quality of the work would be in-adequate and your grades will suffer. If you aren’t organized enough to start your term paper early, don’t ask for an extension because you won’t get it done then either.

14. Ask if you can do extra credit. Some courses allow for special activities or extra credit work to improve your grade. It could be the difference between a final grade of aB plus or an A minus if you take advantage of the opportunity.

15. Party in moderation! College is a great adventure — but don’t go diving into the social side of it too hard. After all, you are there for an education first. Too much of a “good thing” can ruin your grades, and could just get you kicked out before you finish. Getting drunk the night before a big test will not help your GPA, and could change your life. Eat right, exercise and get plenty of sleep to keep your mind sharp.

16. Probably the most important advise – Believe in Yourself! You can do anything you set your mind to, but you have to believe it yourself. Stay focused, and don’t let others distract you from your goal.

Memory training is more than just memorizing a bunch of words or a list, it involves getting your body and your mind in the best shape to function as a unit — good sleep, proper nutrition, boyd and brain exercises, and utilizing all the tools at your disposal will get you through college, and life, a lot easier and happier than those who don’t.

This lesson was shared by two time USA Memory Champion and memory speaker, Ron White.

Articles Database — Getting Good Grades by Bonny Bucknam:
WiHOW — How to Get Good Grades:
10 Tips for Getting Good (or Better) Grades by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D. —

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