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Study Skills

You may have heard "Study hard and you'll go far." But, studying doesn’t have to be hard. Strategic studying is smart thinking. Here are some tips and suggestions for getting smarter, easier.

In general, plan to study for 3 hours for every 1 hour of class time.


  • As early in the day as possible
  • 1 or 2 hour increments
  • Spread over the course of the week
  • At a consistent time

On this page:

Know Your Learning Style
Take Notes
Choose the Best Place and Time to Study
Organize Your Studying
Use Study Groups

Know Your Learning Style

Common categories for learning styles are visual, auditory or kinesthetic (VAK). There are many more ways to think about learning styles. VAK is one system that is easy to remember and apply.


Your preference includes seeing the concept, or imagining what it would look like. Try these tips:

  • Look at all of the materials.
  • Look at all the pictures. Seek out pictures or images that enhance your understanding.
  • Map out or diagram the relationships between elements of the material.
  • Create shapes that symbolize the concepts. Label them.
  • Use color coding to help remember and categorize concepts.
  • Visualize words, concepts.
  • Take notes for visual review.
  • Write out flashcards then review visually.


Your preference includes listening to sounds, cadence and tones related to the material to help you remember and understand. Try these tips:

  • Listen to available audio recordings.
  • Sit where you hear well. Ask the educator to repeat, if you have not understood.
  • Use a recorder to record lessons, and listen to them later.
  • Read out loud.
  • Put information to music or rhythm.
  • Give different voices to the concepts and carry out an imaginary conversation between them. Pretend to interview the concepts on the radio. What would each say and how would they sound different from one another?


Your preference is to feel, sense and move as you learn. Try these tips:

  • Touch or sense. This may involve turning pages, smelling a scent related to the concept, holding instruments to feel the shape and weight, taking notes with a pen that feels "just right" in your hand, for example.
  • Write notes several times.
  • Make study sheets or flashcards.
  • Literally move within the concepts. Diagram relationships of concepts, then trace them with your finger. Or make larger symbols and place them around a room and walk from one concept to the other, to actually feel the connections and order.
  • Move around - walk - while you are studying.
  • Act the concepts out; use items to represent concepts and move them around a table top "stage." Or act the concepts out, each represented by different gestures and movements.
  • Use tactile (and small) items to squeeze or feel while learning. Make sure the activity is quiet and not visually distracting to others, but keeps your hands busy. Doodling can keep your hands moving.

When you organize your note taking and studying in a familiar learning style, the information may be retained more easily. It is also important to develop other learning styles. The instructor or materials may not deliver the information with your preferred style in mind. One advantage to knowing your preference is to ask the educator to deliver the information in that style (if working individually with the educator.) For example, if your preferred learning style is kinesthetic, you could ask the educator to allow you to hold the mouse as they initially demonstrate a new computer related sequence, rather than them holding the mouse and showing you first.

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Take Notes

  • They are a written record of material delivered in class.
  • They help you organize complex information.
  • They help you process information by giving you the opportunity to "put things in your own words" during study time.
  • They force you to listen more attentively.
  • They serve as additional sensory input.

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Choose the Best Place and Time to Study

  • Choose a comfortable place, but not one meant for relaxing (such as a bed).
  • Choose a space that has little distractions.
  • Choose a space with adequate light and temperature.
  • Break your study time down! Small tasks over a longer time are achievable.
  • Know what you need to get done.
  • Start right away.
  • Study for the entire time you have scheduled.
  • Take breaks.
  • Reward yourself with a small treat: a 5 minute walk, a cup of tea, going outside, etc.
  • Studying is like a marathon - one step at a time. Set goal to get to the mile mark by a certain time. Set goal to get to section X by a certain time.

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Organize Your Studying

Scan, Question, Read, Rite/Recite, Review. Use this acronym : SQ3R


  • Look at the table of contents
  • Title of the chapter
  • Section headings
  • Vocabulary words
  • Tables
  • Figures
  • Pictures
  • Chapter summaries
  • Chapter questions


  • Write down questions that you think you will need to know to understand the chapter
  • Or use the questions in the book!


  • Read for the answers to the questions
  • Read with a purpose!


  • Write the answers
  • Recite for additional sensory input


  • Review these questions and answers

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Use Study Groups

Study Groups work well to:

  • Break up the workload (with instructor's permission)
  • Gain others' points of view
  • Learn new ways to think about and remember the material
  • Group members can make up test questions and then quiz each other

Study Groups don't work well when they become social group instead of work group.

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