Studying for Undergraduate Courses

Studying for undergraduate courses in college can be a lot different than studying for tests in high school. Many undergraduate courses only have two tests throughout the semester, the midterm and final, which require a lot of studying to keep up to date on the material.

Studying is different than homework. Homework refers to any assignment that is given and has to be completed. The purpose of homework is to reinforce skills learned. Studying is when the student goes through material learned in class on their own to prepare for tests. Studying can take different forms, but students should find what works for them, whether that is study guides, outlines or flashcards.

Studying requires time management. Many professors recommend that students spend two hours per week on each credit hour taken. Many students are enrolled in 12-15 credits to be full-time students, which is obviously a lot of time dedicated to studying. Studying too much in one session can lead to burnout and the material won’t be absorbed. Cramming before the test usually is not effective. See how long it takes on one subject before your mind begins to wonder so you can plan effective study sessions. When planning out studying time, prioritize. Spend time focusing on harder subjects and ones that you need to improve your grade on. If you do the harder subjects first, your mind will be fresh to better absorb the material.

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Finding a productive place to study is key. Some students like background noise and prefer to study some place like a coffee shop. Others prefer quiet and want to study in the library, so they can minimize distractions.

There will often be a lot of required reading for undergraduate courses. Keeping up with this reading will help with studying. If you do the reading before class, you will have an idea of what the professor is lecturing about, and you won’t have to cram to get all the reading done before a test.

Note taking is an important part of an undergraduate course, and you want to take proper notes so that you can use them for studying later on. Many professors will lecture with PowerPoint, and a lot of students spend time trying to write the content on each slide. Ask the professor if a copy of the PowerPoint will be online so you can spend time writing down information that the professor says that you would otherwise miss, had you not been in class. Some like to bring a laptop to take notes, but only bring a laptop if you aren’t going to use it for distractions in class. Spend time going over notes after class so that you can help the knowledge sink in. Many students find it a good idea to rewrite or retype notes and organize them as part of their studying.

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