Study tips to help reduce stress

Elly Arganbright

Studying does not have to be a struggle. Susan Rhoades, assistant director of the Academic Success Center, offered advice to students about healthy study habits. Save the stress and use these 10 simple study tips to prepare for tests.

Study Tip #1: Prioritize

How can you use your time when it seems you have so little?

College is a new experience. Most students can expect to feel a new sense of freedom, but with that freedom comes more responsibility.

“The student has to be the one in control of how they spend their time and how they study,” Rhoades said.

College is a busy time. Prioritize your busy life and manage your time according to your priorities.

Study Tip #2: Preview

When there is so much information, where do you start?

A good idea is to preview the material before you actually start to study. Look over your syllabus and skim the reading assignments before you sit down to read them. This will help you get an idea of what you will be learning and which material will be harder than the rest.

You may have to dedicate more time to studying the more difficult subjects, so plan your time wisely.

Study Tip #3: Organize

How can you separate the material so it is not overwhelming?

Keep a calendar and a list of things you need to do. Know when your tests are so that you can be prepared. Organize the material. Mind maps are helpful: pick out the main ideas, and then associate as many details as you can, connecting each detail with its main concept.

Study Tip #4: Stay engaged

Trying to read line after line in your textbook can become a bit dreary. How can you stay focused?

Learn to be an active reader. Take notes as you read. If you buy a book, don’t be afraid to write on the pages. Highlight the main ideas in each section.

“Laying on the bed is really a bad habit,” Rhoades said.

It may help to stand up and read, or even walk around a bit. If you’ve got a long assignment, take five-minute breaks every so often to let your mind rest.

Study Tip #5: Make the material meaningful.

You’ve read the material, you’ve taken notes, and it’s starting to make sense. Now how do you get those lessons to stick in your mind?

Try to connect the ideas to your own life or interests.

“Relate what it is you’re reading to either something in your past experience, [or] if it’s brand new material, think ‘How might I need to use this in the future?'” Rhoades said.

Try using mnemonics — learning devices such as acronyms or rhymes — to help you remember complicated ideas.

Study Tip #6: Test yourself.

How can you be sure that you really know the material?

Make your own quizzes over what you’ve learned. After a lecture or after reading, think about the material and recall everything you can.

Teach others. If you really understand the material, you should be able to teach it to someone else. This reiteration will also help the material stick in your mind.

Study Tip #7: Find a suitable study spot

Where is the best place to study?

What makes a  perfect study spot, depends on the person seeking it, Rhoades said.

Parks Library on campus is a good option for those who need a calm, quiet space with nearly no distractions.

For group studying, try the Hixson-Lied center across from Maple-Willow-Larch dorms.

If you need a bit of noise to keep your mind awake, try The Hub near the library or the Memorial Union.

“Find a space [where] you’re comfortable, but not too comfortable,” Rhoades said.

Study Tip #8: Avoid cramming for tests.

Is studying the night before really the best way?

“Think about studying as a continuous process,” Rhoades said.

Everything from going to class, to reviewing your notes, to meeting with study groups becomes a part of the learning process. Studying doesn’t have to be a last-minute ordeal. Don’t exhaust your brain by staying up all night to study.

Study Tip #9: Review

How can you constantly prepare yourself for tests throughout the semester?

After class or after you’ve finished a reading, go through and review your notes. Try to remember as much as you can. Reread the portions you struggled to recall.

If you are constantly reviewing, the material “becomes second nature,” Rhoades said.

Study Tip #10: Ask for help when you need it.

Where can you go for help when you just can’t seem to wrap your mind around the material?

Make use of your professor’s office hours. If you have a few questions or need something clarified, send an email to your professor and set up a time to meet.

The Academic Success Center, located on the second floor of the Hixson-Lied Student Success Center, offers additional resources to students, including academic coaching, tutoring and a one-credit course called Psychology 101 that teaches academic skills.

The Writing and Media Help Center in Carver Hall is a valuable resource for those seeking assistance with writing skills.

For more information about specific study skills and academic resources, visit the Academic Success Center’s website at