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Top 40 Study Strategies

Time management

  1. Start using a calendar, planner, or task list at the start of the semester.
  2. Write down important dates for exams, assignments and other projects on a calendar.
  3. Make a weekly or monthly schedule to get an overall picture of when you'll be busiest and when you have free time.
  4. Make a task list to keep track of things you need to do on a daily basis.
  5. Although some people like to use lots of tools to manage their time, it's not always necessary. Decide on one or two that will help you the most.
  6. Use short breaks in your daily schedule (such as an hour between classes) wisely. Schedule appointments on campus, check email or Courselink, or review your class notes.
  7. Break large tasks into smaller pieces that can be completed within a few hours (or even a few minutes).
  8. Procrastination happens, but don't let it take over your life. Pay attention to what makes you procrastinate and try to avoid these triggers, especially during high stress times.
  9. No one can - or wants to - study all the time! Plan your time to include doing things that you enjoy.
  10. Be patient and flexible. If certain time management strategies don't work for you, try a different strategy.

Listening and note-taking

  1. Go to class — there's no substitute for the real thing.
  2. Find out how you'll be evaluated on the material from lectures. For example, are the lectures based on material from the textbook, or is the content entirely different?
  3. Come prepared to class by bringing printed copies of slides or lecture notes.
  4. Do assigned readings before the lecture in order to participate in class discussion, better follow the lecture, and ask meaningful questions.
  5. Disconnect your internet connection in class or leave your laptop at home.
  6. Listen actively by comparing what you hear in the lecture to what you learned in the last lecture, what you read in the textbook, or what you see on the slides.
  7. Concentrate to get the most out of the lectures. Sit where you can hear and see everything you need to.
  8. Organize your notes after the lecture by identifying main topics and key terms, underlining or using different colours for important points, and making diagrams or concept maps to illustrate relationships.
  9. Compare your notes with a study partner's notes on a regular basis in order to fill in missing information and identify what you know and what's unclear.
  10. Review your notes on a weekly basis to prepare in advance for exams.

Textbook reading

  1. Find out how you'll be evaluated on your knowledge of the readings. For example, do you need to know the textbook inside out? Or is the text a supplement to the lectures?
  2. Think carefully about reading strategies and techniques that will help you the most in each course. Skimming, scanning, and in-depth methods can all be good reading strategies, depending on the course.
  3. Break long readings up into shorter, smaller chunks, depending on how long you can concentrate in that subject area. No one can read for hours at a time and remember details well.
  4. Find a quiet, comfortable place to read. Your body associates your bed with sleeping, so it's probably not the best place!
  5. Preview the reading by noting the subtitles and headings, looking at diagrams, and skimming through the introduction and summary.
  6. Reflect on the content as you read and take notes. How is the reading connected to the course lectures? In what way does it connect to the main ideas in the course?
  7. Pay attention to your attention span. Take a quick break if you can't remember what you just read.
  8. Summarize and take notes in your own words to help you understand and retain information. Don't rely on highlighting as your main method of note-taking.
  9. If you tend to read the textbook after a lecture, review your lecture notes before you read, and don't take additional notes on the material already well explained in your lecture notes.
  10. Review the notes from your readings on a regular basis to keep them fresh in your memory.

Exam preparation

  1. Locate one or two good study places with few distractions or interruptions.
  2. Review the course outline for information about what your professor expects you to learn in the course.
  3. Review previous quizzes, assignments, papers, labs, etc. to pinpoint where you've had difficulty in the course. Make sure you understand that material since you may see it again in the next exam.
  4. Learn by doing. Do practice questions based on old exams, or create and answer your own test questions.
  5. Write practice exams under exam-like conditions (timed and with your books closed).
  6. Study in small chunks of time when possible. Two-hour blocks with a 15-minute break work well for many people.
  7. Study with a group if that works for you, but choose study partners who have the same general level of knowledge of course material and commitment to the course.
  8. Keep a regular schedule. Be sure to eat right, get enough sleep, and take time to exercise.
  9. During the exam, focus on what you do know rather than what you wish you had spent more time studying. Don't forget to breathe!
  10. After the exam is over, follow up. See the instructor or TA to find out how you can improve for next time.