With a new semester fast approaching, many students on the Virginia International University campus are gearing up for another fun year and becoming excited for the courses that will engage their minds over the next semester. What many students fail to remember are the hours of studying that will take place when midterms and finals roll around. As students make the transition from high school graduates, college graduates, and employees to being back in school and facing the high demand on time that higher education inherently requires, we wanted to highlight some study habits that might work for everyone. I had the opportunity to sit down with John Bennett, VIU’s Director of Library Services and Associate to the VP of University Affairs to pick his brain on the topic. He has a few tips to making the most of your study time by finding out what routine works best for you!

Mr. Bennett stresses that we learn some of the best study techniques in our K-12 education system.  Time management, outlining plans & projects, and reviewing course material are among these techniques. Bennett also expanded upon these techniques and gave some pointers for higher education study habits:

  • “Learn to Identify what you know and what you do not know: Try to trace your learning to determine what you know and where specifically you are getting into trouble with understanding course material. Breaking concepts down line-by-line to see where the trouble is rooted can be a big help
  • Don’t fool yourself into thinking you are a great multi-tasker: Studying while watching television, eating, talking to (or texting) friends may seem like a good idea, and some people may even claim that it actually helps study efforts. However, multi-taskers are not studying effectively–a lot can be said for devoting exclusive time and quiet focus to your studies. The library is still a great place to crack open a book. Try it. See what happens!
  • Read with a Pen in Hand: Students often believe that highlighting is a major help on identifying key concepts, and in many cases actually can be. However, a pen can prove to be the superior study tool. You can underline or circle words, take notes in the margins or on other sheets of paper as you are reading.  This can really help students not only learn information, but have a much better shot at retention.
  • Pre-read, re-read, and post-read!: Don’t assume that all you need to do is pick up a text and read it through once from start to finish. Difficult texts often require pre-reading, multiple reading, and post-reading activities. Skim the text first and create a list of questions you will try to answer.  Then, read the text multiple times and in different ways: focus on vocab, acquire a general meaning, etc.  After reading two to three times, try to write a paragraph to summarize key concepts in your own words.  This will be an invaluable study tool.
  • Become an Excellent Note Taker: Come to each class with a notebook & pen, use a fresh page, and commit to taking careful lecture notes.  Note-taking can be challenging when the class is very good or very bad; students who are enjoying class can forget to take notes while those who are bored will tune out the lecture. However-do not try to write down every word you hear! Focusing on key points and reflecting on the notes after class will help flesh out the notes and create better study tools for students.
  • Work with a Calendar: Students enrolled in multiple classes must manage assignments from multiple professors will will be competing for your limited time.  The key to juggling the demands is to anticipate bottlenecks in your schedule and head them off.  At the beginning of the semester you should review all of the due dates and exam dates and place them on your calendar. This will help with time management and keep you from pulling all-nighters to handle a busy schedule! “
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