Finals Week Study Tips

Study Tips from Live On 

Textbook Reading

· Set yourself up for successful reading:

  • Choose a high-energy time to read
  • Don’t pick a chair (or your bed) if it’s too comfortable!

· Always use techniques to preview a chapter before you actually begin reading:

  • Read the chapter title and section titles
  • Read the introduction (or first paragraphs) and summary (last paragraphs)
  • Read the captions of all the graphics (maps, charts, illustrations)
  • Read the bold-faced terms
  • Read the objectives and/or review questions
    • Use handouts from the instructor in place of textbook learning objectives and review questions
  • Purchase study guides/course packs

Re-read a section until you understand what you are reading, even try reading out loud.

 After reading a paragraph or section, stop and play JEOPARDY!

  • What is important here?
  • What is a possible test question?
  • Write questions in the textbook margins and underline the answer

Read captions, footnotes, graphs, maps, etc in textbooks. These make good quiz and exam questions

Finish reading a section of text before highlighting (15%-25% of a page only!)

Don’t assume that what is highlighted has been learned. To learn and remember information you must organize it, express it in your own words and test yourself ORALLY periodically

Note-taking from your text provides a truer test to your understanding of the material than merely highlighting

Use Post-Its or tabs to mark important info

Use note cards to record important points from the text. THEN REVIEW THEM!

Skim over assigned pages, reading the introduction, topic headings, summary and any review questions, in order to have a general picture of what you are to look for in the material, and what it is all about. Organize the material in your head. Read for a purpose.

Read and make an outline of the main points, and/or highlight the main points in the book. Grasp the principles that underlie the details. Relate what you read to previous learning, and to your own life and culture. At test time you can relearn in 5 or 10 minutes the main points that it took you 1 or 2 hours to read originally.

Review from memory, without the outline, restating in your own words the main ideas and key facts, then learn those you missed.

Utilize the study aids at the end of the assignment. Answer the review questions and solve any problems. Study with a dictionary, learning any new words. Prepare to take part in the next class's discussion. Jot down any questions you may have, and clarify them by bringing them up in class.

Start at least a week, or preferably two, before exams begin. Don't attempt to study 24 hours a day; your efficiency and capacity to retain material will rapidly decrease.

Getting the Most Out of Your Study Time

  • Use daylight hours to study. Use breaks between classes.
  • Plan a time to study immediately before a recitation-type class
  • Plan a time to study immediately after a lecture class.
  • Studying and then sleeping at night is more efficient than setting your alarm clock to get up early to study because during sleep your brain is engaging in organizational processing.
  • Take breaks during study time to enhance retention
  • Every time you begin to study, spend 10 minutes in a review of previous assignments/readings— Learning is cumulative and you must make use of previous learning to enhance new learning by continuously making associations and connections.
  • Study difficult (or boring) subjects first while you are fresh
  • Use waiting time to flip through flashcards or to review lecture notes
  • Try to stay on a reasonably regular schedule of reviewing, eating, sleeping and relaxing.

Lecture Notetaking

  • Always read the material over which an instructor will be lecturing BEFORE the lecture
  • Take notes in ink on one side of the paper
  • Date your notes
  • Use loose-leaf notebook paper and a three-ring binder
    • Use the “BIG I” (sometimes called Cornell Method) note taking format:
    • Draw a line down the center of each page
    • Record main ideas to the left of the center line
    • Record supporting details to the right of the center line
  • Make up your own shorthand system, using symbols and abbreviations
  • Ask questions if you don’t understand the material. If you don’t “get it” in class, you won’t “get it” when you review your notes.
  • Write a summary of the day’s lecture within 24 hours
    • Record the main points and what you need to remember, writing in complete sentences OR summarize by making a chart, flashcards, map, timeline, etc

Review your lecture notes DAILY—right before class and the next lecture is a good time. Seeing material over and over helps make it part of your long-term memory

Studying Math

  • In math courses, you MUST work out problems on the homework on your own. Understanding what the instructor does in class is not the same as being able to solve the problem yourself.
  • Even if they are not assigned, work the problems that have answers in the back of the book.
  • Do math homework immediately after class before what you just learned gets “cold”
  • Schedule a math course at a time when you can be mentally sharp.


  • If you have difficulty concentrating, try to determine the cause, and then work out a solution.
  • If distracting thoughts such as an e-mail you should write, an errand to run, an upcoming event, or an embarrassing incident that happened to you earlier come to your mind just write each thought or problem down. This clears your mind for present study but will still remind you to do or think about those things later.
  • Limit distracting external noises (TV, others talking, etc.).
  • Study alone or with others who are quietly working.
  • Try to pick one place and only work there (rather than eating, talking or socializing in that spot).
  • Perhaps your interest or motivation is low. Make a list of reasons for learning, getting good grades, and being a success, as well as a list of the undesirable consequences for not studying.
  • Don't force yourself to study beyond your normal limits of concentration. If you find yourself able to concentrate for only ten or twenty minutes, study for only that period of time and then take a short break. Your concentration should return. In fact, short and regular study periods are more productive than lengthy single sessions.

Writing Papers

  • Organize and outline what you want to say before beginning to write. State the purpose of your paper, expand and explain your theme, and finally conclude, restating your main points. Write ahead of the due date so that you have ample time to check and correct it before handing it in.



  • Review the material frequently throughout the course, and less work will be required at exam time. Always review at least the main points of the lecture and reading notes before a test. Recite the main points and key facts aloud without looking at your notes. Check on your memorization after about 30 minutes to determine if you have really retained it.
  • Ask yourself what the professor thinks is important or might ask. Pretend you are the professor and have to explain the essential ideas to the class.



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