Category Archives: Study Tips

Study Tips: Sabotaging Ourselves Before Tests

Self-sabotage affecting your grades?
Take some advice from Mark Twain.

By Texas State SLAC

Mark Twain

Mark Twain

“I have never let schooling interfere with my education.”
— Mark Twain

Mark Twain teaches a good lesson: Students can get so caught up making good grades that they forget to learn. Also, students sabotage themselves by practicing bad study techniques that further hinder their actually learning. Many of you know things you should and should not do before a test, but this will be a good reminder of good and bad test prep. Continue reading

Study Tips: “Google Map” Essay Tests

Map your way to
successful essay writing

by SLAC

When you read an essay question, do you get a headache? Does your brain go blank? Try comparing taking essay tests to using Google Maps or another map search engine. Principles that achieve good map search results also work for answering essay questions.

1. GET DIRECTIONS
Read the question thoroughly. Details determine the route you take in your explanation.

Search tip: Identify specifics in an essay question so you don’t waste time on false starts and explanations that are loose or dead ends.

 2. ASSESS THE MOST EFFICIENT ROUTE
Make an outline of relevant information to make clear connections, organized by main and subordinate ideas.

Search tip: Link relevant ideas into a navigable whole. If links or chains of reasoning are random or chaotic, your answer could miss the mark.

3. PLAN YOUR ROUTE
Visualize action words to find your lines of arguments:

  • ANALYZE – provide an in-depth exploration of a topic, considering components of ideas and their interrelationships
  • EXPLAIN – clarify, interpret, give reasons for differences of opinion or of results; analyze causes
  • ILLUSTRATE – justify your position or answer a question using concrete examples
  • TRACE – describe the evolution, development or progress of the subject step-by-step, sometimes using chronological order
  • COMPARE/CONTRAST – emphasize similarities and/or differences between two topics; give reasons pro and con
  • PROVE – argue the truth of a statement by giving factual evidence and logical reasoning
  • CRITICIZE – express your judgment about the merit, truth or usefulness of the views or factors mentioned in the question and support your judgment with facts and explanations
  • EVALUATE – appraise, give your viewpoint, cite limitations and advantages, include the opinion of authorities and give evidence to support your position
  • INTERPRET – translate, give examples or comment on a subject, usually including your own viewpoint
  • REVIEW – examine and respond to possible problems or obstacles in your account

Search tip: Use the essay question as your guide to choose the line(s) of argument that allows you to make your strongest, most concise argument. Then, map your answer!

4. PRINT OUT YOUR MAP
If your professor allows, take in an outline or more than one outline of essay questions, but be SURE this is okay before you do this. If you can’t take in an outline, go in with one (or more) in your mind and write it inside of your bluebook or on your paper first thing. This helps when you can’t remember something because of stress. It also helps you stay calm and focused during tests.

You’ve got this, Bobcats! For more great study tips, visit SLAC online.

Keeping Up With Academic Goals

by SLAC

Woman studying in library

Planners are great ways to keep you up-to-date and organized.

September is practically gone, but it’s never too late to remind yourself that school work now is crucial — especially considering extracurricular activities you may have committed to this fall. Make sure to keep up with all of the reading(s) and homework for classes. The longer you put them off, the harder it is to catch up, and the more likely you will become overwhelmed the night before a test or due date. Bad grades at the beginning of a course are very hard to bring up at the end.

Here are three tips to help you keep going:

  1. If you have any large papers or projects, spread the work evenly throughout the rest of the semester. Do not wait until the last minute. If the project or paper seems overwhelming, break it into parts and set deadlines for each.
  1. Refresh your connections to contacts in class. If you get sick and have to miss class, having people to get notes from will help you catch up.
  1. Finally, study groups offer one of the best ways to prepare for tests, whether you are doing well in a class or not. Learning from a peer can be easier than trying to increase your understanding alone. And helping others learn is the best way to retain and understand material yourself!

Whatever your strategies, don’t let other fall obligations lull you into inaction. That way finishing on a positive note won’t seem impossible later!

Study Tips: Fall 2014

Tips for Planning Your Semester

by SLAC

Student studying in library with laptop

A few hours spent in the library each week can do wonders!

There’s so much pressure in getting an education: parents wanting the best for you, employers looking for top-of-the-line students, and you expecting excellence from yourself and success for your future. It’s okay to want to make parents proud, find a good job and be successful, but the grades that allow these things depend to a large extent on how you plan. The following are some tips on planning your semester: Continue reading

Study Tips: Academic Checklist

Setting the tone for the semester

by Texas State SLAC

Photo by CollegeDegrees360 / flickr.com

Photo by CollegeDegrees360 / flickr.com

This is the first full week of school and a good time to set the tone for what lies ahead this semester. Consider this checklist to help you out:

____    I have purchased books and other materials for all my classes.

____    I have attended all classes for the first time and collected a syllabus for each one.

____    I have a daily planner and wall calendar on which to post all events, assignments and their due dates, exams/quizzes, trips and other extracurricular activities.

____    I have allocated time for reading each day during prime hours (8 a.m. to 5 p.m., M-F).

____    I have a study schedule. If I do not have one, I will get someone to help me make one. A good place to start looking for help is at SLAC.

____    I have arranged with my employer to give me the same work schedule each week if at all possible. This will allow me to set my study hours — and not be worried about having to go to work at unexpected times and days.

____    I have shared my study schedule with my roommate so we can coordinate activities around the time we have set aside for studying.

____    I promise myself that I will read to get ahead when I don’t have homework; moreover, I promise myself that I will never go to class having NOT read the assigned reading.

____    I will attend all labs that my courses require.

____    I promise to give myself some time to relax and have fun — and to take care of my physical and mental health. The Student Health Center and Counseling Center are on campus to assist me.

____    I will post this contract with myself where I can see it every day.

Signed: _________________________________

Date:    _________________________________

Study Tips: Reading Comprehension

Succeed In College: Read To Understand

By SLAC

Try not to be overwhelmed by setting a reading schedule, Bobcats!

Try not to be overwhelmed by setting a reading schedule, Bobcats!

Love it or hate it, you have to get familiar with academic reading in college. Your exams may include questions about readings that professors assigned but never discussed in class, so learn to read to understand. The more active your reading, the better your chance for thorough comprehension. Use a structured reading method involving forethoughtperformance, and reflection.

Continue reading

Study Tips: Summer Session 2

Time: Friend or Foe?

by SLAC

It’s 1:30 a.m.: you’re at your desk, a can of Monster precariously perched on the shortest stack of books and articles, with 456 words or 19 more algebra problems to go. Our advice? Go to bed, whether that’s a mattress, bunk or futon, and sleep. At this point, you are falling victim to the commonly held idea that you “work better under pressure.” In the summer, what this really means is only Now or Neverthat you are working under pressure because you no longer have an option to do otherwise. Working too close to deadlines also means not having a chance to problem solve if something goes wrong or if you have last-minute trouble with a concept. Besides, even if you do perform best late at night during the long semesters, summer classes are held every day ― days when you used to be sleeping after pulling an all-nighter.

 

The fact is that time in summer school is unrelenting. Use the self-discipline you dredge up to take care of your body, to make yourself read or study earlier in the day, to start preparing for midterms and finals and to e-mail or talk with your professor about tests and papers ― including the invisible professors in your online courses. Do it now. Check TRACS and Bobcat Mail each day, and sometimes several times a day. In summer school, falling behind in sleep, your studies or your communications is even more destructive than during fall or spring. It’s time to make time your friend.