Category Archives: Study Tips

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.

During the forethought phase, gather and prepare materials, and form a context for what you read before you read it. This helps you connect your thoughts to prior knowledge and builds retention:

  • Spend 5 to 10 minutes on the chapter title, topic outlines, headings, charts, diagrams and illustrations to create familiarity with content.
  • Read the chapter summary twice; think of what you already know about the topic.
  • Ask yourself what question the chapter is answering.
  • Determine how much energy to put into reading based on earlier study and knowledge.
  • Use the Internet if necessary to create another framework in which to put what you read.

Use the performance phase to actively read:

  • Focus attention by following the text with your index finger, a pen or pencil, and a note card with colored edges to keep you on the correct line.
  • Divide the chapter into parts; use a timer and short breaks to question yourself about the material.
  • Read and then mark or highlight primary points and write notes in the margin.
  • Explain to yourself (aloud) what you understand; hearing yourself increases retention.
  • Use headings to formulate questions in the margins and to prep for exams; ask yourself what the primary ideas are in each section.
  • Reread confusing sections and get help from learning centers and classmates if you need it.

Give yourself a reflection phase to review and understand:

  • Review the day of your first read-through to increase retention, and review each day until the exam.
  • Use chapter review cards, mapping, study guides and test preps to organize thoughts.
  • Explain aloud what you’ve understood to others; teaching leads to understanding.
  • Continue building a context from what you know — and connect the text to your class notes. Write the text’s page numbers beside corresponding in-class notes.

Other types of college texts require different reading strategies. Problem-centered texts require that you read and work problems; selected readings require you to use introductions and notes from class lectures; literature requires you to read after gaining a context for the work from prior knowledge or the Internet; research articles require you to read abstracts before starting; and reference works require you to preview structure, use tabs to mark key points, and note other textual facets.

Watch for two common stumbling blocks: an inadequate college-level vocabulary and poor concentration. Electronic or paper vocabulary cards can help tackle the former, as can learning Greek and Latin roots, prefixes and suffixes. Build your concentration by reading through a chapter in smaller increments in a setting that puts demands on your space and time.

Remember that your primary goal for reading is to understand, not simply memorize. You are building a structure upon which your future depends, so make it sturdy.

Source: Adapted from Sellers, D., Dochen, C., & Hodges, R. (In press). Academic Transformation: the Road to College Success. Boston: Pearson.

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.

Study Tips: Summer Session Survival

The Upside of Summer Session

by SLAC

Check out SLAC for tutoring in a wide variety of subjects.

Check out SLAC for tutoring in a wide variety of subjects.

Ah, summer school! Parking is closer and traffic is lighter. You can turn left without a car bearing down on you or a bicyclist whizzing past. The river and its banks are less crowded. You can park on Town Square! You can walk on campus without dodging skateboards. Classrooms seem bigger. You don’t trip over backpacks as you squeeze between desks, and if professors don’t mind, you can prop up your flip-flops.

There’s only one problem: If you don’t get textbooks and syllabi early so that you can read any material your instructors might have assigned for the first day, you could saunter into a lecture unprepared. When possible, get your first week of reading done before classes even begin. Expect papers each week (or two), tests on Mondays, and homework every night, because you have only four and a half weeks to cover 13–14 weeks of course material.

But intensity has its benefits. You’ll be working with focused students broader in age range and experiences; some will be returning professionals honing skills or redirecting careers. As a result, in-class discussion can be more interesting and study groups can draw from the variety of students’ experiences, so use each other’s strengths. Also, motivated students in small classes can make your professors even more involved and accessible.

Of course, campus study and recreation resources are still available: The Student Learning Assistance Center (SLAC), the Writing Center, Math Lab and many other tutoring labs will be open during the summer sessions. In addition, the Alkek Library, LBJ Student Student Center and Rec Center are not only open, but they probably are far less crowded than during the fall and spring semesters.

Summer school equals work but it’s also a great introduction or a refreshing return to one of college’s best experiences!

 

Around Campus: Summer Resources

Summer school survival tips

by Brittnie Curtis

Summer school has begun and campus is filled with Bobcats again. If you’re one of those students hiking around campus, you might want to know some of the resources available to you this summer.

Summer sessions are a great way to get on the fast track to graduation.

Summer sessions are a great way to get on the fast track to graduation.

Transportation Services - Twitter and Facebook
Bobcat Shuttle. Shuttle hours are different in the summer. The system is in operation during all class days. Monday – Friday service runs between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. for most shuttle routes on class days and during final exams. On the Bobcat Shuttle page, you can find the summer schedule, mapsalternative transportation and much more.

Parking Services - Permit are  available for purchase and are valid until August 15, 2014. Take a look at the parking map before coming to campus to make sure you know where your permit allows you to park. Give Parking Services a call at 512.245.2887 if you have more questions.

Dine On Campus
Summer I meal trades have started and the summer hours for dining halls have been posted. If you don’t have a meal plan yet, don’t worry! All prices can be found online and are fairly easy to purchase. You can also keep up with them on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for tips on diets, food nutrition and healthy living.

Alkek Library - Twitter and Facebook
The library will be filled with students again studying for summer session I. Make sure you know when the library hours are!

Student Health Center - Twitter and Facebook 
Did you know that you can make appointments with the Student Health Center during the summer? Students who graduated in the spring can also still take advantage of the resources the Student Health Center has to offer. On the health center webpage, you can find the hours that they’re open, the clinical services that they provide and vaccination information.

Campus Recreation - Twitter and Facebook
You’d be surprised at the amount of services that Campus Recreation has to offer over the summer. The list seriously goes on and on. One of the main places students might be interested during the summer is the Student Recreation Center, where you’ll find group exercises, the Rock Wall and an indoor pool.

Texas State MobileAndroid and Apple 
A lot of the information in this post can be found at one central location — the Texas State Mobile App! It really is a lifesaver. From bus schedule and library hours, to news updates and your class schedule, the app has it all. It’s a great way to access information quickly and efficiently.

All in all, there’s a lot you need to know going into the summer school sessions. We’ve tried to provide you with quick shortcuts to most of that information. If we’ve missed anything, you can tweet us and we’ll try our best to point you in the right direction.

Have a great summer, Bobcats!

Study Tips: Food for Thought

Good food for studying

by SLAC

Steer clear of the junk food aisle when you're choosing your studying snacks.

Steer clear of the junk food aisle when you’re choosing your studying snacks. [photo by gruntzooki / flickr.com]

Does your all-night studying including all-night snacking? Do you keep your brain and body going by working your way through packages of Oreos, bags of hot Cheetos, Dr. Peppers, Red Bulls, and a thick crust pepperoni pizza . . . one chapter at a time? Do you overeat to cope with the stress of last-minute studying?

Filling up with junk food can actually sabotage your efforts to prepare for final exams. Continue reading

Study Tips: Making the Most of Spring Break

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A relaxing new environment can be a great place to study.

Leave a little room for textbooks in your suitcase

by SLAC

Spring break is here at last. Unfortunately, semesters don’t always end when a college student’s vacation begins. Learning to manage working while enjoying your time off is an essential skill for college life and beyond!

First: Make a plan. Since your brain is still in college mode, take advantage of it. Just as you do in the regular semester, put what you have to get done and related deadlines on a calendar and make a schedule to be sure you study some each day and more on days you aren’t actively involved in extracurricular fun. Making a plan now will prevent stress later and keep you from completely losing the rhythm of academic life.

Tell your family, friends and roommates that you have some work to do over the break. Letting people know in advance that you must do some homework over the break will make it easier for you to get it done. This way you won’t have to deal with others’ disappointment when you can’t do everything they’d planned with them. Also, they’re more likely to help by reminding you of your plans and giving you space and time to stick to them.

Keep up on your sleep and nutrition, and avoid ill people if possible. You don’t want to have to make up for losing a week of classes after coming back from a week off and get that much further from your college work and world.

Use the city library if you need a quiet place. Working at home, or wherever you’re spending break, may be difficult. Don’t forget that city libraries are almost everywhere (including tropical Spring Break getaways). They can be great places to work for a few hours in peace.

Use time waiting in airports, on long car rides or during bad weather days to study. Even intermittent studying will help your retention and processing and make returning to academic life easier. Use earplugs to block noise, or if you feel like you might need a disguise to avoid being forced to converse, wear earbuds and take an iPod and pretend it’s on when studying in a public place.

Just as important as studying regularly and using downtime to work is making back-up copies of your materials. Carrying notes and computers opens the possibility that they may get lost or damaged. Make back-up travel drives, e-mail work, photocopy or scan in notes, and, as always, save your work in at least two places.

Finally, if this is an appropriate time in your academic career to gain real-world experience, consider alternate Spring Break trips that focus on volunteer work for well-known organizations. These may include local entities such as Habitat for Humanity or domestic violence shelters. Some trips could involve living on and working at a camp for the disabled, a Native American reservation, a nature reserve, or going out of the country. Regardless of where you go, volunteer work can broaden your perspective and shape your goals.

Have a great break, Cats!

Sources:

Kelci Lynn Lucier

http://collegelife.about.com/od/academiclife/a/breakhomework.htm

Susan Fitzgerald, MA and J. Lee Peters, EdD

http://www.netplaces.com/college-survival/winter-and-spring-breaks/why-study-during-break.htm

http://www.netplaces.com/college-survival/winter-and-spring-breaks/alternate-spring-break-experiences.htm

http://www.varsitytutors.com/blog/best+study+tips+for+spring+break

 

Study Tips: Channel Your Inner Google Map

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 Map 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.

Study Tips: Getting Back on Track in Spring

Ten helpful tips that guarantee a successful spring semester

by Texas State SLAC

Photo of a student getting tutoring help

1. Reconnect with other students.

Seek out students from the previous semester’s classes, organizations, living arrangements and work. Building upon acquaintances can lead you to form study partners and future friendships. Plus, being socially involved gives balance to a stressful life. And don’t hesitate to talk first to those you recognize on campus. It is easier to speak the first time you see someone than the next.

2. Get in touch with professors you enjoyed. 

E-mail or stop by during their office hours to thank them. Let them know specifically what you liked about their classes. This helps them recall you if they write recommendation letters for you later and makes it more likely that they consider you for research positions, internships or other jobs. Also, having a faculty friend can help negotiate academic bureaucracy!

 3. Buy your books before classes start and begin reading them.

Some classes have reading assignments due the first day. Check each course’s TRACS site to see if yours do. Order any books that aren’t available yet. Then find copies of them in the library, and keep up with your reading there. This helps prevent your being overwhelmed by readings you haven’t done yet as tests, projects and papers are given.

4. Make a good first impression.

Getting your books ahead of time and doing any pre-semester homework will also make a good impression on your professors and classmates. If you come in without assigned homework on the first day, you won’t impress anyone. Others naturally take a student who comes prepared from the start more seriously.

 5. Manage your academic time by creating two calendars: one with short- and one with long-term assignments.

Once you get syllabi from your professors, record weekly and semester assignments. Get one wall calendar with all 12 months on it so that you can keep long-term assignments, due dates, registration information, organizational commitments and other important dates in front of you. After this, use a monthly planner and assign each piece of homework to a certain day each week. This will help you visualize and anticipate your workload and plan ahead for weeks when you are balancing weekly assignments with term projects. Also utilize electronic calendars, such as the free Gmail calendar feature. This allows you to color code events by class, amongst other things — another helpful way to picture what you need to do.

6. Make a weekly schedule.

On this put all of your class, work, study times, organizational commitments, meal times, and even breaks. Sticking to this schedule as closely as possible can help bring stability into your life. The “SLAC Daily Schedule” under the Student Learning Assistance Center’s (SLAC) drop-down menu at http://www.txstate.edu/slac/subject-area/study-skills/time-management.html can help you do this.

7. Get your finances in order.

This will not only ensure that you have enough money to finish the semester, but also it will lighten stress as the semester becomes increasingly difficult.

8. Find out where to go for help — now.

In case you need tutoring, physical, or mental health assistance later, find out where those services are on campus. Look at the academic services offered at SLAC by visiting our website at http://www.txstate.edu/slac/. Then, check out SLAC’s list of other campus academic services at http://www.txstate.edu/slac/othersupport.html. On Texas State’s homepage, look under the drop-down menu for Current Students at http://www.txstate.edu/ for information about other services, including medical, financial, and recreational. Finally, look at http://www.counseling.txstate.edu/ for information on obtaining counseling should you need it.

9. Locate healthy outlets for fun and relief from stress.

Joining a student organization related to your interests can help, as can visiting the campus recreational facilities. Look again under Current Students on Texas State’s home page and on other drop-down menus there for hints about where to find these things and what’s new to do at Texas State. Venture off campus, too, to see movies, eat out and find activities that take you beyond the world encompassed by the university!

10. Set goals and make commitments.

Doing this makes you far more likely to achieve what you came to college to learn to do in the first place! Remember to make your goals SMART: specific, measurable, realistic, and time-oriented (with concrete deadlines, some short-, others long-term).

And have a great spring semester!

 

Study Tips: Preparing for Finals

Heading for finals: Don’t hit the wall. Climb over it!

by Texas State SLAC

Does this sound like you or someone you know? During exams, do you:

  • go blank
  • become frustrated
  • start thinking “I can’t do this” or “I’m stupid”
  • feel your heart racing or find it difficult to breathe
  • know the answers — after turning in a test
  • score much lower than on homework or papers
Final exams don't need to be a stressful experience. Photo:  timswinson.com

Final exams don’t need to be a stressful experience. Photo: timswinson.com

Many students find their anxiety level heightens toward the semester’s end. Pressures causing this can come from many sources and vary according to your performance in each of your classes. Continue reading

Study Tips: Preparing for Thanksgiving

Even after you sleep off the tryptophan, your homework will still be waiting for you. Plan now so you can wake up without worry!

Tryptophan-induced naps won’t make your homework disappear. Plan now so you can wake up without worry!

Holiday helper: Plan now for a relaxing Thanksgiving break

by Texas State SLAC

The days are getting shorter but your to-do list is getting longer. You might be tempted to put your class work off until after Thanksgiving because you don’t want to be doing homework while family and friends are visiting, eating turkey, then sleeping off the tryptophan! But by putting off your studies, you could find yourself neck deep in homework — and facing lowered motivation because the semester is almost over. Not to mention that you’ll have finals to study for (sorry, we had to bring that up!). Here is a better course of action. Continue reading