Category Archives: Study Tips

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

Study Tips: Mastering Multiple Choice

There are techniques you can learn to help you through multiple-choice exams. (photo by albertogp123 / flickr.com)

There are techniques you can use to help you through multiple-choice exams.
(photo by albertogp123 / flickr.com)

Test-taking skills can improve your
success rate

By Texas State SLAC

Have you ever gotten a multiple-choice exam back and heard yourself say, “Why did I mark that answer?” or “Now that I’ve read the question again, the correct answer is obvious!” If those words sound familiar, you might want to rethink your approach to multiple choice exams. Of course, studying to master the content being tested is your best strategy, but here’s a step-by-step process to insure that your test-taking skills are at their best when multiple choice questions get tricky. Continue reading

Study Tips: Do’s and Don’ts for Test Success

How to prevent
self-sabotaging behavior

By Texas State SLAC

Keep calm and study on!

Last-minute studying can cause panic. Photo by digitalcole / flickr.com

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

Mark Twain teaches a good lesson: Students can get so caught up in making good grades that they forget to learn. Also, students can sabotage their success by using bad study techniques that further hinder their actual learning. Many of you know what you should and should not do before a test, but these tips will be good reminders. 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 made 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 made arrangements 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 have promised 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: Summer School Survival Strategies

Time: Friend or Foe?

By Texas State SLAC

Pulling all-nighters is a risky strategy for summer sessions.

Pulling all-nighters is a risky strategy for summer sessions. Photo by Sheng Han/flickr.com

It’s 1:50 in the morning. You’re at your desk, with a huge can of Monster precariously perched on a stack of books and articles. Only 456 more words to write or 19 more algebra problems to go. Our advice? Go to bed ― your mattress, bunk, futon or pull-out couch ― and sleep. You are falling victim to the commonly held idea that you work better under pressure.

Even if you do perform best late at night during the long semesters, this strategy isn’t a good one for the summer semester. Summer classes are held every day ― and on those days when you used to be sleeping after pulling an all-nighter, you’re now supposed to be in class. In the summer semester, if you procrastinate and get into the habit of working under pressure, soon you won’t have any options to do otherwise.

Summer school is intense. It is unrelenting and unforgiving. Don’t fall behind! There’ll be no time to catch up. And working too close to deadlines means not having a chance to problem solve if something goes wrong or you have last-minute trouble with a concept.

Dredge up some self-discipline to take care of your body, to make yourself read or study early in the day, to start preparing for midterms and finals, to e-mail or talk with your professor ― including the invisible professors in your online courses ― about tests and papers. Do it now.

Check TRACS and Bobcat Mail several times each day. In summer school, falling behind in sleep, your studies, or your communication is even more destructive than it is during fall or spring. Summertime is the best time to make time your friend.