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Study Habits for College Students: All the Pro Tips You’ll Ever Need

19 minute read

These study habits for college students can be found in lots of place online, and they’re all organized here for easy access. Consider this your insider’s library for winning at school.

Or maybe just the r/getstudying subreddit after too much Red Bull. Either way, we’re cheering for you this semester. Now let’s get that A!

Here’s a PDF guide to these articles.

Use the table of contents below to navigate:

Homework:

17 Free Homework Help Websites
5 Helpful Tips For Taking Notes
12 Simple Study Tips that Will Boost Your Results
How to Destroy Homework Procrastination Using YouTube
How To (Quickly) Find Credible Sources For Your Research Paper
How to Succeed in School: Five Easy Learning Tips
Study with Me: Study Tubers to Inspire Your Next A

Test Prep:

Exam Preparation: What Are the Best Test Prep Tips?
How to Study for the ACT: 8 Popular Study Habits to Avoid
A Smart Way To Take A Test
Test Preparation Pointers For The Stressed Out Student

Growth and Development:

Best Time Management Tips for College Students
Common Misconceptions Studying Abroad
Effective Study Tips: Teddy Roosevelt’s Guide to Academic Productivity
Four Ways To Stay Motivated And Finish The School Year Strong
How to Avoid Procrastination in College: Helpful Advice for Students
How To Use Procrastination To Your Advantage
A Non-Stressful Way To Choose A Career Path

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A Smart Way To Take A Test

Easy Questions First

Now that you know what your test looks like, it’s time to knock out the easy questions! Go through the test from beginning to end and take care of any questions you can answer correctly in one or two minutes.

Set Up Anything You’re Unsure About

Tricky questions take time. Use it wisely. Go back to the beginning and start doing some of the harder questions. If you’re taking a multiple-choice test, take the time to quickly jot down short definitions or explanations. If you’re solving equations, write out the first couple of steps you’d take to solve them. Then leave it alone and move to the next tricky problem.

Dive Deep, But Come Up For Air

Tackle those questions that give you the most difficulty. Give each of them your undivided attention. Take the time to think and make sure you’re on the right track. Once in a while, though, look up from your test and look at something else. Focus on something else for about 20 to 30 seconds.

One Last Look

When you’ve finished, take a minute or two to review your test and make sure you’ve answered everything to the best of your ability. Then:

  1. Get up
  2. Turn that thing in…
  3. and forget about it.

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Test Preparation Pointers For The Stressed Out Student

Know EXACTLY What You’re Studying

To build good study habits, be fully aware of what will be on the test. Know exactly which book chapters and concepts you will be tested on. You don’t want ANY surprises.

Go Over Your Notes

Review and organize your class notes as soon as the test is announced. Immediately. Your notes should at least give you basic knowledge of the subject you’re being tested on and can help you cut down on study time.

Speak Now!

A lot of students think good study habits for college students means going it alone. They don’t like talking to their professors either because they’re embarrassed, or they’re scared of them, or they don’t want to reveal that they haven’t been paying attention in class. Here the thing:

Your professor WROTE the test, and if you ask nicely, they’ll probably tell you EXACTLY what’s on it.

Take Action!

Everyone has their own way of studying. If you’re a visual learner, consider using a whiteboard or a piece of paper to write out concepts where you can see them (this works wonders for math and science courses). If you learn best by listening, maybe read your notes aloud, record them and listen to them as you go through the day (or you and a friend could record each other’s notes if you don’t like the sound of your own voice).

Take Care

STOP. DOING. ALL. NIGHT. CRAM. SESSIONS. Be nice to yourself for a change. Give yourself enough time to review and GO. TO. BED. Eat breakfast and bring snacks for the day ahead. Better to get help than wear yourself out cramming.

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A Non-Stressful Way To Choose A Career Path

Learn About Yourself

Lots of people find their career paths in their personal hobbies. The things we love to do are often related to what we become later in life.

Meet Your Heroes (And Talk To Them)

Most people were in the same boat as you when they were younger. Talk to everyone, introduce yourself to people you don’t know, and let them know what you’re interested in. A wise man once said: “It’s not about who you know, it’s about who knows you.”

Get Involved

They say you can’t get a job without experience, and you can’t get experience without a job. Once you figure out what you like to do, and you’ve met a few people who can point you in the right direction, it’s time to get to work! Apply for internships in your desired field, ask a professional if you can observe them at work for a day or two, volunteer, or start working on your own projects and post them online!

Study habits for college students studygate
Success = Setting clear goals for yourself and going in relentless pursuit no matter what.

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How To Use Procrastination To Your Advantage

Realize What You’re Doing

It’s okay to admit to yourself that procrastination is happening! Recognize your own behavior and understand what you normally do and how you feel when you’re about to procrastinate. Just because these aren’t good study habits for college students doesn’t mean the end of the world.

Baby Steps

Break down your task into smaller, more manageable parts that you can complete in an hour or less. By doing so, you put less stress on yourself, and you allow yourself to do great work and demonstrate great study habits for college students!

Hold Yourself Accountable

Netflix is tempting. Everything you’ve ever watched or will ever want to watch, all in one place. Don’t fall for it. When you set a goal, ask a friend to check in on you and make sure you actually got it done!

Reward Yourself!

When you reach a new milestone, celebrate! You’re doing great! Enjoy your favorite snack, take a short break with friends, go for a run or walk, or—yes, go ahead and watch an episode of your favorite show. Now that’s a great study habit with a nice reward!

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5 Helpful Tips For Taking Notes

Listen, Listen, Listen

When your chemistry teacher is giving you a clear definition for a word or concept, write it down. When he’s going on and on and ON about that science museum he visited last weekend, maybe you should skip it. Decide for yourself what your notes should include.

Less Is More

Good notes should not be a word-for-word transcript of what happened in class. That strategy won’t build good study habits for college students. Instead, think of note-taking as a way for you to teach yourself new things. Try writing down key words, using headings and bullet points, writing things in your own words, and making your own codes, shorthand, and quick ways of writing things down.

Eat, Sleep, and Breathe It, Rehearse and Reread It

This is probably one of the easiest ways to study. Reread your notes when you get the chance. The best time to do this is directly after class. Take a separate sheet of paper and copy your notes—only this time, fill in any information you remember from the lecture.

Keep Them Organized

Keep your notes in a binder, and organize them in order of when you wrote them.

Have Fun With It

Use the margins of your paper to draw or write down things that come to mind. The goal is to let those thoughts come, recognize them, and then let them go so you can stay focused.

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How to Succeed in School: Five Easy Learning Tips

Busy is lazy. It means you aren’t thinking through your behavior.

Act with thoughtfulness as you choose tasks to engage with. In this way, you will never grow bored. You’ll also have more time for play as time is more easy to manage.

Apply your learning. Because anything less is foolish.

If you let your learning make you smart and stop there, you are a fool. If you let your learning drive you to action, you will get rich. People value other people who take action. Learning should always have a purpose.

Make your yes really count. Don’t use it for the small things.

There are going to be things in school that are considered required. Math class will be one of them. However, most schools have tremendous extracurricular opportunities. The fact is that there are too many for any one person to take on. So make a polite refusal of “no” be your first instinct. And save your “yes” for the things that you really care about.

Strong views, loosely held. Speak confidently, but stay open to reason.

When working in team projects, take the time to think through your position and your work. Then defend the points you believe with a lot of passion and clearly developed thoughts. But if someone disagrees with you, make a point of listening to them. If their logic is better, you should be open to changing your mind.

Ignore the noise. Your biggest heroes are still imperfect.

Life can be bigger than you ever dreamed once you realize that everything around you was created by someone who isn’t any smarter than you are. Don’t worry about what anyone says. Own your future and make some waves.

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How to Destroy Homework Procrastination Using YouTube

Study With Me Study Tuber #1

Anxious about finding some study buddies, Heleen from Brussels posted in May 2015 about creating a place for people to connect and learn together. She wanted to build good study habits for college students, but most importantly she wanted to help herself.

Since Heleen posted the first ever study with me video on June 1st, 2015, thousands of students have joined the movement to create their own videos. Millions of students are following these channels across YouTube.

Study with Me

At Studygate, students are creating micro Study With Me sessions with their classmates. Too often, you know what you need to do but just can’t take the first step. Study with me sessions builds good study habits for college students and gives you a place to feel connected with your classmates.

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Study with Me: Study Tubers to Inspire your Next A

Why Study with Me?

There are some great reasons to watch these YouTube videos:

  1. Friendship with tons of comments from likeminded students
  2. Community of people committed to learning with you to the next A
  3. Single screen to focus on instead of distracted browsing everywhere

The following are some of the hippest students on the planet with excellent skills at promoting good study habits for college students, presented in no particular order. Each offer their own flavor and personality to compliment your study session.

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Exam Preparation: What Are the Best Test Prep Tips?

Test Prep Tip 1: Plan, Don’t Cram

Create a study guide template to fill over the course of the unit or semester, or make flashcards with important vocabulary words. Writing down or typing what you need to know is a great tool to help you remember key ideas, and when you do it over a longer period of time, you have more opportunities to ask questions if you don’t understand something.

Test Prep Tip 2: Get Together with Friends

Planning a study group with your classmates is a great way to go over material in a relaxed and low-pressure setting. Friends can help to quiz you on important points and help you fill in the blanks for any concepts you may not have been too clear on. Or you can just study with them in peace and quiet. All of these are great study habits for college students.

Study With Your Friends Now

Test Prep Tip 3: Rest, Relax, Rehydrate

By the time the night before a test rolls around, you should only need to briefly look over your notes for five or ten minutes. Anything more is likely to stress you out instead of helping you. Instead, make sure you relax and get plenty of sleep the night before. Remind yourself that you’ve studied hard and done all you can to prepare.

Study habits for college students studygate
If you’re ready for the exam, you can take time to hike for fun too. Wooooooooooooooooooo!

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Common Misconceptions Studying Abroad

Safe Spaces Theory

In September 2015, Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt released their groundbreaking essay “The Coddling of the American Mind.” The authors describe a safe space as a location where “young adults are shielded from words and ideas that make some uncomfortable.” But safe spaces don’t make good study habits for college students.

We can’t get better without some discomfort.

Safe Spaces Abroad

But I don’t see safe spaces happening in other parts of the world, at least not in Europe. Learning moves in the spirit of Quincy Jones.

You’re supposed to use everything from the past. If you know where you come from, it’s easier to get where you’re going.

How to Thrive When Living Abroad

  1. Acknowledge everyone you meet. From the grocery cashier to your neighbors and classmates. You will need friends, and you will have only one chance to make a first impression. Make it positive by smiling and speaking their language even if you aren’t fluent yet.
  2. Be a chameleon. Chances are you will stick out like a sore thumb, so figure out how other people dress and adapt accordingly. Live like your surroundings and embrace the extraordinary exposure to the unsafe space.
  3. Use learning services to stay grounded in the details of your learning and embrace good study habits for college students regardless of location. You can easily find a tutor to learn with and stay accountable in your local commitments.

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Four Ways To Stay Motivated And Finish The School Year Strong

Organize and Prioritize

If there was ever a time to stay organized, this is it. With so much going on in school and at home, it’s important to keep every date, every obligation, and every meeting straight in your head.

Be Mindful

Study habits for college students start with taking time to slow down and understand what you’re working on. Ask for help if you can’t meet a deadline, focus on delivering quality work, and above all, set aside some time to take care of your health.

Get Some Perspective

The tests you take during this important season can improve or hurt your chances of ending up with that A you’ve been working so hard for, or the high SAT or AP score that will take you to the college of your dreams. It’s a crucial moment! But that’s all it is. A single moment in the vast timeline that is your life.

Remember Your Goals

What did you set out to achieve? Make those goals more visible in your everyday life. Write them on post-it notes and stick it in your notebook, on your refrigerator, on your bathroom mirror, EVERYWHERE. With summer around the corner, it’s very easy to get distracted with all the fun things going on, but that doesn’t give you an excuse to stop short of the finish line.

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We know you’re ready for a break, buckle down just a little longer and you’ll make it!

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How To (Quickly) Find Credible Sources For Your Research Paper

Step One: Take A Position!

For the best study habits for college students, you’ve got to know what you want to say in your paper. Take some time to read the assignment, understand the expectations, and develop an opinion on the subject.

Step Two: Find A…Book? At The…Library?

You can find the most credible sources of knowledge in actual books! Imagine that! Decide what your answer is, then take an hour or two to look for a few library books about your subject. Look through them and pay special attention to certain sections that can help support your main point.

Step Three: Find Some Journals

Next, you’ll want to search for some academic journals. Some of the best academic journal databases are EBSCOHost, JSTOR, and Google Scholar, but there are so many others, so experiment and find out which one you like best. Using your library login info as much as possible will be a great study habit since your college or university will have a subscription to most paid databases.

Step Four: Yeah Alright, Now You Can Run To The Internet

At this point, you couldn’t get more specific if you tried. Now, it’s all about proving your point. Look for quality sources on the internet. You’ll be looking for quick statistics, helpful numbers, and short quotes that you can sprinkle into your paper.

Step Five: Trim The Fat

Now start cutting the stuff you don’t need. If you don’t know how to cite, you can visit the OWL Purdue website to brush up on all the different styles.

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Best Time Management Tips for College Students

Time Management Tip 1: Prioritize

As a college student, your number one priority should always be your academics since college is not free. Good study habits for college students start with taking time to complete your homework fully as soon as you get it and writing out notes gradually as the semester goes on.

Time Management Tip 2: Remember That You’re not a Robot

You’re not a machine wired to churn out study guides for hours a day without rest; you have to give yourself room to develop every side of you. You’ll often find that you’ll learn as much as you do from the library from getting outside of your comfort zone and growing as a person.

Time Management Tip 3: Forgive Yourself

If you’ve studied for hours every night this week, get some extra Z’s and sleep on Saturday morning. If soccer practice has worn your body out this season, take a day or two off to be lazy and eat some junk food. There’s an exception to every rule, so don’t beat yourself up for straying from the path once in a blue moon. Resting and relaxation can be the best study habits for college students. 

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Effective Study Tips: Teddy Roosevelt’s Guide to Academic Productivity

Study on a fixed-time schedule.

His personal diaries and letters show that he would block out time during each day for certain intellectual tasks.

Work only on high-priority tasks.

Do not obsess about next week’s term paper when the algebra test is tomorrow morning. Recognize that some priorities must be realized first. Others can wait.

Focus on one task at hand.

Because you are working within the parameters of a fragmented time schedule, it is imperative that you focus all of your effort and energy on your work. Give it all of your mental energy now, and remain in the moment through the duration of this time period.

Set a specific goal, or solve a problem.

Determine a goal, whether this is solving a problem, writing a certain number of words, or reading a number of chapters. Setting a specific short-term goal will motivate you and allow for a sense of accomplishment.

Create a deadline for “Roosevelt Dashes”

The idea is to exert your mental faculties to the max in short intervals. This will help you get the best study habits for college students. Set a timer where you can see it and push yourself to finish your established task within that time frame. This will take some practice. Stick with a set time period to accomplish your goal and meter yourself to the minute.

Read with a Purpose

Roosevelt read five books a week during his term in the White House. He did this by training his mind to identify the important aspects of the literature instead of getting bogged down in words and details.

Take Time for Personal Growth

Realize that you are not a robot. We all live full and busy lives. We need time for friends and loved ones. Countless obligations will compete for your attention. Yet it is important to set aside time to nourish your soul.

Diversify your Interests

Roosevelt entered Harvard wanting to become an “outdoor naturalist and observer of nature.” His career turned to the business of politics. He had a curious mind and treated everything he did with utmost enthusiasm and passion.

Make Learning a Life Habit

Cultivate a passion for learning and work to constantly expand your mind. Great study habits for college students start with recognizing the big picture is more than a collection of short-term tasks. Maintain a love for intellectual growth and personal development. This will serve to carry you through the inevitable minor frustrations that arise along the way.

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How to Study for the ACT: 8 Popular Study Habits to Avoid

Study Habits to Avoid #1: Pulling an All-nighter/Cramming

Let’s start with the obvious. Sleep deprivation, no matter your age or circumstance, is never a good thing. Instead, take some time to review your notes, and then put them aside well before you go to bed. Relax and get a good night’s sleep.

Study Habits to Avoid #2: Studying with friends.

Unless you’re in a completely structured and disciplined peer group that is working together toward a common goal, like the completion of a project, studying for exams with friends isn’t a good idea. Distractions will happen, and you’ll lose time and productivity.

Study Habits to Avoid #3: Listening to music

Listening to your playlists or other favorite music, especially loudly, is counter-productive. In order to maximize your efficiency, study in a quiet environment.

Study Habits to Avoid #4: Looking at the answers to the sample questions first

Reading the answers before you attempt the question does you no favors. Instead, read the question first and attempt to answer it, THEN read the answer.

Study Habits to Avoid #5: Over-caffeinating prior to the exam

Ingesting too much caffeine can make you jittery, unfocused, and can lead to a major crash in your energy well before you’re finished with the exam.

Study Habits to Avoid #6: Re-writing All of Your Notes

Some people believe that typing or writing out all of their study notes will help their recall. Not true. Once you’ve been through the practice exams, make index card notes on any questions that you really get stuck on, with the questions on one side, and the answers on the other.

Study Habits to Avoid #7: Multi-tasking

It’s not just listening to music that can distract from your studying. Unless you are one of a very small percentage of the world’s population (i.e., 2%), you are not a good multi-tasker. So put down the phone, shut down your browser and turn off the TV.

Study Habits to Avoid #8: Studying for long periods of time

Studying for the ACT takes up a lot of energy, so trying to study for long blocks with no breaks can actually be detrimental. Focused studying for shorter periods of time, and taking periodic breaks to focus on something else, can help you maintain a consistent level of focus and energy.

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When possible, we recommend dabbing during your study break.

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How to Avoid Procrastination in College: Helpful Study Habits for College Students

  • When you have a task with a deadline, look at the deadline and work backwards to create a schedule.
  • If you can work in a group, do so. Establish accountability for each member of the group and make sure they know their responsibilities.
  • Contact your professor/supervisor for clarification or with any other questions early in the process.
  • Create a schedule that you need to adhere to.
  • Break the big project down into small tasks.
  • Don’t think “I can’t”, think “How can I?”

The best study habits for college students are not always easy to maintain. So if procrastination got the best of your schedule, StudyGate can help with that.

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