TORCH TIP of the Week: Study Smartly!

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I hated studying all throughout high school & college. I’m not the kind of person that can retain the information I learned in August for the finals in December, which is why it’s crucial for me to study. This is probably the case for many students.

Studying is essential to learning and in order for you to pass your classes, you need to learn and understand the material. When you study you should go into it with a positive mindset because it will help you study smarter and may even engage your interest in a particular topic. Studying doesn’t have to be something stressful or something you’re forced to do. When you study smartly, you can cut down on the cramming, the all nighters and the distractions.

Below I have put together a few tips that I know will be helpful to you and you may even adopt as your study habits.

1. Learn Your Studying Style. TORCH Intern, Alejandrina Riggins, a graduate student at Columbia University, advises that the most useful thing you can do to study is know what your studying style is. You should experiment with different ways of studying and see which is more effective for you. You may even find that different styles of studying are effective for different classes. For example, you might use index cards for your French course, or make up a song to memorize the different types of rocks for Earth Science.

2. Don’t Procrastinate! Procrastination will be the reason why you’re stuck pulling all nighters and cramming for tests. You need to beware of procrastination because it can creep up on you in many ways. According to the University at Buffalo’s Student Affairs: Procrastination masquerades in a million disguises. Among the more common of these are:

  • “One more day won’t make any difference; I’ll just put that off until tomorrow.”
  • “I can’t start on this paper until I know just how I want the first paragraph to read.”
  • “I work best under pressure.”
  • “I’ll watch just 15 more minutes of TV.”

Keep in mind that if you do your work ahead of time you won’t even have the option of procrastinating.

3. Learn and Understand, Don’t Just Memorize. When you learn and understand the course material it is easier for you to study and retain information for tests. Keep in mind that most times your course work is cumulative which means you won’t be able to understand one thing without knowing the other.

4. Learn and Study Actively! Studying actively is a good way for you to learn and understand the work.

  • During class make sure you pay attention and answer and ask questions.
  • Make sure you review and keep up with your syllabus so that you can keep a schedule of your course work and you know when things are due.
  • Take notes that you can clearly understand. Keep in mind that while taking notes during your reading, highlighting is much more effective than underlining.
  • While working in a group make sure you engage yourself, even if you’re not to fond of your group members. Engaging yourself is a big part of your learning experience.
  • When studying for a language course its helpful for you to practice that language constantly. For example: watching and discussing movies in that particular language.

5. Review Your Work. Reviewing your work regularly throughout the semester is the key to understanding and learning the material. Read your textbook and review your notes prior to the class so that you know what’s going on while the professor is teaching. After class and in between classes review your previous and new notes so that they stay fresh in your mind.

6. No Distractions Allowed. Don’t get too comfortable when studying because this can increase the chances of you dozing off or not fully engaging yourself. Try to study in a place where you can completely focus on your work. This means staying away from a location where there maybe a bed or television. While studying, stay away from going on social networking sites and using your phone, unless its an emergency.

7. Study the Hardest Material First. Believe it or not, its better to study the material you find the most difficult first. The most difficult assignments are the ones that require the most efforts. If you start on those first you’ll have time to actually learn the material. Then you can review what you already know.

8. Stay Healthy and Reward Yourself! Making sure you eat healthy, getting enough sleep and exercising all enhance the way your brain works and how much information you retain and understand. When you study make sure you take breaks in between so you can give your brain time to process the information and retain it. Finally, reward yourself! After studying and understanding the material and/or passing the test treat yourself to some new shoes or a new video game. Ok, maybe not every time, but you should definitely reward yourself, even if its just by catching up on your favorite shows.

Take these tips into consideration before you begin studying! If you have other tips on smart studying post them below!

Sources:,, University at Buffalo Student Affairs


2 thoughts on “TORCH TIP of the Week: Study Smartly!

    Tasha Brown said:
    January 28, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    Yes! I really needed this blog, because we all now I have the WORST study habits in the world! Sadly its starting to not work out for me here in grad school!! I need to make some major changes. Its harder than it sounds to change ur study habits though….i’m working on it!

    Great Post!

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Torch Intern, The TORCH Program. The TORCH Program said: Check out our TORCH Tip of the Week:"Study Smartly" on the TORCH Alumni Blog -> […]

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