Study Skills

Overcoming Internal Obstacles

5 Minute Technique
No matter how much you detest or fear the idea of starting a project, force yourself to calm down, sit down and work for five minutes. You may be surprised at how quickly five minutes passes when your attention is fully devoted to working. At the end of five minutes, see if you can go another five minutes.

‘Around the World’ Technique
If you are intimidated by an assignment you have to do, try doing another easier assignment first. This helps in two ways: by doing a quick and easy assignment, you have calmed down and gotten into the working frame of mind, and you have built some confidence to help get started tackling the more intimidating assignment.

Switch-Over Technique
When you have to study for a subject that you really don’t care for, try studying a subject you’re more fond of. Once you’ve gotten into the studying frame of mind, switch over to the less interesting topic, and you’ll probably study more effectively.

Positive Reinforcement
Sometimes knowing that we’re working to earn something more immediately satisfying than a few homework points can be motivating enough to keep us working. Choose a distractor that appeals to you, and that you can place a limit on and set a reasonable goal for how much work you should get done to earn it.

‘Knitting’ Technique
If you can’t set aside a large enough block of time to do a project: break up what needs to be done into pieces, keep the materials you need (a worksheet, books, calculator, lecture slides, etc.) on your person, and work during breaks, when waiting for class to start, or during meals.

Test Taking Strategies

  • Not just memorization… Have to know significances, relationships and factors.
  • Choose the answer which the test maker intended. Take questions at face value. Don’t assume hidden meanings.
  • Anticipate the answer, and then look for it. Leave a train of thoughts by making small marks.
  • Read carefully. Consider all the alternatives. Look out for qualifiers (generally, usually, probably, most, often, may & sometimes) & absolutes (always, everyone, none, never, least).
  • Relate options to the questions.
  • Balance options against each other. Use process of elimination. It is usually easier to say why an incorrect choice is wrong than why the answer is right.
  • Note whether changing answers helps or hurts you. Don’t reread unnecessary parts of the question or answer. You may need to mark items and return to them later.

Note-taking Strategies

  • Don’t try to take every note word for word
  • Leave 2 in. margin for adding questions to be answered
  • Use modified outline: main points w/ supporting details
  • Use abbreviations
  • Review or rewrite notes the same day as class: add questions, additional information, use questions in margins to test self

When You Have to Cram

  • Accept the fact that you won’t be able to study everything in the amount of time you have.
  • Find out what your instructor tends to base most of the test on (class material, textbook, etc.)
  • Read through your class notes and mark off ideas that are most important.
  • Use any review or study sheets that your instructor has provided as a guide. Your purpose is to try to guess correctly many of the ideas your instructor will put on the test. Important areas include definitions, enumerations, points marked by emphasis words, and answers to basic questions made out of titles and headings.
  • Write the ideas you have selected on sheets of paper, using on side only.
  • Try to end up with no more than 3 or 4 “cram” sheets with important points to study.
  • Prepare catchwords or phrases to recall the material, and then memorize the points using the method or repeated self-testing
  • Go back, if time permits, and review all of your notes and skim headings in the textbook.
  • Now is not the time to learn new concepts, instead try to broaden your understanding as much as possible of the important points you already know.

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