How to study effectively – in college

How to study effectively

I am going to show you how to study effectively.

We all know college can be overwhelming and extremely fast-paced. If you don’t know how to study effectively, you can easily fall behind, or even worse, receive a bad grade. But I have found that simply changing up a few of your study methods can turn that around and leave you feeling satisfied with your grades, while not feeling overwhelmed.

Implementing my methods of how to study effectively just requires consistency, time, and your brain. These are the methods I use to get an A on my exams.

Switch up methods depending on the class

How to study

Every semester, you should be changing up your study method to make sure that you are optimizing your studying for each class or teacher. Each class is different, and you may find that the ways you used to study are no longer working effectively anymore. This just means you need to switch it up.

This could simply mean, taking notes on your computer in a class that is more fast pace, reading the textbook for more details, creating note cards, using Quizlet, working problems, or watching youtube videos for more information. Figure out whatever it is that is missing and try to find a way that consistently gets you that information in your head. After that, you’ve found your method for how to study effectively and just keep using that method for the class.

Time management

Time management

In college, we often have more than one class to study for and if we are not using our time wisely, some classes end up getting put on the back burner. This in turn leaves many college students feeling overwhelmed and discouraged by the amount of work we have to tackle.

Before beginning a study session for the day, take a moment to set time limits for each subject. For example, if you have 5 classes to work on, set aside 1-3 hours per class depending on the estimated workload time.

Once that time limit has been exceeded, give yourself maybe 10 minutes to finish up what you were working on, then move on to the next subject. Move on no matter what, you can always circle back around to it at the end of the session.

Sometimes setting a timer for 25 minutes is enough to keep you from losing track of time. After that, take a 5-minute break to rest your eyes. I recommend not getting on your phone for this break because it can leave you wanting more of your phone and get you unmotivated to finish. This timing method is called the Pomodoro technique.

I also find that to study effectively you should wake up early to study before class. It really helps if you are feeling like there isn’t enough time in the day. It sounds annoying, I know, but it is worth it in the end.

It is always crucial to be studying before the exam if you can.

Start studying in advanced

How I study

I recommend to never start studying a day before the test, not even 2 days before. To get the best grades, always start studying for an exam a week in advance.

But to be studying effectively, studying should start when homework and readings are given out. Readings and homework go hand and hand, and they are very important for the understanding of information. 

When study week comes, you will already have done the hard part and will only need to make sure you have everything down.

Start a weekly planner

If you are someone who easily gets overwhelmed with all the work you need to finish or loses track of exams, I recommend getting a planner and writing down all exam dates for the semester. You may think you can just wait till the teacher announces it, but in college, they don’t announce much. Next thing you know, boom, exam creeps right up.

A planner can also be used to write in your study sessions for the whole week. Always plan ahead even if you have a lot written down for one day. Try to get as much done as possible. It is okay not to finish everything but always finish high priority first.

Prioritize the most important stuff

How to study effectively

If you have homework that is due tomorrow, and a test that is in 3 days, always prioritize the homework because is due the soonest. This should work out because you should have already been studying for the test for the past week.

If there are 2 exams coming up, but the easier exam is a day before the hard exam, prioritize studying for the hardest exam.

So I always say, prioritize soonest and hardest work first to study effectively.

Study in detail


Depending on which class it is, studying in detail can mean different things. If your class is math-related, this means working on as many problems as possible.

I recommend looking up the solutions to a problem to make sure you have a good understanding of the steps. Then try to rework it at a later time on your own.

Make sure that you try to work on a problem on your own for at least 5-10 minutes before looking up the answers if you are stuck.

Always spend a lot of time looking over PowerPoint provided by the teacher, as it may provide essential example problems and information that may have the most similarity to the test problems. These problems will also be good practice.

If a book is provided, reading it will usually give you details that the teacher did not provide, giving you a better understanding of the subject.

Once you feel like you could teach someone the subject, you are ready for the test.

Take practice quizzes

How to study effectively in college

It is common that textbooks will provide a practice quiz section at the beginning or end of a chapter. These can be helpful to look over before learning the information. Then look up the answers to the quiz. It can help prepare you to learn the information and it will stick in your mind better.

Then after learning the chapter, go back to the quiz again and see how much more you have learned.

If there is no quiz in the book, get on Quizlet, a study tool for students, and type in the title of your book and the chapter.

I hope that you find some of these study methods useful this year to help you learn how to study effectively. These are the very methods I use every day to stay on top of things and get good grades. Let me know if there is anything else I can help with.

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