How to Study Effectively | Webster University

How to Study Effectively

Take Control

Get Organized

  • Create a study plan. Decide what your studying goals are for each semester and each week.
  • Use a calendar. Find a calendar that works for you. Buy a paper calendar, use a calendar app, print out a free calendar, or create one yourself. Try out different calendars until you find one that works for you.
  • Plan to study specific times each week, and schedule all of your activities in your calendar. Your schedule should include time for classes, meals, exercising, studying, socializing, and personal tasks.
  • Keep your schedule balanced. Avoid scheduling several long days of studying in a row.
  • Prioritize your academic tasks. Work on the harder subjects first while you have more energy.

Create Favorable Conditions

  • Choose a quiet place to study where you can concentrate.
  • Make sure you have all of your materials.
  • If you have a smart phone, tablet, or computer for studying, don’t get sidetracked with social media or games.

Generate a Positive Attitude

  • Put yourself in the correct frame of mind by reminding yourself of your strengths and your knowledge base.
  • Ask questions to be an active learner and to generate interest.
  • Make the subject meaningful to you in some way.
  • Reward yourself after each study segment by using breaks, food, walks, music, etc.
  • Gather with a small group of students from the class to study together, if you find group study helpful.

Develop Good Study Techniques

  • Use the SQR3 method for reading non-math textbooks. Survey, Question, Read, Recite and Review.
  • Use the PRESP method for reading math and science texts. Preview, Read, Examples, Summarize and Problems.
  • Use repetition to increase remembering. Review summary sheets and chapters weekly. For intensive memorization, create flash cards and practice often.
  • Create associations, analogies and metaphors to relate new ideas to what you already know and to improve understanding.

Dealing with the 3 Major Study Problems


Procrastination feeds on itself. The trick is to get started quickly. If necessary, fool yourself. Plan to work for just a few minutes, then get back to procrastination. Try thumbing through the chapter to build interest, before really studying, or read the introduction. Generate exam-type questions with classmates. Use a schedule. Work for short periods. Think positive.


Reduce or remove external distractions. Use paper and pencil to transfer internal distractions to a list. Try talking about the subject with yourself. Or try imagining the author or teacher sitting with you. Ask them questions. What is most important? Why? Let the book answer the questions. Study with others or see a tutor.


Plan to work shorter periods. Switch subject matter more often. Try to develop interest by using a pencil and scratch paper to sketch the 3 most important ideas. Vocalize, visualize and symbolize to engage ail of your brain. Study with others or see a tutor. Ask the teacher why the subject is important.

From How to Be a Successful Student, Donald Martin, c 1988., May, 2016

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