21 Tips to Improve Study Performance

21 Tips and Tricks to Improve Study Performance

  1. Don’t skip classes or be late 1
  2. Do all homework, always on time 1
    • It reinforces
    • Do it to the point of full comprehension
  3. Review lecture immediately after class, even if just for 5 minutes 1
    • This helps encode information into long-term memory
  4. Review past materials throughout the term 2
    • Work out examples in your own words
    • Rewrite key definitions and ideas
    • Make connections between concepts
    • Do practice problems - if none were assigned, find some!
    • Opposite of cramming 1
  5. Prepare for Class 1
    • Read ahead a little, to familiarize yourself
  6. Sit in the ‘T’ of class (the middle column and front row of desks) 1
    • Fewer distractions up front
    • Helps build an important connection with your professor/teacher
  7. Start Homework THE DAY it is assigned 1
    • Helps encode information into long-term memory
    • Allows you come prepared to the next class meeting with questions
  8. Learn from your graded classwork 3
    • Problems done incorrectly must be fully understood
    • They will be on the final
  9. Mix-up study content 1
    • If you get stuck, switch to a different subject/assignment
    • Your brain keeps working on the problem subconsciously
    • Can give you a fresh perspective when you return
  10. Make your goal to learn, not get grades 1
    • Focus on asking yourself questions as you do problems 2
      • Why are you applying a particular line of reasoning?
      • What other similar problems have you done?
      • How does this particular problem fit into the overarching objectives of the course?
  11. Adapt your note taking strategies for each class 3
    • For example, if the professor is using 4-5 different colors on the whiteboard, you should be too! Buy some colored pens or highlighters.
    • If the professor lectures off power points, you can print them out before class and take notes ON them during class.
    • For classes that draw lots of tables/diagrams/pictures, graph paper really comes in handy.
    • If the professor is going faster than you can take notes, Read ahead and take your own notes - leave room to add notes from the lecture
    • Explore different methods, figure out what works best for each class
  12. Be able to explain the material to somebody else 2
    • Take turns with a classmate explaining your work to one another
    • If you can thoroughly explain a problem to someone else, then there is a good chance you actually understand what is going on.
    • Trying to explain a hard problem you are stuck on to somebody else, even if that person is not in your class, helps your brain come up with the solution 3
  13. Be Inquisitive 2
    • Ask questions of yourself, your classmates, and your professor, in that order
    • Not just questions like "Is this going to be on the exam?" But questions like "what would happen if...?"
    • Answering questions yourself is best because you know your mind better than anyone else and can make the appropriate connections to your current body of knowledge.
  14. Prioritize your time 1
    • Do the most important assignments first
    • If there is a tie, do the hardest / least fun homework assignment first
    • Save the small/easy stuff for after
    • Pareto 80/20 Rule: Most people spend 80% of their time on little tasks and 20% of their time on major tasks
  15. Identify your time blocks and schedule them: 1
    • Assign your longer, most important tasks to your biggest time blocks
    • Assign short tasks to small time blocks
      • Try and knock things off your to-do list any chance you get
      • Keep a book or some homework on you in case you come across extra time
  16. Eliminate all distractions 1
    • Have courage to protect your priorities
    • Multi-tasking is the ENEMY!
    • Ask yourself, “What is the most effective use of my time right now?”
    • Keep study area clear of clutter or anything else that can draw your attention away
    • Learn to say “No”
      • Saying “yes” to one thing, is saying “no” to another
      • Don’t let the desire to win approval or acceptance of others get in the way of what is really important.
  17. Identify and exploit your ‘Quality’ time (the time when are at your best performance) 1
    • Example: if you’re a ‘morning person’, plan to do your most important work in the mornings.
    • During this time – stay completely off your phone and all social media
    • Focus on the task at hand
  18. Set goals 3
    • Every day, go to bed knowing what your goals are for the next day
    • Hold yourself accountable for reaching those goals
  19. Don’t feel like you can’t work, simply because it’s the weekend 1
  20. Have a balanced lifestyle 1
    • Know the value of diet, exercise, alone time, spiritual time, family time, down time, and social time in seeking a balanced life.
  21. Give yourself enough sleep 1
    • Recommended at least 7-8 hours/night
    • Effects of sleep deprivation: 4
      • Lower stress threshold, impaired memory, trouble concentrating, decreased optimism and sociability, impaired creativity and innovation
      • Long term sleep deprivation can cause high blood pressure, heart attack, heart failure, stroke and obesity


1 Gary R. Martin, Ph. D
Assistant Dean in the School of Engineering and Computer Science, University of the Pacific.
Source: Lecture notes taken in Dr. Martin’s ENGR 010 Course, Dean’s Seminar, Fall 2012.

2 John Mayberry, Ph. D
Assistant Professor in the Mathematics Department at University of the Pacific.
Source: Email Interview

3 James P., AS
Undergraduate at University of Pacific
Source: Personal experience

4 Christy Matta, MA
Trainer, consultant and writer


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