University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
College of ACES
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Study Advice and Strategies

My homework is done. Do I need to study?

Yes! See this handout on Maintenance Studying for what to do next.

What successful ACES students advise you to do:

  • Determine how long you can study without a break. This differs for everyone, but breaks are helpful. Get up and walk around, grab a snack or just stretch. But don’t start something that will distract you from returning to studying.
  • What time of day do you have the most energy? This is the time to do your hardest studying.
  • Improve your time management.
  • For big projects or long readings, break the work down into smaller, more-accomplishable blocks. See the Goal Setting PowerPoint from DRES for help.
  • Find a study partner or organize a study group. Meeting with others to study will keep you from changing your plans and not studying even though you meant to.
  • Get rid of distractions. Roommates, phones, TV, friends can all distract you from concentrating.
  • Reward yourself when you get things done as you had planned or have a success, especially the important ones.
  • Reviewing material immediately after a lecture helps to reinforce that material or discover gaps before you have forgotten. At this time you can also add additional comments on important points. This is also a good way to use an hour off between classes.
  • Revisiting material on successive days will help to reinforce it. So rather than studying a topic for three hours in a row, it’s better to spend one hour three days in a row. The Spaced Interval Repetition Technique will demonstrate how to do this.
  • In class, learn to recognize what the instructor thought was important for that day. He or she will probably think that’s also important for an exam. Write notes to yourself in the margins, for example: “He spent a lot of time on this point in lecture,” or "she was really enthusiastic about this process." Pay special attention to summary points at the end of class and points reviewed at the beginning of class from previous lectures - the instructor thinks these are important.
  • Highlight or underline important points when you read. This also forces you to keep paying attention to what you’re reading.
  • If you don’t understand something or what is expected, talk to the TA or instructor.
  • Always turn in high-quality work.
    • Turn in ALL assignments on time.
    • Make sure that everything you turn in is your BEST effort: write, revise, improve, spell-check, and proofread. Don't just do the minimum - go beyond!
    • If you have time on exams, go back over the questions and improve your answers.
    • Take advantage of any extra credit opportunities that are offered.
    • Participate in class discussions or activities. Volunteer answers to questions when you know the answer. And ask questions when you don’t.
    • Keep track of your points in each class. Know exactly where you stand and what you need to do. Understand how the grades are determined and keep track of your grade yourself.

Study Strategies

Study strategies come in dozens of types, but the key is to determine your needs or weaknesses, and use strategies that work for you to strengthen yourself in those areas. Most of these strategies are provided by Disability Resources and Educational Services at Illinois (DRES), and can be useful for all students. Which of the following are difficult for you? Click on each item to see Resources and Strategies for overcoming these common challenges.