Study Skills

Knowing how to study effectively for college classes revolves around active learning. How you study outside of class time is key to success. The responsibility for learning course content rests on your shoulders. 

Earning good grades depends on the quality of the study skills you use. Like learning a sport or a hobby, the more you practice the better you perform. Learning involves memorization but centers around your ability to apply concepts. Our toolbox of active learning skills are based on how our brains process and learn. 

Below are just a few of the resources associated with the corresponding study skill. To learn more, visit CFAR!

Your brain is like a muscle

Embracing a growth mindset is a game-changer in college!  The more you practice and are able to overcome obstacles, the stronger your brain becomes allowing you to take on bigger and more complicated challenges.  A great way to strengthen and create new neural pathways is by giving these study strategies a try!

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The Study Cycle

Learning new course material takes time and practice. Use short, frequent, and focused study sessions throughout the week rather than studying only before an exam. Use this approach and be amazed how much you learn and how well prepared you are for your exams!


When taking a problem solving course, students often feel like they are spending too much time doing their homework. This is because it’s important to not only do practice problems, but to understand the underlying concepts and how equations fit together. If you understand the lecture/book material before approaching homework, this will save you time and you will experience fewer roadblocks.

The Syllabus

The syllabus is the roadmap of how to succeed in a course.  It outlines professor's expectations and what they want you to take away from the course and recommends how to best learn in a course.


Canvas contains course content (assignments, readings, PPT presentations, and grades) and  is where your faculty post announcements. Check it daily! Canvas organization varies from faculty to faculty.

Notes & Notetaking

To study for your exam, you need good notes. Class is your time with the professor who is the expert and who creates your exams. Notetaking involves going to class, shutting off social media, giving the class your full attention, and taking detailed notes to use with the PowerPoint slides (if available). Using the study cycle is the best way to learn the information in class and with your notes after class. 

Question Generating

Creating test questions in your notes increases your understanding of your course material and prepares you for your exams.

Concept Mapping

Concept Maps visually represent information and relationships between concepts. Create maps as a way to review the information presented in class and as a study tool prior to exams.

Information Mapping

Information Maps organize material in a visual format so you can study the similarities and difference between concepts. They are a great exam preparation tool – you are learning the information as you create the maps.

Reading Strategies

Textbook and other required reading can feel overwhelming. Yet, reading provides an organized explanation of the concepts covered in class. Additionally, most textbooks come with online resources like practice exams, videos, flashcards to help you learn the content. Knowing how to best read and utilize the built in tools are important skills. 


Marking your books while you read helps you to learn the information and maintain focus and concentration. Your book markings also provide a valuable review tool when it comes exam time.