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10 Top Study Tips for Busy Adult LearnersTop 10 Study Tips for Busy Adult Learners

1. Don't just study from your textbook.
Along with your assigned textbook and notes from your professor's lectures, use the textbook’s Web site for supplementary notes and material to help you ace your exams. Textbook publishers often have companion Web sites that provide support, study notes and related references for the subject. For example, Prentice Hall offers companion Web sites for many of their textbooks. Other textbook companion websites are offered by Palgrave/Mcmillan, Houghton Mifflin, and Brooks Cole.

It is also helpful to look up the title of the textbook and the author. You will find course notes, study guides, and references from other classes who are using the textbook, and the author might have a personal Web site. Many sites offer textbook chapter summaries, quizzes, and more. A lot of free informationand study material is available on the Internet, as well as in your college library.

2. Try to spend a little time studying each day, then schedule a weekly review.
Pulling an all night cram session before a test in the hopes of understanding and retaining the information doesn't work and is very stressful, not to mention the loss of sleep. Break down your study time by studying a little each day. Schedule a review of your courses each week, and sit down and review your notes and reading. This will pay off when exam time arrives, and the information will stay with you (in your long term memory). Cramming and other such studying techniques often work if you are relying on short term memory. You will later forget much of the material and all that studying will be for naught. Use sensible study techniques to achieve the full benefit of your degree.

3. Attend class prepared, and take good notes.
Try not to miss a class, or get behind in your assignments. If you get too far behind, it can be difficult to catch up, and using another's notes won't be as good as having your own. Use a method of notetaking that makes sense for you. If you have questions after the lecture, ask the professor during office hours. To prepare for every class, read the assigned chapter beforehand and note any questions. It is helpful to use the SQ3R Reading and Study Skill System, taught at many colleges and universities for help in studying college textbooks. There are alo many tried and true methods for notetaking. Find one that is the most helpful for you.

After class, review anything you didn't understand, look up answers to any quizzes, and tackle the book's study guide. (See Making the Grade and Four Keys to Key Points of College Lectures.) For five popular notetaking systems, review some successful methods from CalPoly. The most important practice for effective notetaking is reviewing and editing your notes. This strategy is recommended by academic skills centers and other authorities on successful study habits, and is integral to increasing learning potential. Review and edit your notes as soon as possible after classes, and you will experience significant rewards when exam time rolls around!

4. When you get an assignment or need to write a paper, don't set it aside. Begin assignments or term papers right away to allow for time to research, revise, and perfect your work. There is a big difference between a paper hastily written the night before and one artfully composed throughout the week. You will also have time to get feedback from others and make changes.

5. Use mneumonics and other tools to remember key information.
Summarize your notes, highlight important points, and identify key terminology. (See Memorize with Mneumonics and Reduce Exam Anxiety.)

6. Test yourself before the exam.
Create a sample test of questions you think will be on the course exam, take it, and then go back and concentrate on your weak areas. If you find you can't seem to remember certain material, write it, recite it, or think of associations which will help you remember during the test. Many students use flash cards and carry them with them to review.

7. Widen your learning horizons.
Consider joining a study group, getting tutoring, or dropping by the professor's office for additional one on one assistance. If you have the time, ask if there are any extra credit assignments.

8. Polish your writing and communication skills.
They are foundational for your college and professional success. Get a writing handbook, style guide, and a good college dictionary or take some college remedial writing courses early on in your curriculum. Get these early on and don't skimp. It pays to invest in these resources as they will be instrumental and referred to often in your studies.

9. Use a semester/quarter planner to see at a glance what assignments are due throughout the term. Avoid last minute cramming and paper writing. Remember, last minute cramming only retains knowledge in your short term (not long term) memory, and you never do your best work on a paper when you don't have time to review it. See tips on test taking and research paper/essay writing in the Academics section.

10. Always take time to relax and maintain balance in your life. By going to college you are beginning an exciting and extremely rewarding journey. Reflect on the fact that the best part of an education is not the destination but the journey itself. Don't let unnecessary stress bring you (and your GPA) down. Take time to prioritize that which is most important to you, and balance work, family, and relaxation to avoid stress and academic burn-out, as well as maximize your learning potential. Have fun!

See also Academics.

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