A Good Student's 3-Step Guide to Studying

Although studying may seem like madness, there is a method to it. Here's one student's broken down in three steps.

As warmer weather approaches, there’s nothing like being shut inside with a textbook to herald impending exams. The flurry of flashcards and barraging begs for extra credit is the stuff nightmares are made of! Although studying may be madness, there is a method to it. Here’s mine:

1. Your page-staring needs repairing

Let this be abundantly clear: if your study method includes staring at a page, it needs to be revamped. No amount of time spent looking into the soul of the word “antimetabole” will help you differentiate it from “anthimeria” on a test. In order to effectively encode information into your memory, you need to interact with the material. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to do this both electronically and by hand. Draw a chart, create flashcards with pictures, make acronyms, compose a song, hear the information spoken to you, or pretend you are giving a speech about the information and recite as much as you can from memory. It doesn’t really matter how you absorb the information as long as you are effortfully processing it.

2. Ma’s good old-fashioned recitation

As much as you don’t want to hear this next bit of advice, it really is a lifesaver. For subjects ranging from foreign languages to math to orchestra, repeated practice or rehearsal of information is a great way to nail down difficult or abstract topics. Cognitive psychologists have found that it is much easier to retain information repeated over a long period of time than information that is “brain dumped” in a short period of time (aka cramming). So, while rote memorization is often frowned upon as shallow learning, it is a good method to practice when trying to secure technicalities like spellings, vocabulary meanings, and even musical numbers. Be selective about the types of information you leave to be purely memorized, and try to break down larger topics into manageable pieces. Additionally, if you can, give yourself plenty of time to slowly commit individual pieces to memory.

3. Life-saving resources for the 11th (or 12th) hour

Oh, high school student, why do you still assume that you can teach yourself the entire pre-calculus curriculum in one evening? As much as the real world would retract their sympathy in a hot a2 + b2 = cminute, we masters of the late night know what it’s like to feel wholly unprepared the night before an exam. That’s why we’ve put together a quick last-resort list of resources that can help you absorb a lot of information in a very, very short amount of time. The first, and perhaps best, is Quizlet. By eliminating the need for pens and note cards and cutting work time in half, Quizlet’s online flashcard system is not only very simple to operate, but allows you to auto-define terms and upload pictures. Whether you generate your own flashcard set or search a bank of pre-existing ones, you can then choose to study the information in different modes like speller, matching, or fill-in-the-blank. The site even generates a test for you out of the information you’ve inputted.

Writing a conclusion here would only be wasting your precious study time, so I’ll be concise: good luck!

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now


About Molly Weisner

Molly is a high school senior who loves all things French and Shakespeare. After four years of writing for her school paper, she has cultivated a passion for journalism that she is excited to expand to the collegiate and professional level. Besides writing, Molly enjoys babysitting, helping at her mother's art studio, and finding new, increasingly eclectic coffee shops in her hometown. She loves being surrounded by fellow bright students and can't wait to share her experience with the CollegeXpress community.


Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress


High School Class of 2021

For a long time, I've been searching everywhere to find the perfect website I can get scholarships and information from. Needless to say, I could never find the right one. That was, until I found CollegeXpress. Through my journey of finding the right scholarships for me, I was able to find articles about different things. They've all been helpful, especially in times like this! I was even able to connect with some of my favorite colleges! I love CollegeXpress. Thank you!

Bri'Yana Brown-Dunn

Bri'Yana Brown-Dunn

High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress helped me gain interest in many colleges/universities and many scholarships. I would say the most helpful thing CollegeXpress has done for me is sending me emails that tell me certain types of colleges are interested in me as well as emails about scholarships that I can look at and possibly apply for.

Heather McCarty

Heather McCarty

High School Class of 2020

CollegeXpress has helped me with the college application process. The tips and tricks for important essays were so helpful. I also gained useful knowledge about college life. Even though I’m fully online, CollegeXpress has helped me develop a sense of how college is in person. The experiences from college students that were featured on their Instagram page have shown the good, the bad, and the “secret” life on campus from a reliable perspective. Not to mention, they relieved my feelings of anxiety about the workload. I can now understand how it can be stressful, but it takes self-control and willpower to get assignments completed on time and with quality.

Alexandra Adriano

Alexandra Adriano

$2,000 Community Service Scholarship Winner, 2016

I've used CollegeXpress quite a bit as a senior, particularly for colleges and scholarships, so it's been a very big asset in that respect! I would recommend it to anyone looking to pursue a college education, especially seniors! This scholarship will help me achieve my goals in ways I couldn't have before, and I know that there are opportunities like that for everyone on the website and in the magazines!

Caitlin Eaton

Caitlin Eaton

$10,000 Scholarship Winner, 2021

I first discovered CollegeXpress during my sophomore year of high school while researching colleges that interested me. My SAT prep class the following year further familiarized me with the opportunities available through the organization. CX has personally helped me by exposing me to a diverse selection of schools as well as scholarships and life tips that have provided valuable guidance in my college search.

This scholarship will help me adjust to college life without worrying as much about tuition. This gives me more room to truly explore and benefit from all aspects of higher education. I plan to study Conservation Biology and work protecting species/ecosystems. I’m looking forward to getting field experience and seeing firsthand the problems research is solving.

College Matches

Colleges You May Be Interested In

Colorado State University

Fort Collins, CO

Ohio University

Athens, OH

SUNY Morrisville

Morrisville, NY

DePaul University

Chicago, IL