Featured Image

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.

Related: So You Think You Can Study?

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

exams finals how to study study advice study tips studying tests

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
Dani York

Dani York

High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress helped in my journey by comparing multiple colleges for my final decision. While looking at different colleges, I was able to compare the tuition expenses and that landed me with the college that I’m currently enrolled in, Western Kentucky University. Thank you!

Fernando Ponce

Fernando Ponce

High School Junior

College is a way of life that helps us find out who we are as a person, and CollegeXpress is a great way to stay connected with our future, even for students with little time on their hands due to the challenges of high school we face.

Cameron Lee

Cameron Lee

High School Class of 2022

I used CollegeXpress to search for colleges. It helped me narrow down the schools on the West Coast and which schools had Construction Engineering programs. I made my decision to go to OSU and I am so excited about it.

Jessica Rinker

Jessica Rinker

Student, Fairhaven High School; CollegeXpress Student Writer

My high school counselor introduced me to CollegeXpress freshman year. It has made such a difference in high school, and I plan to continue relying on it in college. CollegeXpress is my go-to because it addresses each aspect of being a student. There are the articles you’d expect regarding college applications and financial aid, but you will also find advice on things like de-stressing and maintaining relationships while balancing a heavy course load. CollegeXpress will also keep you updated on current scholarships through e-mails each Saturday. (They don’t harass you with any product promotion like so many other sites do.) CollegeXpress is a lot like an older sibling who has already conquered the challenges you are facing. Now, they are reaching out a helpful hand. I say take it.

Lorena Bacallao

Lorena Bacallao

High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress was the foundation of my college search process. Because of CollegeXpress, I was able to make a more informed and confident decision as to where it was best to pursue my higher education. I have recommended this website to fellow peers and for first-generation students like me. It’s a website I will continue to promote because of how simple it was to use and how many opportunities were offered to me at my fingertips!

College Matches