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Study Effectively

Time management

  1. Start using a calendar, planner, or task list at the beginning of the semester.
  2. Write down important dates for exams, assignments and other projects on your calendar.
  3. Make a weekly or monthly schedule to get an overall picture of when you'll be busiest and when you have free time.
  4. Make a task list to keep track of things you need to do on a daily basis.
  5. Although some people like to use lots of tools to manage their time, it's not always necessary. Choose one or two that will help you the most.
  6. Break large tasks into smaller pieces that can be completed within a few hours (or even a few minutes).
  7. If you have large blocks of unstructured time, break your study blocks into shorter times and include breaks. We tend to procrastinate less when we have shorter amounts of time.
  8. Make your health and wellbeing part of your time management plan. Set aside time for exercise, healthy eating, and sleep. 
  9. No one can - or wants to - study all the time! Plan your time to include doing things that you enjoy.
  10. Be patient and flexible. If certain time management strategies don't work for you, try a different strategy.

Listening and notetaking

  1. Even if lectures are recorded and posted online, attend lectures at the scheduled time. That will help you keep up with coursework and stay on track throughout the semester.
  2. Find out how you'll be evaluated on the material from lectures. For example, are the lectures based on material from the textbook, or is the content entirely different?
  3. Before the lecture, do assigned readings or review your previous lecture notes to help you follow the lecture better and take more meaningful notes.
  4. Listen actively by comparing what you hear in the lecture to what you learned in the last lecture, what you read in the textbook, or what you see on the slides.
  5. Concentrate to get the most out of the lectures. Turn off your phone and close other browsers on your computer.
  6. If you're listening to a recorded lecture, take notes while you're playing the lecture so you don't have to go back and replay the lecture again when you're preparing for exams.
  7. If possible, write your lecture notes by hand instead of on your computer. Students tend to recall information better when they write it by hand. 
  8. Organize your notes after the lecture by identifying main topics and key terms, underlining or using different colours for important points, and making diagrams or concept maps to illustrate relationships.
  9. Compare your notes with a study partner's notes on a regular basis in order to fill in missing information and identify what you know and what's unclear.
  10. Review your notes on a weekly basis to prepare in advance for exams.


  1. Find out how you'll be evaluated on your knowledge of the readings. For example, do you need to know the textbook inside out? Or is the text a supplement to the lectures?
  2. Choose the reading strategies and techniques that will help you the most in each course. Skimming, scanning, and in-depth methods can all be good reading strategies, depending on the course.
  3. Break long readings up into shorter, smaller chunks, depending on how long you can concentrate in that subject area. No one can read for hours at a time and remember details well.
  4. Find a quiet, comfortable place to read. Your body associates your bed with sleeping, so it's probably not the best place!
  5. Preview the reading by noting the subtitles and headings, looking at diagrams, and skimming through the introduction and summary.
  6. Reflect on the content as you read and take notes. How is the reading connected to the course lectures? In what way does it connect to the main ideas in the course?
  7. Pay attention to your attention span. Take a quick break if you can't remember what you just read.
  8. Summarize and take notes in your own words to help you understand and retain information. Don't rely on highlighting as your main method of note-taking.
  9. If you tend to read the textbook after a lecture, review your lecture notes before you read, and don't take additional notes on the material already well explained in your lecture notes.
  10. Review the notes from your readings on a regular basis to keep them fresh in your memory.

Exam preparation

  1. Talk to family members or roommates to let them know that you need time and quiet to study. Post a “do not disturb” sign on your door or desk to let others know you’re studying.
  2. Review the course outline to help determine which topics you should focus on when studying.
  3. Look at previous quizzes, assignments, and midterms to pinpoint where you've had difficulty in the course.
  4. Learn by doing. Do practice questions based on old exams or create and answer your own test questions.
  5. Write practice exams under exam-like conditions (timed and with your books closed).
  6. Use variety when studying. In addition to reading notes or slides, write a summary sheet, do some practice test questions, or test your knowledge with cue cards.
  7. Study in small chunks of time to maintain your concentration and energy. 50 minutes of study time with a 10-minute break works well for many people.
  8. Keep a regular schedule. Be sure to eat healthy foods, get enough sleep, get outside every day, and exercise daily.
  9. During the exam, focus on what you do know rather than what you wish you had spent more time studying.
  10. After the exam is over, follow up. Reach out to the instructor or TA to find out how you can improve for next time.

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