Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase via my link I may get a small commission at no additional cost to you. I only recommend things I use and love, but for any questions, refer to my full disclosure here.
Wanna know how 4.0 students study? This post shares study tips for college by a 4.0 student including tips and advice!
This post is going over some of the best tips for taking notes, studying, and taking exams, whether online or in-person.
Let’s get started!
Want a FREE Exam Prep Checklist?
I created a free online exam checklist for you to print out and check off the items as you prepare for your exams in college:
Let’s get started with Study Tips for College
1. Create a Study Schedule
Having a study schedule is key to staying organized and getting those good grades! You know, having good grades doesn’t just come from being smart or studying all day; being productive and managing time efficiently is a big part of it!
- Map out your classes in your planner
- Create a timetable with your classes (whether online or in-person)
- Also schedule study blocks (this is called block scheduling and you can find some good examples on Pinterest!)
- Stick to your schedule and study when you put it down
2. Create a Study Guide for every exam
This might differ from class to class, but if your professor has put a study guide together that is great!
But whether there is one prepared for you or not, ALWAYS go through your notes and the key elements that are highlighted in the textbook.
- Grab your notes, your textbook, any previous quizzes from the class, and if you have one, a study guide from your professor
- Have a notebook or document on your laptop to write your study guide in
- Write down everything that your professor has mentioned is important, topics that came up a lot in previous tests, and key concepts from the textbook.
- Re-writing the most important parts of your notes (or other study material) can also help you memorizing it and learning the information better.
- Make sure your study guide is organized and you can find sections/concepts easy when looking for them!
3. Make an Exam Schedule
Making a study plan for exam season is one of the most effective study tips for college!
A study plan includes your exam schedule, as well as what time you are going to study for what class.
If you are preparing for one class only, then your plan should also include what topic your study session will be covering. You can also do this for multiple exams.
- Figure out when your exams are and write the times down!
- Know what you need to study for the exam
- Estimate the time you need to study for a class
- Create a calendar where you add what time you will be studying what
- In the end, you should have a few days before the exam to review everything, so cover individual topics before then!
I hope these steps help to give you some action steps to start your study schedule!
Related: Online Exam Tips for College
4. Ask Questions
Professors are there to help you! Use that to your advantage and ask questions about topics you are unsure about, as well as ask for what the exam is going to cover.
Make sure you mention your name and what class/section you are in when emailing your professor so you don’t get wrong information because they didn’t know what class you were in!
- Email professor to ask about ___
5. Familiarize yourself with the class before it starts
One of the most important (and often forgotten) study tips for college is to familiarize yourself with the class.
Some classes involve more independent study, writing papers, doing group work, making projects, etc.
To be prepared for your class, read your syllabus when you get it, however, wait with ordering textbooks until class starts and you get to know your professor. Often, they say if you really need it or not.
- Read the syllabus
- Note any important due dates in your planner
- Ask your professor if anything is unclear
Related: The Ultimate Guide to Online Classes
6. No distractions!
This goes for during class, taking online exams, as well as your scheduled study sessions.
Mute your phone, organize your workspace, and have water ready. Ideally, you shouldn’t be starving but also not super full when you study or take an exam.
- Mute phone when studying and taking an exam
- Organize desk
- Have supplies ready
7. Make a Cheat Sheet for every topic
This isn’t for cheating during an exam, but it can be very helpful to study from. I create summary pages of separate topics every time after closing it, so I can easily refer to anything without having to look through my entire notebook.
Have an exam in the afternoon? You can read over this cheat sheet whenever you ask yourself an exam question in your head or think about a concept you forgot something about.
A cheat sheet only includes concepts that are most important, as well as what you’re struggling to memorize.
In the case of an open note exam, make sure to have your notes organized and prepared! You don’t want to spend 10 minutes just looking for where you wrote something. Having organized notes is key!
- Write down key concepts
- Write down anything you need to memorize better
- Organize your notes if you have an open note exam
Related: 5 Study Tips from a 4.0 Student
8. Prepare Water and Snacks
Whether you’re heading to the library for a long study session or have an online exam, having water and some snacks ready can be very helpful.
I can recommend any protein or cereal bars, some fruit like an apple or banana, or even a cookie or two.
Don’t prepare full meals because you won’t have time for that, but make sure to have something at hand if you do need some brain food.
- Fill up your water bottle / get a glass of water
- Have a protein bar/apple ready if allowed
- Do not eat a full meal right before and do not start exam hungry
9. Use Office Hours and Tutors
Take advantage of office hours from your professor, available tutors, or study groups!
If you study online, those resources are still available to you! Many universities have online tutor sessions and you can arrange zoom calls with classmates. Take advantage of this!
- Go to (virtual) office hours to ask questions
- Join a tutoring session or make an online appointment with a tutor
- Make a study group and explain concepts to each other
10. Start Projects early
It is ALWAYS a good idea to start projects early, even if it’s just deciding your topic, making an outline, or creating a schedule for when you do start it.
11. Also schedule breaks
Keeping a consistent schedule is key to finding a good routine with your schoolwork, but you should balance it with breaks, fun stuff, and some time with friends, even if that is currently facetime.
12. Try different study locations
Sometimes, all you need to get focused is a different location. Sit on your porch, go to the kitchen, maybe even on the floor. Just avoid your bed!
Try it out!
13. Take Advantage of Online Textbooks
Now, because of this special situation, many websites are offering free ebook versions of textbooks! So if you don’t have your textbooks with you or had to send them back early to Amazon, this is the perfect option!
This is the site that has some of my textbooks, but you can also go to your university’s bookstore and they probably have a link to online textbooks as well.
14. Use Grammarly to Check Essays
To check my grammar and spelling in essays, I always upload it to Grammarly, which checks it for me!
Sometimes when I write all day, it get’s hard to spot mistakes, which is why I almost always use it to double check everything.
Here is a link to Grammarly for free.
15. Work on your Goals
Remember those resolutions you set at the beginning of this year? Yeah? Let’s work on them!
Why not try a little bit harder on that paper to get that A you wanted!
This applies to other parts of your life too, obviously. It’s not just all about school, so if one of your goals this year was to learn a new language or a new instrument, this is the time!
Want a FREE Exam Prep Checklist?
I created a free online exam checklist for you to print out and check off the items as you prepare for your exam.
I hope these study tips for college helped! Comment YOUR best study tip below!
Kimberly Price says
Thank you for the details. I’ve never been good at breaking down a study schedule…and I’m a 57 yo sophomore. It’s intimidating, to say the least.
I can only imagine, so glad my tips helped you! Great job with your studying and all the best to you!