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Do’s and don’ts for successful studying

Early in the first semester of college, many students discover that they don’t actually know how to study effectively. This can be frustrating, particularly if the students have already botched a quiz or exam.

College girl studying

Fortunately, it’s never too late for students to hone their study skills. In their book College Success Guide, Second Edition, authors Patricia Weiss and Dr. Karine Blackett share the following do’s and don’ts for successful studying.


  • Do get your textbooks in advance.
  • Do make sure you know how to access materials that are online. Whether you are on-campus or online, it’s to your benefit to get a head start.
  • Do use skimming, scanning and other reading strategies. Doing so pays off in time savings and better grades every time.
  • Do take time to work on your learning skills. Making the transition from teacher-centered learning — in which the focus is on the teacher — to learner-centered learning — focusing on the learner — is important. In other words, how you learn, your particular learning style, is essential to your success. Make sure to discover your learning style and use it to your advantage.
  • Do get the best computer hardware and software, especially if you are an online student. If you don’t, you will probably have a long and tough road ahead of you. It is better to spend a few extra dollars than to be sorry. Having a laptop is recommended.
  • Do have a reliable and high-speed — if available — or other broadband internet service, a time-saving feature that pays for itself day after day.


  • Don’t start class without having all the books, technology and other materials you need to be successful.
  • Don’t underestimate your ability to learn. Tools will help you finish the job successfully.
  • Don’t use absolutes of “can’t,” won’t” or “never.” You can and will if you simply try. Repeat this statement often: “I can do this.”

In the College Success Guide, Weiss and Blackett explain that a key to effective studying and academic success is using the right tools. They write, “Having the materials and technology you need, knowing how to read and take notes effectively and learning strategies for studying are all recognized as extremely important by successful students and teachers alike. There really is no excuse for any student to do anything but succeed in an on-campus or online environment with this information. Becoming a successful student just takes a little elbow grease, and we guarantee it will pay off.”

For additional guidance on how to improve their study skills, students should turn to their professors. Often, professors welcome the opportunity to point students in the right direction.

More studying tips

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6 Studying tips for tests
The best times and places to study

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