Are You Studying Wrong?

Aug. 16, 2016

Four ways to up your study game from an expert at the SALT Center.

Who hasn’t pulled a late-night cram session? The problem is that the the all-nighter isn’t really all that effective. Study smarter this semester with these tips from Laurel Grigg Mason, associate director of the University of Arizona’s Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques (SALT) Center, which provides support for students with learning and attention challenges.

Don’t wait until the day before a big exam to study. There will always be something more fun to do than buckle down in the library. But resist giving into the FOMO — the sooner you get in the habit of devoting time to studying, the better, Grigg Mason says. “Most students, especially early on, don't devote enough time to their studies. The best techniques cannot overcome the challenge of trying to learn too much information in a short amount of time.”

Go beyond basic memorization. What may have worked in high school won’t necessarily be effective for passing finals at UA. “College-level exams and assignments require students to apply, analyze and synthesize information,” Grigg Mason says. “The goal, at a minimum, should be to understand the concepts, but often, students will need to change the goal of their study time to include the application and analysis of a concept and how that concept relates to other information they're learning.”

When it comes to absorbing information, plain old reading doesn’t always cut it. “We love to see students use visual strategies like diagramming, outlining and concept cards; auditory strategies like discussing the information with tutors and classmates; and when possible, kinesthetic strategies that involve moving their bodies or manipulating objects,” says Grigg Mason. “Processing information in different ways helps students understand and remember the information better.”

Take advantage of tutoring services. If you feel like your college workload is overwhelming, you’re not alone. “Don't be afraid to reach out to others on campus for assistance,” Grigg Mason says. Sign up for one of the numerous tutoring programs offered around campus. The ones offered through the SALT Center and THINK TANK! are just two options of many.