University of Washington
Tips for Academic Success
Realistically Plan Your
Time management skills can help you
feel more in control of your life so that you can find more free time
and more effective study time.
- Structure your academic
schedule as if it were a 40-hour work week.
- Use a planner or calendar to
write down all your regularly scheduled activities as well as any due
dates for papers or exams. Plan time for sleep, exercise, and social
- Determine your best study
environment and time of the day. Plan study time each week that is
consistent with your style.
- Take ten minutes before each
class to review your notes from the previous class. Take ten minutes
after each class to "fix up" and review the notes just taken.
- Break large or overwhelming
tasks into smaller manageable steps.
- Reward yourself for
completing tasks. This means noting what you have accomplished even if
an entire project is not complete.
- Before you read, preview the
material in the chapter. Read any introductions or chapter summaries.
- Have a purpose when you
You may want to think of a question that you are trying to answer in
section of material. Do not move ahead in the chapter until you can
your question. Ask yourself, "Am I getting it?" If not, go back and
the place where you last understood the material and reread.
- Focus on the main idea and
any supporting information.
- Take notes as you read. Try
making an outline of the material by organizing the main ideas and each
- In your own words, write a
brief summary of the main ideas. Or, draw a diagram illustrating the
relationships between the main ideas.
Maximize Your Memory Potential
- Before trying to memorize,
assess your level of concentration. If you are not able to focus, you
are not likely to retain much information. Determine what you need to
be able to focus
(e.g., food, a short nap, a walk, several deep breaths, etc.), take
of this need then refocus.
- Use flash cards. Write a
or formula on the front of a card and its definition on the back. Go
through the cards until you can define each word correctly.
- Create acronyms. Make up a
word or phrase using the first letter of each term you what to remember
(e.g., the spectrum of colors in a rainbow can be remembered with Roy
G. Biv = red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet).
- Draw diagrams of concepts
that you are trying to remember. Be able to verbally explain the
concept and reproduce the diagram.
- Study to the point of
not simply recognition. This means that you can define and explain
in your own words.
Take Tests Wisely
- Pay close attention to
directions, both oral and written.
- Skim the entire exam before
answering anything, then plan your time according to difficulty and
value of each
- Answer the easy questions
first, then go back and do the more difficult questions. Pay attention
to information in questions that may help in other parts of the exam.
- Watch out for qualifier
in questions (e.g., none, some, frequently, never, most, etc.).
- BREATHE--10 deep,
breaths will help release tension and enhance your focus. Remind
that your entire future does not rest on one test and that you will
from this experience regardless of how well you do on the exam.
- Recognize how you typically respond to stress (physically,
emotionally and cognitively).
- Assess your stress level before you begin studying. If you
are experiencing a high degree of stress you won't be able to study as
- Respond to your stress accordingly; determine what you need to do
to reduce stress.
- Remember, some anxiety or stress is normal and can actually
enhance your performance!
Follow the link below for a detailed schedule of Study-Smarter
Workshops scheduled for this quarter.
The Counseling Center offers a series of free
Study-Smarter Workshops which are offered routinely throughout the year:
- Note-Taking and Learning from Your Textbook
- Test-Anxiety and Stress Reduction
- Memorization Skills and Test-Taking Skills
- Time Management and Procrastination
Your Departmental Advisor
planning course schedules
© 2005 UW