30 College Reading and Study Skills to Improve Your Grades

college reading and study skills

Every student gets excited once they join college. Every lesson is fascinating. Every day they learn a new thing. However, test papers slap back to reality. Most of the students cannot translate what they have learned into high grades.

College Reading and Study Skills

The study habits you applied in high school are not effective in college. A college education is intense and rigorous. You will not have professors following you to remind you to study. 

It is upon every student to develop study habits that will help them improve their grades. Different practices work well for different students. Set aside some time to experiment on what works best for you.

college reading and study skills

In this article, we will look at some effective college reading and study skills that students apply.

  • Draft a Study Routine

Our minds get used to routines. When you set aside a specific time for study and practice it for some time, the brain becomes accustomed to it. 

Studies show that students who have set specific times to study perform better than their peers who study sporadically. 

A consistent daily study routine prepares your mind and body for studies. It becomes part of you.

  • Set goals For Each Study Session

What do you want to achieve after a study session? Is it to memorize some vocabulary, understand some scientific laws, or apply some math formula? Having a defined goal helps you to have an effective study. A session without a target results in a waste of time.

  • Do Not Cram

Many students cram their notes a few days before exams. The habit due to the desire to cover up the time they wasted throughout the semester. This strategy does not work.

Cramming involves forcing the mind to accommodate a lot of information within a short period.

Smart students plan their study sessions early. They distribute the topics throughout the semester. This way, the brain takes in small bits of information regularly.

  • Never Procrastinate

A student’s life involves so many activities. Some urgent club meetings can prompt you to procrastinate in your studies. Other times you are not in the moods of looking at a book. 

Procrastinating a study session reduces the effectiveness of your study habits. Most procrastinators end up being crammers at the end of the semester.

  • Avoid Distractions

In the current days, there are so many distractors. You may be alone studying, then a WhatsApp or Facebook message pops on your phone screen. It is very hard to ignore. 

Put your phone away and on silent mode. You will respond to the messages after your study session.

Some people study thoroughly with some background noise. Ensure that the sound is not too distracting.

  • Start With Difficult Subjects

Difficult subjects demand a lot of mental energy; Therefore, your mind needs to be fresh and calm. Plan to study the topics you find tough earlier than the rest. 

  • Join Study Groups

Every student understands a concept in a unique way. Those students that study n groups help each other’s understand concepts from different angles. They also help each other out in weak areas. 

The groups should plan on a subject to study in each session. It helps each member prepare for the sessions. So while joining sororities and fraternities, find people who can help you be interested in your studies.

  • Use Mind Maps

Mind maps help as a student to organize, visualize, and summarize ideas. It helps your mind to process the information on a broad topic displayed on a single page. 

You can design your mind map on a paper or get help from the apps available on the internet.

  • Have a Note-Taking Strategy

Every time we learn a new thing, we tend to think we will not forget. Sometimes we make scanty notes believing we will remember everything said in a class by referring to them.

Within the semester, so much happen. There are too many activities and ventures that make us forget the content taught in class. The only savior is the notes you take.

There are various strategies for taking notes. Find out what works best for you and stick by it. Good and well-organized notes make revisions easy and fun.

  • Read Aloud

When you hear something, there is a part of your memory that retains that sound. The trick applies to studies.

Read aloud at home, try to listen to the content. You can record yourself and listen to the recording. Listening to something many times helps your brain to remember.

  • Be a Time Manager

A college student usually has a lot of activities to do in a day. They have classes, clubs to attend, a day or night job, a family looking up to them. All these need time. Without effective time managing strategy, a student may feel so worked out. 

Having a work schedule helps a student be in control of their time. You will get enough time to run all your errands, study, eat and rest.

  • Teach Others

Effective studying needs you to be generous. Share what you understand with others. Explaining a concept to others helps you get a deeper understanding of the same idea. It enables you to visualize the concept from different angles. The questions that arise during such discussions make you analyze the idea more in-depth. 

  • Always Have a Positive Mental Attitude

Receiving low grades after an exam is very demoralizing. A student becomes disappointed in themselves. A significant percentage develops a negative attitude towards themselves. Many end up depressed and hopeless.

Getting low grades should not feel like the end of life. A student needs to re-strategize on their study skills. Shake off that negative attitude and devise ways to improve your grades.

Reassure yourself that you are capable of improving. That positive mental attitude will be the beginning of your success.

  • Improve on Your Weak Areas

Every student has their weak areas; identify them. Your grade patterns in the past few months will help you identify the areas you need to improve. If there is a constant drop of grade in a particular subject, you need to allocate more time to it. Change the study habit and seek assistance. 

After identifying your weak areas, try to figure out the reasons behind the weakness. Maybe you had a misunderstanding with the professor, or you are worried about your sick pet back at home. Identifying your problem will help you address the problem more effectively.

In some instances, you will need to seek professional help to get over the problems affecting your studies.

  • Be Attentive in Class

An attentive student will always grasp much information from the professor. Listen to your teachers attentively. Ask questions and clarifications whenever necessary. 

Make clear notes once you understand. Avoid copying notes from the board before understanding. It will make your revision harder. 

college reading and study skills

  • Practice on Essay-Writing Skills

Most of the tests and assignments in college are in essay format. However, most students do not understand the techniques that could earn them top grades. Practice on all aspects of essay writing. Accept positive criticism and improve on the areas pointed out by the professors. 

  • Study in a Silent Environment

Minds function best under calm environments. Choose a quiet study area to boost your understanding. 

  • Minimize Multitasking

We all believe we can multitask. Multitasking helps save time. For example, you can cook while washing the dishes. However, when you are studying, all your focus should be on the subject before you. Taking up two activities gives you divided attention. Your mind will not be able to retain the information you study. Dedicate study sessions for studying alone. 

  • Take a Balanced Diet Regularly

Besides rest and exercise, our brains require food for growth. When we work, our brain cells wear out. We, therefore, need nutrients to help replace the worn-out cells. 

Eat a balanced diet regularly, take enough water- about eight glasses per day. Have large portions of fruits and vegetables.  Go slow on processed foods and avoid overeating.

  • Spend a Maximum of One Hour on One Subject

College studies are rigorous. On the other hand, our brain concentration span is limited. Avoid studying a single subject for long hours. When concentration span lapses, you will not understand anything else. Studying each item for one hour per session will lead to proper content absorption

  • Do Not Study When You Are Sleepy

Every person has a specific time when they feel sleepy. It may be day time or at night. When you force your mind to capture information at such a time, it will not store any. Dedicate such a time to organize for the next study session. Plan the materials, sort the notes, and arrange your desk. After that, have a nap.

  • Memorize Actively

Reading a text multiple times does not result in memory retention. When you need to memorize, apply other techniques besides reading. Try to visualize and create images in your mind. Use sounds and drawings. Try to relate the concept with something you closely associate with.  Research on the Mnemonics used by others to remember an idea.

  • Take Active Breaks After every Hour of study

Sometimes students set aside three to four hours of study. The time is enough to cover a lot of work. But the mistake they do is to eliminate breaks. Active breaks give your brain some time to absorb the information as you prepare to study another subject. You can make your breaks active by taking a snack. Walking around, getting some fresh air, doing simple exercise, and other activities. The brakes should range from 10-15 minutes.

The breaks help the brain regain focus.

  • Have a Growth Mindset

When joining college, we expect to gather useful information to apply n exam and in real life. 

Be proactive and develop different and effective study habits. When you identify your weak areas, be committed to improving. Never tell your mind that you are not competent enough. Always remember that everyone- including yourself- have a chance and ability to improve in their grades. A growth mindset develops from a positive attitude.

  • Practice Test-Taking Strategies

There are various test-taking strategies in college. They include essays, multiple-choice, true or false, and short answers; being familiar with all these strategies will reduce your test anxiety hence improving your overall grades.

Create exam-like conditions for your practice tests. It helps to lower test anxiety.

  • Review Your Lessons the Same day

Going through your notes the same day helps to retain much information. You may also add some points that you did not capture in class before you forget. 

  • Ask for Assistance from Peers and Professors

There are many instances that a student gets stuck. Maybe you thought you had understood a concept, but when you are revising or self-testing, you find out you cannot remember it fully. The notes you wrote do not seem to make sense. The textbook is too complex to understand. Seek help from peers because we all understand differently. If the answer is not satisfactory, reach out to the professors, they are always ready to help.

  • Review your Notes Every Weekend

Revisiting your notes every weekend helps your mind to retain much information you gathered within that week.do not wait to the end of the semester when you have pilled too many notes. It will be difficult for your mind to absorb all the content within a short time.

  • Exercise Regularly

Regular exercise relaxes our whole body. The brain is, therefore, able to absorb information when the body is relaxed.

college reading and study skills

  • Get Enough Sleep

Our bodies and minds need rest; sleeping helps the body and mind regain the lost energy. 

Enough and quality sleep boosts our memory. An effective learner will take rest as a serious matter.

A good student should ensure they sleep for about 8 hours. If you sleep for shorter periods, gradually increasing until you hit the sleeping time target.

Make your sleeping environment conducive for quality sleep. Make the room quiet and dark to eliminate distractions.

Don’t miss our go-to guide to making friends in college. Read more here! 

Study Team
The Study Team are a collection of enthusiastic and dedicated studiers who love sharing resources, guides and tips on how to make your studying, home learning or education a breeze.