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In college, tests are often more difficult and they tend to be a larger part of your overall grade in each class. You are expected to do more independent study on a subject outside of the actual classroom, and quite often the class itself moves along more quickly than you are used to in high school. If you would like to be successful in class and not constantly overwhelmed and stressed out, then these good study habits are essential.

1. Make a schedule and stick to it

Time management is a key to your success in college. You are on your own for the first time and there are a lot of things to do; both academic and social. Even though your schedule may seem overwhelming, there is time to get everything done. Once you know your class schedule, set up specific times for studying. Study every day if you can.

2. Create your environment

Almost everyone studies best in a quiet environment with few distractions. It’s best to create this place if possible. It tells your brain that you are here for a specific purpose, and can help you focus. If your dorm environment is always noisy, or if you are constantly distracted while in your dorm, then finding another quiet place, such as a library might help you. Noise cancelling headphones can also help – and some of us find it easier to study with music.

3. Study in spurts, don’t cram

Our brain at its most productive during about the first 60 minutes of study. If you need to schedule two hours of study time, you’ll actually be more productive if you take a ten-minute break in the middle. If you study for three hours straight without a break, your mind will be fatigued and retain less information.

We all have to do it at some point or another, but cramming should be avoided for the reasons listed above. There are diminishing returns after a certain point of study. Plus, it stresses the rest of your body to cram. If you have been studying for a test on a regular basis, then you will probably be better off getting a good night’s rest than you would be staying up late to study.

4. Sleep

Sleep is important. It’s what keeps you sharp. If you are not getting enough sleep at night, then your study time is going to suffer. A fatigued brain will have to study longer in order to retain information. There will likely be short periods of time where you are overwhelmed with work and might not get as much sleep as you need, it happens to all of us, but don’t get in the habit of sacrificing sleep for study on a regular basis.

5. Utilize tutors and study groups

Use all of the tools available to you It may help you to get together and study with others who are taking the same class. If you feel behind in a class or that you aren’t grasping some of the concepts being presented, it’s a good idea to find a tutor who can help you, rather than trying to puzzle it out all on your own.

6. Don’t get behind – and if you get behind, catch up quick!

College courses move quickly. If you do not have a regular study time scheduled, it can be pretty easy to get behind. If, for example, your homework is to read two or three chapters of a text book between classes, getting behind on that could have you struggling to read half of the book before the test! The best thing you can do is stay caught up on all of your work.