Improve Your Study Skills

Are you looking for some resources for making the most of your study time? Check out these helpful strategies for enhancing the way you approach your study sessions.

1. Pick up on the professor’s cues for test questions. Is a point repeated? Is info written on the board? Ask the instructor what you are expected to know, and what type of test will be given. In Study tips at USD lectures, watch for test questions by observing what the instructor says and how they say it.

When you know a test is coming up, plan ahead. First, study alone. Then review with three or four others in the week before the exam.

2. Save all quizzes, handouts, and graded material of any kind. Quiz questions are likely to appear in a slightly altered form on exams. Find out: What type of test will you be taking? What will the test cover? How much material are you expected to know from your readings and how much from your notes? How do the notes, text, and supplementary readings relate? How much weight will be given to each item on the exam?

3. Maximize your study time! Spend ten minutes after each class reviewing your notes and cleaning them up throughout the semester. If you try to cram, brain-lag sets in. Cramming does not allow for info to move from short-term into long-term memory.

4. Study actively, not passively! Write down what you have to do, allocate your study time, and thenStudy Skills at USD begin studying! Don’t spend more time talking about studying than actually studying. Recite or rewrite info that you need to master. Rereading is not enough. Construct summary sheets, flash cards, or diagrams.

5. Create practice tests! You will likely be graded upon your ability to see the subject matter from your instructor’s perspective.

  1. If your exam is to be in essay form, prepare several essay type questions on a variety of the topics to be tested.
  2. If your instructor has announced that the test will consist of true-false, multiple choice, and fill-in-the-blank questions, study by listing facts and bits of information around a particular theme or concept. Make up all the questions that you think the examiner should or could ask about the material to be covered and learn the answers.
  3. Turn headings and key words in your book and notes into questions.

6. Strategize your unread materials! Approach unread material only after you have gathered together all material for the exam and planned your overall approach. Use the following guides for unread material:

  • Divide the material into smaller parts for more intensive study. Set time limits for each part.
  • Start reading the material, staying within the time limits you set even if you must skim key Tips for successful studying at USD sentences only.
  • As you finish a page or part, recall the material immediately. Say it aloud. This enhances retention even without later review.

Download your USD Study Skills Resource Guide here!

The key to these self-made tests is practice, practice, practice!

For additional resources please visit the Center for Health and Wellness Promotion in UC 161 or check out these great campus partners:

The Center for Student Success offers undergraduate students the opportunity to meet one-on-one with a Peer Coach or professional staff to address academic and personal needs within a confidential setting. For more information, contact the CSS at or (619) 260-5995.

Student Support Services is another great program at USD that helps eligible students who enroll at USD from low-income and/or first generation backgrounds, and/or who have documented disabilities. SSS provides services to retain and graduate students, and works to help you begin careers. For more information about SSS, please email