Study Skills Topics

Goal Setting & Time Management

Concentration & Memory

Critical Analysis & Conceptual Understanding

College-level Writing

Exam Preparation & Performance

Anxiety & Stress Management

Understanding Learning Styles

College Note-Taking

Goal Setting & Time Management

When you put new time management strategies to use, you will

  • Gain time
  • Improve your motivation and initiative
  • Develop alternatives to procrastination
  • Structure review habits and improve long term retention
  • Avoid long cramming sessions and sleepless nights
  • Ease your anxiety and lower your stress

Keys to Goal Setting and Time Management

A first step to taking control of your time is to become aware of your personal goals and priorities so that you can design a schedule that fits you. Getting to know yourself involves learning how to check back in with yourself in order to regulate your performance and to tweak your plans according to your evolving goals. 

Activities

Resources

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Concentration & Memory

Since challenging material and comprehensive exams constitute the core of the college curriculum and performance measures, successful students must develop habits that foster concentration and purposeful memorization.

Advantages of Concentration and Memory

When you put good concentration and memory strategies to use, you will

  • Optimize your productivity
  • Automatically master details in order to free up the mental energy needed to address the “big picture”
  • Gain traction on the “big picture” which will, in turn, help you retain details

Keys to Concentration and Memory

A first step to improving your concentration and memory is to find a good place to study and develop regular study habits so you can focus on your learning instead of your organization.  Most learners benefit from studying in chunks, adopting an active learning style, and taking advantage of mechanical memory aids.

The following resources will help improve your concentration and memory.

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Critical Analysis & Conceptual Understanding

As a college student, you are engaged not only in increasing your personal stores of knowledge but also in expanding both the domain (conceptual breadth) and structures (analyses) of humanity’s understanding of our world. 

Advantages of Conceptual Understanding and Critical Analysis

When you become adept at analyzing, processing, and combining concepts and develop the academic language needed to describe these intellectual activities, you will be able to demonstrate and share your own original thinking with peers and academic mentors. 

Keys to Conceptual Understanding and Critical Analysis

The keys to developing these skills are the awareness and the practice of addressing reflective questions such as:

  • Have I learned something brand new, and how can I connect what I have learned to what I already know?
  • How do I know that what I think I have learned is in fact true?
  • Does my “discovery" or conclusion constitute new knowledge that I can explain to someone else?

Resources

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College-level Writing

Learning to write at the college level can prove to be a difficult task for even the best students. By learning to become a better writer, you are taking an important step towards academic success. The writing skills you learn in college will prepare you for successfully transitioning to the professional environment.

Advantages of Writing

On the one hand, a well-written product will help you communicate your academic masteries and your original thinking to your peers and mentors; this communication skill will gain your graders’ respect and enable you to join intellectual dialogs that interest you.  On the other hand, the process of developing a well-written product will help you to strengthen your conceptual understanding and critical analysis skills.

Keys to Writing

Learning to write well is a cumulative process that involves much trial and error followed by a patient, self-regulating review of your progress. Dartmouth has developed a helpful webpage for first-year college writers that helps walk students through this process: click here.

Resources

Please click on any of the following writing topics:

(Alternative format available upon request: arc@mercer.edu)

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Exam Preparation & Performance

College courses require that you put together information obtained from separate readings and class lectures so that you can efficiently develop integrated review tools in preparation for your exams.

Advantages of Exam Preparation and Performance

When you put strong test-taking strategies to use, you will

  • Know when you need help understanding class material
  • Feel prepared for pop quizzes
  • Predict the content and style of your exams
  • Create comprehensive study guides and test yourself repeatedly
  • Transform nervous energy into mental sharpness
  • Safeguard scores by regulating exam performance and reviewing answers

Keys to Exam Preparation and Performance

A first step to improving your exam performance is to adequately prepare for each and every exam. Developing a time management schedule that outlines what exams you need to prepare for and when the exams will be taken will help reduce your test anxiety when exam day comes. By using effective study methods and giving yourself time to prepare, you will perform better on exams. Reviewing returned exams to learn what you did incorrectly will help you avoid those same mistakes on future exams.

Resources

The following resources will help improve your exam preparation and performance:

(Alternative format available upon request: arc@mercer.edu)

•Preparing for Exams & Ten Traps of Studying

•Conquering Essay Tests

•Examining Returned Tests

Note: These are external links that will open in a new window.
•How to Get the Most out of Studying
•Ten Tips for Better Test Taking
•Preparing for Math Exams
•Dealing with Test Anxiety
•Emergency Test Preparation - A Structured Approach to Cramming!
•Anticipating Test Content
•Organizing for Test Taking

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Anxiety & Stress Management

College can be a wonderful yet highly stressful time in the lives of students. Mounting pressures from assignment due dates and looming exams can seem overwhelming if you are unprepared to manage your stress and anxiety.

Advantages of Anxiety and Stress Management

Learning to manage anxiety and stress will allow you to focus on achieving academic success. By effectively coping with or learning to avoid anxiety and stress, you will

  • Improve your physical and emotional health
  • Improve your test performance
  • Improve your focus in the classroom

Keys to Anxiety and Stress Management

A first step in managing anxiety and stress is to identify what situations trigger your stress or anxiety and to learn to respond to those situations appropriately. Learn to manage your time effectively to avoid unnecessary time pressures and to ensure that you are fully prepared for exams. Learn the benefits of proper sleep, diet, and exercise and how each of these things can positively or negatively affect your ability to manage stress.

Resources

(Alternative format available upon request: arc@mercer.edu)

•Foundations of Health and Wellness

•Relaxation Techniques

Note: These are external links that will open in a new window.
•Dealing with Test Anxiety
•Exercise Makes Your Brain Brighter at Any Age
•Foods that Increase Brain Power
•Mercer University Counseling & Psychological Services
•Mercer University Recreational Sports & Wellness
•Mercer University Fitness Center 

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Understanding Learning Styles

Learning styles vary from student to student, and teaching styles vary from instructor to instructor. Identifying your own preferred method of learning or learning style will help you recognize and overcome the gaps between your professor's teaching style and your learning style. You may have already identified your learning style without realizing it. 

Do you:

  • Prefer to read new material rather than having it read to you?
  • Catch yourself doodling while in class?
  • Understand concepts better after doing a lesson in the chemistry lab?

These are all clues about which learning style you prefer. Take the VARK Questionnaire to learn more!

What's Your Learning Style?

Click on the link below to take the VARK learning styles questionnaire.

•VARK Questionnaire

Resources

Click on the following links for additional information about learning styles.

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•Learning Rx - Learning Styles Information
•North Carolina State University Learning Styles Information

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College Note-Taking

College courses require that you put together information obtained from separate readings and class lectures so that you can efficiently develop integrated review tools in preparation for your exams.

Advantages of Good Note-Taking

When you put good note-taking strategies to use, you will

  • Get more out of your readings and lectures
  • Generate more complete notes
  • Integrate reading and lecture materials
  • Step up to daily reviews for each class
  • Condense your notes into handy recitation formats for quizzes and tests

Keys to Good Note-Taking

A first step to improving your note-taking is to organize your notebooks so that you can cross-reference your notes in real time and reconstruct them sequentially if need be. Evaluating proven note-taking systems will enable you to choose a system that leads you to complete, integrate, review, and condense your notes in order to get a jump on your exam preparation.

Resources

The following resources will help you design a disciplined note-taking system and a regulated pattern of behaviors to improve your long-term retention and higher-level comprehension.

Note: These are external links that will open in a new window.

(Alternative format available upon request: arc@mercer.edu)
•Note Taking Systems
•Telegraphic Style Writing
•The Cornell Note-taking System -- (Click here for a printable Cornell Notes Template)
•A Learning Secret: Don't Take Notes with a Laptop

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