College Ready Skills

Study Skills

Do you remember how you felt after eating that big meal last Thanksgiving? This is similar to the way your brain feels if you try to cram for an exam. Your brain learns much better when you study in shorter chunks every day. Practice the new skills you learn outside class and on tests know how to apply the information you have been given.


Study Groups

Form study groups with four to six others in your class. Students in study groups earn higher grades (Springer, Stanne, & Donovan, 1999). Study groups that meet regularly make it harder to procrastinate and give different opinions on important material. Groups can fill in gaps in material you missed, teach you new ways to study, and are more fun than studying alone. More information about study groups, including tips on setting one up, are available at:


Reflection 14: Why is it so important to practice the skills you learn in class outside of class?

Reflection 15: Describe three advantages that study groups give students.

Test Taking

While there are fewer tests in college than in high school, the stakes are higher since more of the final grade depends on the results. What can you do to prepare for the stress of test taking?

In general, you should remember two things. First, you need to decrease your anxiety level. We will describe several techniques that will let you calm down such as meditation. Secondly you need to focus on the positive. This could be remembering the things you do well as you face stressful situations. Anything you do that decreases your anxiety and increases your confidence improves your chance of being successful.

To do well on tests, you need a clear working memory. Think of your working memory like a desktop. Your brain is like a desktop?


Reflection 16: Why is it important for your brain's working memory to be clear before taking a test?

The following videos describe some techniques that will calm you down and increase your confidence. As you watch, think about how you could use these strategies during your next test.

Practice under Pressure


Think Differently


Write it Down


Reinterpret Your Reactions




Role Models for Success


Reaffirm Your Self Worth


Reflection 17: Which test taking technique did you find to be the most valuable? How will you use this technique the next time you take a test?


Metacognition means thinking about how you think. Strong students are self-aware. They know how they learn best and know if they are really learning something or not. No one knows you better than you know yourself! If you are not learning, be honest with yourself and make changes in how you study. As you watch the next video, hear how vending machines made one student study better.


In college, you will have books, papers, notes, and syllabi from each of your classes to keep straight. Organizing your study materials gives you more study time and decreases your frustration. Here are some other tips:

Reflection 18: What is metacognition?

Reflection 19: Describe one thing you learned from the organization video that you will put into practice.

Time Management

Taking 15 college credits is like having a full-time job. In addition to your class time, you will also need to budget study time as well as work and family activities into an already busy schedule. How are you going to manage all this responsibility?

I Need Help!

New college students frequently need help. No one survives college alone. Ask for help before getting in over your head. Your instructor stands ready to assist you, and there are many other free campus resources available for support too.

What Not to Do

We also asked instructors what students do to get them in trouble. Watch as Bekka, a new college student, makes all the wrong moves.

Reflection 20: Describe one time management strategy that will help you in college.

Reflection 21: When should you ask for help in college?

Reflection 22: Describe one thing Bekka does wrong and explain what she should have done instead.