Student Resources

TEXT book Reading
  • SQ3R Reading System

    The SQ3R reading system is designed to help you study your textbook and apply reading and note-taking skills. The letters in SQ3R stand for five steps: survey, question, read, recite, and review. These steps will help you gain more from what you read and be better prepared for quizzes and exams. In other words, you will maximize the return on your time investment for reading!

    Yes, it takes more time than just reading the words, but have you noticed that just reading the words in your text is a waste of your valuable time? Consider the SQ3R system as an efficient way to read, study, and create a study guide all in one system! Students who use this system report how much time they actually save because they are studying for the exam as they read!

    SURVEY

    • Read the title of the chapter or article. Turn these into questions that you expect to be answered. Add question words, such as why, who, how or what
    • Read the headings and subheadings and turn these into questions
    • Read the introduction and summary to get an overview of the main ideas
    • Read the captions under the visual aids
    • Read any study questions at the end of the chapter or article and use them as goals in your reading

    QUESTION (Question as you survey)

    • As you read each of the above parts, ask yourself what is meant by the title, headings, subheadings, and captions. Make good questions about each. Write these down on 3x5 cards or your study guide
    • Ask yourself what you already know about the subject
    • Ask yourself what your instructor said about the assignment in the class or what was given out on a handout
    • Ask yourself what you want answered from reading the assignment
    • Ask yourself what you will have to do with the information

    READ

    • Read and actively think about what you read
    • Employ critical thinking skills
    • Look for main ideas and supporting details
    • Read to answer questions that were raised in the QUESTION step
    • Read carefully all of the underlined, italicized, and boldfaced words or phrases

    RECITE (Recite immediately after reading an assignment)

    • Use good judgment about places to stop and recite.
    • Use outlining and underlining skills. (Do not underline long passages. Mark after you have read a passage AND understand)
    • Write your own summary statement of each section
    • Quiz yourself on the main points
    • Connect new material with what you already know about the subject
    • Write questions on any material you do not understand and ask your instructor to explain it

    REVIEW (Daily, weekly, and before the test)

    • Look over your outlines and any notations you made in your textbook
    • Study briefly the main ideas to keep the information fresh in your mind
    • Make practice test questions from review notes.

    Feel free to customize this system to meet your own needs and the needs of a particular class or text. The SQ3R system works particularly well for courses where much of the information for quizzes and exams comes from the text, and you must know and understand a lot of detail.

    Adapted from SQ3R handout from Utah State University, Academic Resource Center

Note Taking
  • Cornell Method of Note Taking

    The Cornell Method of note taking is an effective system for organizing your notes into an effective study guide. This system will enable you to better utilize and retain information within the notes. 

    Note-Taking Area:    
    Record the lecture and/or class discussion as fully and as meaningfully as possible.

    Cue Column: 
    As you’re taking notes, keep the cue column empty. Soon after the class, reduce your notes to concise bullets or summary statements to aid in your review.

    Summaries: 
    Sum up each page of your notes in a sentence or two.

    “The 5 Rs of Note Taking”

    There are five stages involved in the Cornell note-taking method. These five stages are referred to as “the 5 R’s”

    Record
    Prior to the actual recording of notes, your page should already be set up with a note taking area, cue column, and a space for summaries. When recording, you can use an outline or paragraph format. Be sure to include important information, diagrams, illustrations, questions/answers provided during his/her the class.

    Reduce
    Review and condense your notes as soon after class as possible. Performing this reduction stage within 24-48 hours of the class increases your understanding and recall by approximately 80%. When reducing, write key words and phrases in the cue column to summarize the main points of the discussion in the fewest words possible. Be sure to anticipate possible questions your teacher may ask, and write them here. Finally, summarize the discussion entirely in your own words; this step aids any student in identifying what he/she knows and understands.

    Recite
    The purpose of this stage is to enable you to cue your memory regarding the class session and its subject. Cover your notes and attempt to reiterate key words and phrases in your own words. The recall column may be used to jog your memory. If this stage proves too difficult, review your notes and attempt again.

    Reflect
    Reflecting proves to be one of the most helpful elements of this method. After reviewing and reciting your notes, give yourself some “wait time” to think about them. It is during this time that you can target which aspects you are strong in and which you need to review and/or study more. Use your text to clarify your notes, define terms, and relate concepts. Make generalizations and draw conclusions. This will help you to become a more active and critical thinker.

    Review
    A brief review of your notes enables you to retain what you have previously learned. The repetition allows you to keep the information fresh, thus decreasing your chance of forgetting what you have learned. The more knowledge you have retained, the better you will be able to do on an exam or during a classroom discussion.

    CORNELL METHOD OF NOTE TAKING (PDF)

  • Tips for Taking Successful Lecture Notes

    There are many reasons for taking lecture notes. 

    • Making yourself take notes forces you to listen carefully and test your understanding of the material.
    • When you are reviewing, notes provide a gauge to what is important in the text.
    • Personal notes are usually easier to remember than the text.
    • The writing down of important points helps you to remember then even before you have studied the material formally. 

    Instructors usually give clues to what is important to take down. Some of the more common clues are: 

    • Material written on the blackboard.
    • Repetition
    • Emphasis
      • Emphasis can be judged by tone of voice and gesture.
      • Emphasis can be judged by the amount of time the instructor spends on points and the number of examples he or she uses.
    • Word signals (e.g. "There are two points of view on, " "The third reason is ", " In conclusion . . . ")
    • Summaries given at the end of class.
    • Reviews given at the beginning of class. 

    Each student should develop his or her own method of taking notes, but most students find the following suggestions helpful: 

    • Make your notes brief.
      • Never use a sentence where you can use a phrase. Never use a phrase where you can use a word.
      • Use abbreviations and symbols, but be consistent. 
    • Put most notes in your own words. However, the following should be noted exactly:
      • Formulas
      • Definitions
      • Specific facts 
    • Use outline form and/or a numbering system. Indention helps you distinguish major from minor points. 
    • If you miss a statement, write key words, skip a few spaces, and get the information later. 
    • Don't try to use every space on the page. Leave room for coordinating your notes with the text after the lecture. (You may want to list key terms in the margin or make a summary of the contents of the page.) 
    • Date your notes. Perhaps number the pages.
Test Taking Resources
  • Exam Types and Success Strategies

    ESSAY TESTS

    • Read the directions carefully; pay close attention to whether you are supposed to answer all the essays or only a specified amount (answer 2 out of the 3 questions).
    • Make sure that you understand what the question is asking you.
    • Make sure that you write down everything that is asked of you and more. The more relevant details and facts that you write down, the better your grade will be.
    • Budget your time. Don't spend the entire test time on one essay.  If you have time left over at the end, go back and finish any incomplete essays.
    • If the question is asking for facts, don't give your personal opinion on the topic.
    • When writing your essay, try to be as neat as possible.
    • Make an outline before writing your essay. This way your essay will be more organized and fluid.
    • Don't write long introductions and conclusions, the bulk of your time should be spent on answering the question(s) asked.
    • Focus on one main idea per paragraph.
    • If you have time left at the end of the test, proofread your work and correct any errors.

     MULTIPLE CHOICE TESTS

    • Read the question before you look at the answers.
    • Come up with the answer in your head before looking at the possible answers. This way, the choices given on the test won't throw you off or trick you.
    • Eliminate answers you know aren't right.
    • Read all the choices before choosing your answer.
    • If there is no guessing penalty, always take an educated guess and select an answer.
    • Don't keep on changing your answer. Usually your first choice is the right one.
    • In "All of the Above" and "None of the Above" choices, if you are certain one of the statements is true, don't choose "None of the Above," or if one of the statements is false, don't choose "All of the Above.”
    • In a question with an "All of the Above" choice, if there are at least two correct statements, then "All of the Above" is probably the answer.

     OPEN BOOK TESTS

    • Spend an equal or greater amount of time preparing as you would for a normal test; the open book test will most likely be harder than if it were a closed book exam.
    • Familiarize yourself with the book and relevant materials.
    • If it's allowed, write down all the important formulas and key information on a separate sheet so you don't have to search through your book.
    • Focus on learning the main ideas and get a feel for where they are located in the book. Learn the details later if there's still time.
    • Highlight important points. If it is allowed, use post-it notes, bookmarks and make notes in your book.
    • Answer the questions that you know off the top of your head first, then go back and answer the questions where you need to reference your book.
    • Use quotations from the book to support your view, but don't over-quote, be sure to give your own insight and commentary.

     MATH TESTS 

    • Repetition is important in math. You learn how to solve problems by doing them, so study using practice problems.  Make sure you learn how to recognize when/why you should use a specific method to solve a problem.
    • Work on practice problems for each topic ranging in levels of difficulty.
    • When practicing, try to solve the problem on your own then look at the answer or seek help if you are having trouble.
    • When you get your exam, write down all the key formulas on the margin of your paper so if you forget them when you're in the middle of the test you can look back at the formula.
    • Read the directions carefully and don't forget to answer all parts of the question.
    • Show all your work (especially when partial credit is awarded) and write as legibly as possible.
    • Check over your test after you are done with it. If you have time, redo the problem on a separate piece of paper and see if you come up with the same answer the second time around.
    • Look for careless mistakes such as making sure the decimal is in the right place, that you read the directions correctly, that you copied the numbers correctly, that you put a negative sign if it is needed, that your arithmetic is correct, and so on.

     SHORT ANSWER TESTS 

    • Use flashcards, writing the key terms, dates and concepts on the front, and the definition, event, and explanations on the back.
    • Try to anticipate questions that will be asked on the test and prepare for them. Usually what your instructor emphasizes in class will be on the test.
    • Try not to leave an answer blank, show your work/write down your thoughts, even if you don't get the exact answer.
    • If you don't know the answer, come back to it after you finish the rest of the test and make an educated guess. Other parts of the test may give you clues to what the answer may be.
    • Read the question carefully and make sure that you answer everything that it asks for; some short answer questions have multiple parts.

     TRUE/FALSE TESTS 

    • Usually there are more true answers than false.
    • Read through each statement carefully, and pay attention to the qualifiers and keywords.
    • Qualifiers like "never, always, and every" mean that the statement must be true all of the time. Usually these type of qualifiers lead to a false answer.
    • Qualifiers like "usually, sometimes, and generally" mean that the statement can be considered true or false depending on the circumstances. Usually these type of qualifiers lead to an answer of true.
    • If any part of the question is false, then the entire statement is false, but, just because part of a statement is true, doesn't necessarily make the entire statement true.
  • Tips for Managing Test Anxiety

    You went to class, completed homework, and studied. You arrived at the exam confident about the material.  But if you have test anxiety, a type of performance anxiety, taking the test is the most difficult part of the equation.  The following are some causes of test anxiety:

     Fear of failure:  While the pressure to perform can act as a motivator, it can also be devastating to individuals who tie their self-worth to the outcome of a test.

     Lack of preparation:  Waiting until the last minute or not studying at all can leave individuals feeling anxious and overwhelmed.

     Poor test history: Previous problems or bad experiences with test-taking can lead to a negative mindset and influence performance on future tests.

     Tips for Managing Test Anxiety

    BE PREPARED
    Develop good study habits. Study at least a week or two before the exam, in smaller increments of time and over a few days (instead of pulling an "all-nighter"). Try to simulate exam conditions by working through a practice test, following the same time constraints.

    DEVELOP GOOD TEST TAKING SKILLS
    Read the directions carefully, answer questions you know first and then return to the more difficult ones. Outline essays before you begin to write.

    MAINTAIN A POSITIVE ATTITUDE
    Remember that your self-worth should not be dependent on or defined by a test grade. Creating a system of rewards and reasonable expectations for studying can help to produce effective studying habits. There is no benefit to negative thinking.

    STAY FOCUSED
    Concentrate on the test, not other students during your exams. Try not to talk to other students about the subject material before taking an exam

    PRACTICE RELAXATION TECHNIQUES
    If you feel stressed during the exam, take deep, slow breaths and consciously relax your muscles, one at a time. This can invigorate your body and will allow you to better focus on the exam.

     STAY HEALTHY
    Get enough sleep, eat healthfully, exercise and allow for personal time. If you are exhausted—physically or emotionally—it will be more difficult for you to handle stress and anxiety.

  • Test Taking Strategies

    Examinations are a fact of life in college and the best way to be successful on tests is to be prepared.  Staying up all night to "cram" is not a good strategy to succeed.  It's hard to take in and retain a large amount of information in a short period of time.  Below are some tips to help develop test taking skills: 

    BEFORE THE TEST 

    • Start preparing for exams the first day of class. Do this by reading the syllabus carefully to find out when tests are scheduled, how many there are, and how much they are weighed into the final grade. 
    • Plan reviews as part of a regular weekly study schedule. Reviews are much more than reading and rereading all assignments.  Read over lecture notes and ask yourself questions on the material you don't know well.  Create a study group for these reviews to reinforce learning. 
    • Review for several short periods rather than one long period. You retain information better and get less fatigued. 
    • Turn the main points of each topic or heading into questions and check to see if the answers come to you quickly and correctly. Try to predict examination questions; then outline your answers. 
    • Flashcards may be a helpful way to review in courses that have many unfamiliar terms. Review cards in random order using only those terms that you have difficulty remembering. 

    DURING THE TEST 

    • First, read the directions carefully. Points are often lost because students didn't follow the directions. 
    • Remember to preview the test to see how much time you need to allot for each section. If the test is all multiple choice questions, it is good to know that immediately. 
    • Work on the "easiest" parts first. If your strength is essay questions, answer those first to get the maximum points.  Pace yourself to allow time for the more difficult parts. 
    • When answering essay questions, try to make an outline in the margin before writing. Organization, clear thinking, and good writing is important, but so is neatness. Be sure to make your writing legible. 
    • Save time at the end of the exam to review your test and make sure you haven't left out any answers or parts of answers. This is difficult to do under the stress of exams, but it often prevents needless errors.

    AFTER THE TEST  

    • If the instructor reviews the exam in class, make sure to attend. This is an important class because it helps reinforce the information one more time in long-term memory.  It is an opportunity to hear what the instructor was looking for in the answers.  This can help you on the next exam. 
    • Go over the exam to determine areas of strength and weakness in your test-taking skills. If you have done poorly, learn from your mistakes.  Analyze your exam to determine how you can improve future test results.