Effective Studying

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Effective Studying

Earning your degree at American National University is a rewarding experience that comes from hard work and self-discipline. Many of ANU’s students attend their classes after working their full-time job that supports their family. We know that our students are balancing much more than school during their academic journey. While juggling so much on their plates, we want to help all of our students earn their diplomas in the easiest and most effective ways.

Studying in higher education can be difficult for many reasons. You must study more when earning a degree or diploma after high school—and many are not taught proper study skills they need to succeed. At ANU, all we want is for our students to succeed—we want to give effective studying tips so that you can optimize your time and reduce your frustration so that you can stay on track in your classes.

There are many different, scientifically proven strategies that can help you study. And no one way is the right way!

There is the THIEVES method: Read the Title, look through the Headings, skim the Introduction, look at Every first sentence of a section, look at the Visuals and vocabulary that are highlighted, review the End questions at the end of a chapter, and read the Summary of the chapter.

There is the SQ3R method: Skim through the content, Question yourself about the content, Read the text carefully and look for the answers to the questions you asked, Recite the answers to your previous questions and take notes on them, and Review what you have done.

And there are also many other ways to study. Take notes while in class, review your notes, even rewrite your notes. When rewriting your notes, clean them up so that only the most important information is before you, add visuals to your notes to help you remember. The act of writing and rewriting your notes will help you retain the material. Along with that, these notes can help you create other study materials, such as flash cards, that you can read over and practice with.

You can also create a study group with your classmates and peers. In a group, you can ask questions to each other to better understand the information. You can quiz or test each other and go over those tests to gain a better understanding through someone else’s perspective. And studying with peers makes it fun rather than feeling like a chore!

  • Become a Teacher

No, we don’t mean literally. However, put yourself in the role of an educator. You have to understand the material in order to teach it to someone else. How would you present it in order for someone else to learn? Recruit a family member or friend to be your “student” and lecture them on the topic. If they have questions, would you be able to answer them? Much like studying in a group, having someone else be your student and give you their perspective can allow you to see your studying material in a new way!

Katherine Kowalski explains it best in how many college students learn their material through a paper written by McDaniel et al, “If information just seems sort of random, ask more questions. Make sure you can explain the material. Better yet, he says, see if you can explain it to someone else. Some of his college students do this by calling home to explain what they’re learning to their parents.”

  • Learn From Your Mistakes

The good side of studying is that you can make plenty of mistakes without consequence. Making mistakes will actually help you if you learn from them. When testing yourself, getting an answer wrong will show you what areas you need to focus on more. No human is perfect, but “failing” while studying can help you boost your knowledge.

  • Manage Your Schedule and Your Stress

When it comes to studying, make sure to schedule your time. Some classes may be harder and require more time to look over their materials, whereas others may take less time. Along with that, schedule breaks so you aren’t trying to cram all your information in at once—which research shows it’s bad to try to cram all your studying in the day before a big test.

Along with that, schedule your study sessions weeks in advance to exams and tests. Studying does not come naturally to most—you have to make time to do it. The more times you study, the more likely you are to pass your quiz/test. The more times you have to practice and study the information, the closer you will be to mastering the subject—as the cliché goes, practice makes perfect.

Visit our Time Management article to learn how to best schedule your time and studying sessions. And be sure to read our Burnout prevention article to help avoid academic burnout while on your educational journey.

  • Know When to Stop

Much like our Time Management article will tell you, time is not what needs to be managed, but people are. And yes, you should schedule time to study, but you should also schedule time to relax. Your body needs rest, and your mind needs to have fun. Don’t overwork yourself when that will only lead to stress and demoralization. Allow yourself to have fun without worrying about studying, or classes, or work. Spend time with friends, family, or loved ones. Get your mind away from responsibility so that you can come back with fresh eyes and a new perspective—which will only help you study!

When taking your breaks, get restful sleep, and eat foods that help improve your memory and focus. Such foods include dark chocolate, nuts and seeds, whole grains, avocados, eggs, and broccoli. Even a cup of coffee will help boost your energy and increase your brain’s capacity for processing information!

  • Ask For Help

It’s been mentioned to work in a study group or ask someone to be your “student” so that you can have a well-rounded study session. However, you can also ask your professors for help when you need it. With our Global Learn™ initiative, many of our faculty have experience in the fields they teach. They will be your experts in learning—so utilize them in all the ways you can! Email them, meet with them, or ask all the questions you have during your classes. Your professors are there to teach and help you!


At American National University, we want to see you succeed and earn your diploma. These study tips will hopefully prepare you for your classes. With over 130 years of educating students just like you, we want you to be ready for any challenges that may come your way. With our High Tech, High Touch™ approach to your education, you can be live, in class, from anywhere. We offer much more than an “online” degree, we offer you an entire university—classes and resources to student services and more—from the comfort of your own home. Learn more about the services we can offer you anywhere you are at https://an.edu/elearning/.

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