How to Study in College

Hi everyone! Sydney here to talk about how I learned to study in college and some of my tried-and-tested study skills. Finals season is fast approaching so studying has been on my mind a lot lately.

Coming into college, I was most worried about the academic transition from high school to college. I was scared I wouldn’t be able to understand and keep up with the material. When I came to Scripps and first registered for classes, I quickly learned how much free time I would have every day! All my classes in college so far have each met for a total of 3 hours per week. This means I’m only in class for about 12 hours a week and that I have the other 156 hours in my week to do whatever I want!

A study strategy I’ve been using since middle school is simply reviewing my class notes and reading notes. It seems simple but it really is a good starting place to see how much you remember from the material and what specific areas you might need to focus more on. For terms I need to remember, I use Quizlet which is a website/app that you can make flashcards on. I’ve been using Quizlet tons this semester to study my organic chemistry (OChem) terms, formulas, and equations. This way, I can test myself and “star” terms I need to practice more.

For science specifically, my best tip is to rewrite chemical equations and reactions as many times as you need to remember them. In OChem, I have been making sheets of the chemical reactions for each chapter. I like that I can color them and make them my own which also makes studying more fun! For STEM classes that have problem sets, I’d also suggest choosing a few questions per set to redo to make sure you remember how to solve it.

A huge adjustment I made in my studying has been using the Pomodoro method. This is a well-researched study method that has really helped me stay on task. You set a 25-minute timer, work uninterrupted until the time is up, and then you take a 5-minute break. Repeat this 3 more times for a total of 4 ‘Pomodoros’ and then you get to take a longer 30-minute break. I use an app called Forest to keep track of my Pomodoros and the app also has a mode where it doesn’t let me open up any more apps on my phone while the timer’s going. It has definitely reduced the number of distractions I have while studying and is reward-oriented which motivates me as well.

I also learned to study every week and not just when I have a test or quiz coming up. This helps me really understand what I’m learning and keeps me on top of my work. Studying doesn’t have to be stress-inducing or hard. It’s best to break it up and move through it gradually to get it all done in time. The most important part of all of this is to speak up early if there’s something you’re not fully understanding in class. Professors make themselves very available in office hours and they’re also just an email away. Meeting with professors outside of class has been so helpful and sometimes the professors will give you extra study materials to make sure you understand.

My final and most important tip for studying is taking breaks! Don’t work long into the night. Take at least an hour away from screens. Do something that calms you down in between studying. Try your best not to cram. Reducing your stress before assessments can improve your actual performance!


I hope these study tips have been helpful. Go forth and ace all of your future exams! If you have any questions for me, please don’t hesitate to email me: [email protected]!