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Academic Success Strategies

Created in collaboration with UW - River Falls Tutoring Services, Spring 2014

Linnea Ramberg

on 11 June 2014

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Transcript of Academic Success Strategies

Academic Success Strategies
Taking Notes and Active Listening
Don’t bring to class (or keep it turned off in your backpack)
Cell phone
Textbooks and Scholarly Articles
Avoid “obedient purposelessness”- wasted effort
Ask what is it you want to get out of a reading assignment, then look for those points

One Schedule to Rule them All
Time Management

Motivates and initiates by reducing avoidance and promoting review.
Increases effectiveness by eliminating cramming.
Reduces anxiety by letting you gain time. Knowing what and when you are going to study saves you time.
Routines can increase productivity
help you focus when it is time to work
Reduce mental clutter

1. Record class and lab times in appropriate blocks on a time schedule sheet (Syllabus)

2. Record regularly scheduled personal activities (meetings, employment, athletics, events)

3. Record meal time

4. Schedule study/homework time everyday for each class

5. Schedule a pre/review time before/after each class whenever possible

6. Schedule a weekly review for each course at the end of the week

Keep time open for physical activity, free time and sleep.
An outline is a list of all the key points that are related to a topic
The information in the list is separated by indents, letters, and numbers so that it is easier to see the relationship and determine how important each key point is
Rewrite your notes out so that they are organized and easy to understand.
Use your book as a reference to make sure you have all the necessary information

Outlining and Reorganizing
Shows you the relationship between all the key points
Distinguishes the major topics from the subtopics and recognizes the major and minor details that support them
You may need to make more than one map as the professor may cover more than one main topic in a class
Cornell Method
Varying Speeds
1. simple material with few ideas new to you

2. Unnecessary examples, elaborations illustrations which are included to clarify ideas

3. Concepts already highlighted in class - return to these subjects ti check for new information later

1. There is an unfamiliar or abstract term not made clear by the sentence.
Try to understand it from the way it’s used; then read on and return to it later. You may wish to underline the word so you can find it again quickly

2. Long, detailed, or abstract sentence and paragraph structure.
Slow down enough to enable you to untangle them and get an accurate idea of what the passage says

3. Detailed technical material

4. Material on which you want detailed retention.
Key to memory is organization and recitation

When to Slow Down
When to Speed Up
Muscle Reading Phase 2
Active Studying
Study cards

Convenient to carry and flip through for mastery
Go over the cards orally, learning requires the expenditure of energy, and reading it out loud can help you remember
Writing out the cards helps your brain process the information and remember it better

Memory Tips
"Over-learn" through repetition
Rehearse information you’ve already learned. Review what you’ve learned the same day you learn it, and at intervals thereafter. This “spaced rehearsal” is more effective than cramming, especially for retaining what you’ve learned.
Association is a key to memory - Sell it to yourself
Relate new information to things you learned previously, or relate it to real-world examples, or to things that are going on in your life.
Compare and contrast, analyze each concept in reference to its context
Involve as many senses as possible. Try to relate information to colors, textures, smells, and tastes. The physical act of rewriting information can help imprint it onto your brain. Even if you’re a visual learner, read out loud what you want to remember. If you can recite it rhythmically, even better.
For more complex material, focus on understanding basic ideas rather than memorizing isolated details. Practice explaining the ideas to someone else in your own words.
Information learned first and last is easiest to remember
Test Prep
Ask the instructor to specify the areas that will be emphasized on the test
Review practice tests, home work, practice problems, and notes
Treat the study guide like a test - if the professor does not provide one, create your own
Stay positive
Get enough sleep
Your brain processes information, problem solves, and repairs itself while you sleep
Test Day
Show up to the test early - to talk or not to talk with classmates?
Stay positive
Survey the entire test – to budget time
Do not stay on problems you do not know, come back after you complete all the easier questions
Parts of the test may have information that will help you with other questions
If time permits, when you are finished, look over your test
Go with your first instinct
Ask for clarification if you don’t understand what is being asked

Multiple Choice
Come up with the answer in your head before looking at the possible answers
Eliminate answers you know are incorrect
In “none of the above” choices, if you are certain one of the statements is true don’t choose “none of the above”
A positive choice is more likely to be true than a negative choice
Usually the correct answer is the choice with the most information
With an “all of the above” choice, if you see at least two correct answers, then “all of the above” is probably right

Essay Tests
Make sure you understand what the question is asking you, if you don’t, then ask
Make sure to address every part of the question
If the question is asking for facts, do not give your personal opinion
Write neat and have an outline for organization
Do not write long introductions and conclusions
One main idea per paragraph
Proof read if time allows
If you are not sure of an exact date or number, use an approximation
Read through each statement carefully, pay attention to qualifiers and keywords
Qualifiers like “never, always, and every” mean that the statement must be true all of the time, usually resulting in an answer of false
Qualifiers like “usually, sometimes, and generally” means the statement can be true or false depending circumstances, this usually results in 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 does not necessarily make the entire statement true
Short Answer
Flash cards are good for remembering dates, concepts, definitions, events, and explanations
Do not leave an answer blank, write down your thoughts and show your work
If you don’t know the answer, come back to it after you finish the rest of the test
If you can think of more than one answer for a question, explain your logic to the professor
Try to anticipate questions that will be asked on the test and prepare for them
Usually whatever your professor emphasizes in class will be on the test
Read the question carefully and make sure you answer everything that it asks for. Some short answer questions have multiple parts

Math/Quantitative Tests
Work on practice problems for each topic ranging in levels of difficulty
Mix up the order of the questions from various topics when you are reviewing so you will learn when to use a specific method/formula
Write down key formulas on the margins of the test
Make estimates
Always show all work
Even if you know the final answer is wrong do not erase your work
Check over your test after you are done
If you have time after the test, recalculate your answers

Resources and Tips

Schedule Individual Tutoring Appointments
Hours/locations of tutor-staffed study centers

On-Line Flash Cards, flash card applications and Learning Games
Video Tutorial Links
Learning Styles, Personality and Career Assessments
On Line Academic Skills Workshops
Writing Assistance
Grammar help
Tone in writing
Math Assistance
Study Strategies Links
(This is where many of resources in this presentation come from)

Get comfortable but alert
Reduce Clutter
Somewhere specific for studying only
Reduce distractions
TV, computer, music?
In your room or in public?
Study groups or independent
Take breaks and switch subjects
Practice identifying thoughts/emotions without judgement
Swap caffeine for cardio


Many times, the inability to focus can be attributed to situational anxiety.

close your eyes.
Take several deep breaths: in through your nose and out through your mouth.
Place the tip of your tongue directly above the backside of your upper teeth - push the top of your tongue up into the roof of your mouth.
This is effective in stimulating cross-lobe integration (and relaxation) in the brain.
Picture a point out in front of you. Focus on that point and project your thoughts there.
Continue breathing and keep focusing on that until you are fully relaxed.
Once you have calmed down, slowly bring the point in front of you closer, reaffirming to yourself that you now know how to focus.
Rules of Thumb
Scattered 1 hour free periods between classes are great for studying
Review your notes/read the text
Short, frequent study sessions and reviews are more effective for improving memory of course work than a few long cramming sessions
Start assignments while your memory of the assignment is still accurate
Double your estimated time of completion
Forget about time: Have down time every day, spend some time in an area free of clocks
Do what works: Personal effectiveness matters more than the means we use to get there

To Do Lists vs Schedules
To do lists
Good for short term or daily goals
Allow you to keep track of everything you need to do
helps prioritize tasks
allows you to check-off completed tasks, which helps to let go of things that don’t need to be adding to mental clutter
Using the techniques provided before, most textbooks have chapters that you can complete in an hour
Read before or after class?
Depends on the class and reading assignment
Articles - What does this even mean??
Broken into parts, read the abstract/intro and summary/discussion

Organizing Group Work
If you disagree, have evidence!
Mini Diplomats
Feedback: Phrase it as a polite question
Be inclusive and assertive - Communicate
Private MIA: That one group member that doesn't do anything
If extreme, communicate with the professor
Captain Bossy: That one group member who wants to do everything
Preparing for and Taking Tests

Procrastination and Focus
Boost your motivation.
Dwell on your strengths
Be able to "check off" that task, let it go when its gone.
accomplishments deserve rewards
Ownership of decisions and tasks
Change "have to" into "choose to" - set your priorities and have faith in them
There's a 10 page paper due tomorrow.. "man, I should really clean my room right now"
How to Stop
Do it now
Prep, plan, and organize
Set yourself up for success; build self-efficacy
See Time Management for more
Break down tasks into manageable bits. Set yourself small and observable goals
read one chapter; write 1 page; find 3 articles for the paper
Work no longer than an hour, take a 15 minute break and then return to work
Make sure you get up, move around, and leave the space where you've been working in during breaks.
Make it Fun.. or tasty
Weekly Schedules
What Do You want to cover?
Write down 3 major specific questions or general areas you would like to work on
Rate them between 1 (least important) to 5 (most important)
How to focus
Taking notes
is there a more efficient method?
Test preparation
Time management
what's the easiest way to keep track of all my assignments and how I use my time?
Reading textbooks
Reading articles
Working in groups
how to deal with conflict?
Muscle Reading Phase 1

Daily Planning
1. Write down a list of all the things you have to do today

2. Number that list worst - best
- So in a list of 1 - 10, studying for chemistry would be 1, and going shopping would be a 10.
- Deal with the things that cause the most anxiety first

3. Write down the amount of time you estimate each task will take
- Make it realistic, it will appear more manageable and as you do it more often it can help establish more accurate estimations
Do everything that lists do, but allows you to visualize how each tasks fits into the context of the day/week/semester which can help to prioritize tasks and adjust your time-frames for completion.

Listen for facts and feelings
summarize, question, confirm you understand their point and purpose
Communicate assertively
State wants and needs in a direct but respectful manner.
Tolerance and respect
Perspective is everything
Focus on the issue
Stay on task, if things are getting frustrating; take a break
Expect the positive
Self-fulfilling prophecy
Get everyone's weekly schedule, so you can all know when works best for group meetings
Distribution of Work
Agree on the fundamentals then break it into parts, assign one part per group member
This is our topic, what does this mean to you?
Decide when to have each part complete
decide when to meet again to go check progress
Varying Speeds
Pivotal Words Handout
Muscle Reading Phase 3
Before you read
1. Preview
5-10 minutes - Read headings, note summary statements, and pick out familiar terms. Create context.
2. Outline
Take a moment to study the outline of the chapter if one is provided. Create a mental structure to the information you are about to read - fit it into a context.
3. Question
Turn titles, subtitles, and headings into questions
"Transference and Suggestion"
What are they? How does transference relate to suggestion?
While you read:
1. Reflect
What do you already know about the topic? How does this new information fit?
2. Underline
Mark it up!
3. Answer
Find and write down the answers to questions you had from step 1
After you Read:
Summarize, say it out-loud!
24 hours later, spend at least 15 minutes reviewing the material, cleaning up notes, clarifying information
Review Again
Go over notes, chapter highlights, etc. before assignments/exams

Procrastination is a technique we use to cope with performance anxiety. It allows us to attribute perceived failures to a lack of time instead of a lack of ability.
"I got a C on that research project, which is pretty good considering I only worked on it for two days. I would have gotten an A with more time"
Procrastination serves as an "inoculation" behavior
Emotional inoculation vs problem inoculation
This is a learned behavior, and it can be unlearned!

Communicating with Professors
Handling Criticism
1. Acknowledge

Say "You're right", paraphrase, thank and apologize or explain reasoning if appropriate

2. Disarm

Diffuse the situation without directly agreeing

Criticism: "You're such a slob, you never clean up after yourself"
Response: "You're right, I did forget to do the dishes yesterday"

3. Probe

Get more information - when, where, how, who, and why?

TED Talks
Search: David McCandless
"Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape."
Activity paired with the video:
Full transcript