How to Study Effectively

Build good study habits to create success

The three requirements for effective studying

  • Create favorable conditions.
  • Generate a positive attitude.
  • Develop good techniques.

Take control

Create favorable conditions.

  • Plan to study specific times each week. Use a calendar.
  • Break up times as much as possible; an hour here, an hour there.
  • Choose a location where you can concentrate.
  • Loud music or any TV reduces effectiveness.

Make it enjoyable

Generate a positive attitude.

  • Ask questions to be an active learner and to generate interest.
  • Make the subject meaningful to you in some way.
  • Reward yourself after each study segment; use breaks, food, walks, music.

Develop good habits

Develop good techniques

  • Use the SQR3 method for reading non-math textbooks. Survey, Question, Read, Recite and Review.
  • Use the PRESP method for reading math and science texts. Preview, Read, Examples, Summarize and Problems.
  • Use repetition to increase remembering. Review summary sheets and chapters weekly. For intensive memorization, create flash cards and practice often.
  • Create associations, analogies and metaphors to relate new ideas to what you already know and to improve understanding.

Dealing with the 3 Major Study Problems


Procrastination feeds on itself. The trick is to get started quickly. If necessary, fool yourself. Plan to work for just a few minutes, then get back to procrastination. Try thumbing through the chapter to build interest, before really studying, or read the introduction. Generate exam-type questions with classmates. Use a schedule. Work for short periods. Think positive.


Reduce or remove external distractions. Use paper and pencil to transfer internal distractions to a list. Try talking about the subject with yourself. Or try imagining the author or teacher sitting with you. Ask them questions. What is most important? Why? Let the book answer the questions. Study with others or see a tutor.


Plan to work shorter periods. Switch subject matter more often. Try to develop interest by using a pencil and scratch paper to sketch the 3 most important ideas. Vocalize, visualize and symbolize to engage ail of your brain. Study with others or see a tutor. Ask the teacher why the subject is important.

From How to Be a Successful Student, Donald Martin, c 1988.

Academic Resource Center Hours

Fall & Spring semesters:
8:30 am–7 pm
Friday, 8:30 am–4:30 pm

Summer term:
Monday, Thursday, & Friday.
8:30 am - 4:30 pm
Tuesday - Wednesday
8:30 am - 7 pm

Academic Resource Center

40 Loretto Hall
470 E. Lockwood Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63119