The start of a new school year presents a door of opportunity to college students. If they’re hoping to improve their grades—or, if they’re facing increasingly challenging courses—they may be on the lookout for effective study skills that will help them retain what they’re learning, earn good grades, and feel confident in their ability to achieve their academic goals.

In this video from the online resources for Student Success in College: Doing What Works!, Second Edition, author Dr. Christine Harrington mentions three successful study strategies: retrieval practice; organizing techniques; and group study. Learn why she recommends these high-level study practices, and pass her tips along to your own students!

Students: Make organizing work for you!

In Student Success in College: Doing What Works!, Second Edition, Dr. Harrington goes over a four-step process—”organize, review, test, and teach”—that can help students reinforce what they’ve learned. Below, a summary of her tips:

  1. Organize: Gather all your learning materials (class notes, readings, and so on) to create your own “study guide.” Don’t just copy things down verbatim; take the time to write them out as you’d share or explain them to a friend. Put your critical-thinking skills to work by drawing connections among the various ideas and concepts. Include relevant examples that illustrate key points.
  2. Review: Go over these notes several times. Revisit them over the course of several study sessions.
  3. Test: Give yourself an exam! Create your own quiz, or use ones provided by your instructor or by the publisher of your learning materials. (Many of Cengage Learning’s books are accompanied by quizzes, reviews, and other study tools, available on CengageBrain.)
  4. Teach: Reinforce your knowledge by telling a study partner or friend what you’ve learned. (Harrington, 70)


For additional study tips from Dr. Christine Harrington, read the article: All Study Strategies Are Not Equal: Save Time by Studying Smarter

Share your own top study strategies for students in the comments.

Reference: Harrington, Christine. 2016. Student Success in College: Doing What Works!, 2nd ed. Boston: Cengage Learning.

© 2016 Cengage Learning.