As you make your own preparations for the end of the term, your students’ push to study for final examinations, complete research papers, and wrap up final projects is also underway.

Even with all your own activities on your mind, you may often stop to wonder what students are thinking and doing at this critical juncture. As part of Cengage Learning’s Student Case Study program, we asked our college student audience a few questions about their study habits. Below, we’ve shared some of the results; see if any of their responses surprise you, or if they align with your general knowledge, understanding, and experience of students’ habits in your own courses.

What course materials do you use to help you study? Select all that apply.

Out of the survey’s forty-nine respondents, 92% indicated that they use the printed textbook; as a point of comparison, 18% stated that they use the course text in eBook format. Class notes also play a vital role in students’ study behaviors: 92% indicated that they rely on their own class notes, and 86% use notes provided by their instructors. Online resources play a role as well: 51% use access to their courses’ online homework or class system, and 31% use an instructor’s course website. Nearly half of the respondents use supplementary material such as study guides, workbooks, or lab manuals. However, only 20% of those students polled find class-specific tools (such as medical/dental equipment, art supplies, or drawing software) helpful; perhaps this also has to do with their relevance to or availability for the classes they’re taking. Responses in the “Other” category (6%) included note cards and YouTube videos.


Which of the following best describes your study habits in preparation for a test?

Good news! Nearly 60% of our respondents indicated that they begin studying two or more days before a test; and 35% study the day or night before a test. Only two percent indicated that they study the day of the test… or that they don’t study at all.

Tips for building healthy study habits

No matter their study habits—stellar, or in need of improvement—most students appreciate extra guidance that will help them on their paths to success. We’ve posted a number of articles that can point them towards the study skills that will help them succeed; if your students are seeking direction that can help them overcome their challenges, share or discuss the following with them.

Do they need to identify ways to…

  • Prepare for and take tests with greater confidence? Share our test-taking strategies.
  • Ensure their projects and essays are in top shape before they submit them? Share our suggestions for proofreading their papers.
  • Complete their reading assignments with maximum effectiveness? Share our tips on how to read a textbook.
  • Overcome a tendency towards putting things off until the last minute? Share our tips for tackling time-wasters and avoiding procrastination.
  • Make it through finals week, while avoiding burnout? Share our top tips for getting rest while managing all they need to accomplish at this important point in the term. 


What are your students’ study habits? Do these results square with your experiences? Share your feedback below.