Concept Mapping

A concept map is a diagram showing the relationships among concepts.Each concept is usually represented by a shape, such as a box or a circle, that is connected to other concepts with arrows. Concept maps can be used for organizing and representing knowledge. You can use concept mapping techniques in taking class or reading notes and during the process of writing a paper.

Quick Tips

  • Draw a concept map of everything you remember after a class. This reorganization of the material will help you remember what you learned that day.

  • Without looking at your notes, develop a concept map when you are studying for a quiz or exam. If you have difficulties developing a concept map for a particular concept, go back and review your notes and then try it again.

  • Draw a concept map when you are trying to develop an essay, paper or project. Concept mapping can spark creativity and help you generate new ideas

Do you want to learn more about concept mapping?  If so, watch this You Tube video to review a creation of mind map (aka a concept map). To watch this video with captions, click on the CC button.  Please note, YouTube Translations is still in beta testing.

Explore these free concept mapping tools:

Learn more about >>
Learn more about CMAP >>

Learn more about FreeMind >>

Learning and the Brain

Do you know what researchers have discovered about learning and the brain? Check out the following links to discover more about your amazing brain. Understanding the basic biology of your brain is an important step in developing the most effective approaches for studying.

So, how does memory work?  Watch this You Tube video to find out the answer to this question. To watch this video with captions, click on the CC button.  Please note, YouTube Translations is still in beta testing.

Quick Tips

  • When you learn, you are actually growing dendrites between the neurons in your brain. To learn content well and keep those new dendrites, you have to use the content on a regular basis.

  • Try studying frequently, even in 5-10 minute slots throughout the day.This approach will decrease the need for marathon study sessions to prepare for exams.

  • Research suggests that students forget about 75% of a lecture after only 24 hours. Try reviewing your notes after class each day to help increase what you remember.

Check out the following websites to learn more about the biology of learning:

Brain Fitness Channel >>
The Brain Connection >>

Brain Rules >>
Genes to Cognition >>

Lumosity >>

Math and Science

Here is a list of online resources that may be helpful to you in the areas of Math and Science.

  • Do-It Math Lesson from Washington University provides on-line lessons that are designed to help those who may be having difficulty in mathematics.  Learn more about Do-It >>

  • Hippocampus is a free website offering online lesson in number of subject areas. Be sure to check out their resources for Physics and Chemistry.  Learn more about Hippocampus >>

  • Math Trax is a graphing utility developed by NASA for creating graphs of equations or physics data. It has special features that enable it to be accessible to those with visual impairments as well.  Learn more about Math Trax >>

  • Michigan State University's Learning Resource Center offers science resources in the Anatomy, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Organic Chemistry.  Learn more about the Learning Resource Center >>

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Open Course Ware offers many engineering, math and science resources.  Learn more about the Open Course Ware >>

  • The Khan Academy is a not-for-profit organization that provides resource and video clips in numerous math and science subject areas.  Learn more about the Khan Academy. >


Taking meaningful class notes is a critical skill for strategic learning in college. Read on to learn more about note-taking and our tips to get the most out of your notes.

Quick Tips

  • Develop a note-taking system. It doesn't matter what your system is as long as it is meaningful to you. Consider creating a standard structure and using a consistent set of abbreviations.

  • Be sure the date of each class is in your notes. This strategy will help you identify material quickly when you are alone studying or working with a study partner.

  • Go back to your notes after class and elaborate on the content, adding headings or questions, to make your notes more meaningful to you.

  • If you are not using your notes as a tool to reinforce your learning,you might be missing out on the real benefit of the note-taking process. After class, review your notes quickly, even if it's just for 5-10 minutes later that day. This approach will help solidify the content that you learned in class that day.

Check out the following websites to learn more about the note-taking:

Learn more about the Academic Skills Center at Dartmouth >>
Learn more about the Student Academic Resource Center at the University of Central Florida >>


Reading is a huge part of college learning and standard textbooks are apart of many classes.  Consider and adapt these strategies to plan your time with your textbooks and learn the most from them.

Quick Tips

  • Identify the best time/s of day and the best environment/s for you to read.

  • Read in short bursts--anywhere between 10-45 minutes, then take a short break. Find out what length of time works best for you. Remember that this may differ for different kinds of reading.

  • Monitor your comprehension. After you read a small section, summarize what you have learned in your head, in your notes, or with a study partner.

  • Consider audio version to text.  You will be able to listen as you read along and take notes.

PQ4R Reading Strategies

Picture yourself sitting at your desk, with an open book in your hands.  Your eyes are open and it looks as if you're reading.  Suddenly your head jerks ups.  You blink.  You realize your eyes have been scanning the page for 10 minutes and you have no idea what you just read.

The PQ4R Reading Technique helps make reading more meaningful and active.  It can help you avoid mental vacations and reduce the number of unscheduled naps during a study time, even after a long day.  This technique is away to decrease effort and struggle by increasing energy and skill.  Once you learn it, you can actually spend less time on reading and get more out of it. This technique may look like more work at first, however, effective reading is active and energy is not reading just to read.

Preview or quickly skim the section for cues to content and organization before you actually begin to read. Do this by noting the title,major headings and subheadings, topic sentences, words or statements in italics or boldface, etc.  This step should take only a few minutes to complete.

Question what you should know when you have finished reading the material. This gives your reading purpose and makes you an active participant in the reading process by arousing your interest and curiosity about the material. Do this by turning the first heading in the chapter or section into a question.

Read through the section and focus in on finding the answers to your questions, but read only to the end of the first section. Read until you understand what the author is saying in the section.

Recite to yourself or aloud the concepts you have just read.Try to do this without referring or looking back to your book. If you understand the material you should be able to do this step with little trouble.This is your comprehension monitor. If you do not understand the material, ask yourself why.  Is it the vocabulary,distractions, lack of background, etc.

Re-read the section until you are able to recite the concepts with understanding.

"Rite"- Underline,highlight, or outline those sentences or parts of sentences which answer your questions-these are the main ideas. Underline definitions, support¬ing details,and key ideas that you feel might appear on a test. Underline important signal words that might help you understand the passage. When finished, read your under linings to see if it makes. Now repeat the above steps for the next section. Develop a system for marking your textbook that is consistent and easy to use. You should not underline any text the first time you read.

Review when you finish reading a section, go back to the beginning and look at your markings. Make sure you have included all relevant information.  Review the questions you asked and give the answers.  If you have done a thorough job, you should not need to reread the entire chapter again when you prepare for an exam.

Download a print friendly version of the PQ4R Reading Strategy (PDF) >>

Other tips for reading:

  • Read the summary in the back of the book first

  • Read it again

  • Look for essential words

  • Read it aloud

  • Stand up and move around when reading

  • Pretend you understand it and try to explain to someone or write it down.  You might be surprised how much you know.

Stress Management

Managing stress levels is an ongoing challenge in college. Be sure to check out the campus resources available to you or explore other online resources like those below.

So, what does stress do to our brains?  Watch this YouTube video to find out the answer to this question.  To watch this video with captions, click on the CC button.  Please note, YouTube Translations is still in beta testing.

Campus Resources

Learn more about the Counseling Center >>

Learn more about Community Wellness >>

Online Resources

Sleep Sounds provides a web interface to customize relaxing sounds.  These sounds are great for relaxing, meditation and sleeping. 

Check out Sleep Sounds >>

Trying to de-stress? If so, the Test Anxiety Guru provides a short relaxation walk-through. 

Visit Test Anxiety Guru >>

Looking for stress management resources for your Ipod or MP3 player?
Learn more about the University of Austin Texas's digital resources>>

Learn more about the George Washington University's podcast >>

Looking for more relaxation techniques?

Check out the resources available at Kansas State University.  Learn more about Kansas State University >>

Study Goals

Creating and achieving study goals can help you stay focused while studying.

Creating Study Goals

  • Break large projects or assignments into small, manageable tasks. Spread the small tasks out over several days.

  • Set a definite objective for each study session. Make the goal reasonable so you can accomplish it. It's better to set an achievable goal than to set an unreasonable goal that cannot be met.

  • Do enjoyable things after study sessions instead of before. This will help establish good motivation to keep working.

  • Know what times you are most productive and study then.

  • Relax, take study breaks, or do easy study tasks at low-energy times.

Achieving Your Study Goals

  • Be thoughtful when you select your space/s for studying.  Download our Space Assessment and Tips now (Word document) >>

  • Find a space/s on campus that you will use specifically for studying.

  • Minimize internal distractions. Write down ideas or tasks that come to mind during studying so you don't forget them, then set them aside and refocus on your studying.

  • Find something in each class that interests you so you are motivated to study.

  • Attend a Supplemental Instruction or Tutoring on a regular basis.  Check out our Learning Support Guide now >>

Try this easy to use free goal setting module online from Kids Health Organization >>

Test Preparation and Test-Taking

Like it or not, tests and quizzes are part of college life. Review the following tips and strategies for preparing and taking exams. 

Download our seven traps to studying (opens a PDF) >>
Download our suggestions of 5 ways to study less (opens a PDF) >>

Quick Tips

The Eight Day Study Plan
This is basic guideline for gearing up for a major exam review.  This is only an outline, so adapt as needed. 

Day 8

  • Find any old tests available.

  • Detect what material you will be responsible for on the test.

  • Divide the material into four equal parts: A, B, C, D.

  • Allow time to plan this to the best of your ability.

Day 7

  • Thoroughly review all material in Part A.

  • Create a study guide using your notes and text book.  Put the content in your own words.

  • Identify main points within this area. Draw visual aids for clarity.  For example, try a concept map to visualize ideas or relationships.

  • Ask yourself questions about the material and quiz yourself.

  • If you have any problems with the material, see your instructor.

  • If tutoring is available, take your questions to the Tutor to discuss. 

Day 6
Repeat instructions for Day 7, this time reviewing Part B.

Day 5
Repeat for Part C.

Day 4
Repeat for part D.

Day 3
Review Parts A, B - folly. 

Day 2
Review ALL Parts C, D-folly.                                                                                          

    Day 1
    Review All Parts A, B, C ,D. Pay special attention to problem areas.

      Test Day

      Download a print friendly version of the Eight Day Study Plan (PDF) >>

      Explore more test preparation and test taking resources:
      Learn more about the Academic Skills Center at Dartmouth >>
      Learn more about the Student Academic Resource Center at the University of Central Florida >>
      Learn more about George Washington University's study skills podcasts>>
      Learn more about Spark Notes >>
      Learn more about YoYoBrain >>

      Time Management and Organization

      Developing an effective time management or organizational (aka self-management) system may be one of the most important strategies for reaching your goals in college. It doesn't matter what your system is as long as it works for you. Try the following resources to assist you in the never ending challenge of managing yourself and negotiating your time.

      Quick Tips

      • Use some type of calendar or planner. Include your classes, times to study throughout the day, etc. 

      • Write your assignments and due dates on your calendar or planner.

      • Make a daily To Do List for each day, and then prioritize the items on your list using numbers.

      • Break large assignments or tasks into smaller steps and set deadlines for each step.

      Download our Planning Schedule for an hourly schedule (opens a PDF file) >>

      Check out the following websites to learn more about the time management or organization:

      Learn more about Study Guides and Strategies website >>
      Learn more about the University of Minnesota Assignment Calculator>>

      Visual, Aural, Read/Write and Kinesthetic Learning

      Humans are sensory beings and we perceive the world around us (and learn) through our senses.  Our senses allow us to take in information in many different ways. This page defines visual, aural, read/write and kinesthetic learning based on the VARK assessment.  They help describe how our senses take in information and process it. 

      Visual learning includes the use of maps, spider diagrams, charts, graphs, flow charts, labeled diagrams, and all the symbolic arrows, circles, hierarchies and other devices. Essentially it is the representation of content in something other than words. It can include movies, videos or Power Point.

      Aural learning relates to what is heard or spoken such as lectures, tutorials, tapes, group discussion, using mobile phones, speaking, web chat and talking things through. It includes talking out loud as well as talking to yourself.

      Read/write learning relates to information displayed as word, e.g. lists, heading, dictionaries, glossaries, definitions, handouts, textbooks, reading-library, notes (often verbatim), etc. This approach emphasizes text-based input and output - reading and writing in all its forms and is frequently represented with Power Point, the Internet, and words, words, words.

      Kinesthetic learning involves real or simulated experiences and practices. Suggestions include using all your senses, demonstrations, simulations, videos, movies, laboratory experiences, field trips, examples, hands-on approaches etc. Movement is good for all learners.  So, don't forget to integrate these strategies. 

      Take the VARK Assessment now to explore these approaches more >>
      Review our suggestions for technologies that support learning >>
      Discover 100 helpful web tools for every type of learning >>

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