Disabled Students Programs & Services at College of San Mateo - Student Resource Guide - Strategies & Techniques
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Disability Resource Center (DRC)

Graduate with DiplomaStudent Resource Guide - Strategies & Techniques

Effective Learning Strategies

  1. Attend all classes.
  2. Preview new material and review the previous lecture before each class.
  3. Sit toward the front of the class to help eliminate distractions.
  4. Come to class prepared with materials and a positive frame of mind.
  5. If you need to tape record lectures, ask permission of the instructors before you tape their lectures. Take notes while you tape record.
  6. Review tapes and/or notes within 24 hours of class.
  7. Study with others.
  8. Meet with your instructor if you are having difficulty.
  9. Use a computer for writing assignments. Use the spell check and grammar check to help you with proofreading.

Time Management Ideas

  1. Keep a master calendar. Make sure it’s large enough to enter assignments, exams, social events and important appointments.
  2. Work backwards from the due date on long-range assignments and build in extra time for setting the project aside to just think about it. Go over this time line with your instructor and ask for feedback on your progress periodically.
  3. Allow 2 hours for homework, studying or reading for each class.
  4. Make sure you have understood an assignment correctly before plunging into it. Schedule an appointment with your instructor for an explanation.  Don’t wait until you have finished the assignment to find out that you have not fulfilled the requirements.
  5. Often, the hardest part of getting your work done on time and keeping up with the workload is getting started on a new assignment. Start by making a commitment of 30 minutes and then lengthen study periods gradually.

Memory Strategies

  1. Learning is synonymous with reviewing and reviewing frequently and regularly throughout the semester is essential.
  2. Color code, enlarge, underline and highlight your notes to strengthen your visual memory of the material.
  3. Copy your notes to facilitate memorizing.
  4. Tape record lectures and listen to them while driving, exercising, eating, etc.
  5. Review frequently and commit material to memory using strategies that aid recall such as listing, categorizing, imaging, visualizing, alphabetizing and devising acronyms and associations.

Test Taking Techniques

No test taking secret or gimmick can substitute for thorough preparation.

  1. Read over entire exam and read all directions.
  2. Ask your instructor to clarify anything you don’t understand.
  3. Do the easy questions first and make reasonable guesses on those you don’t know.
  4. Don’t let test anxiety rule -- learn to use relaxation and breathing techniques.

Objective Tests

  1. Underline key words in each question.
  2. Eliminate obvious wrong answers.
  3. Try to anticipate an answer.
  4. Understand the use of negative words and prefixes.
  5. Insure that the grammatical structure of the question agrees with your answer.

Essay Tests

  1. Read each question carefully and underline key words, e.g., Trace, Critique, Describe.
  2. Use key words from the questions and write notes in the margin as a mini-outline.
  3. Budget your time carefully.
  4. Strive for a well-organized, focused essay.
  5. Be specific -- state the main point.
  6. Provide details and examples and/or statistics.
  7. Use transition words to make your essay coherent.

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