- By Jason Bacot
- Published 12/28/2010
Of course you should follow your instructor’s directions about how to write essay papers for class, and you know not to procrastinate and to edit and proofread thoroughly. But there are some general academic skills that will help you achieve the right mindset to put forth your best effort, and these will help you improve your chances of turning in top essay papers. 1. When it’s study time, study. Don’t check your email, make a grocery list, or have the television on. Study, but then reward yourself with a short break every hour to do a couple of fun or non-study related things for 10 minutes. If you have a loud roommate, go to the library. Make sure you take meal breaks, because if your blood sugar drops too much, you won’t study effectively. 2. When making your personal schedule, include time for other things. That way you know you’ll spend a certain chunk of time studying, and another chunk of time doing something else. Schedule extra time for larger class projects (like essay papers). 3. Attend classes regularly. At each class, take out your notes from last time and do a quick review. Then look at the syllabus to see where you’re supposed to go next. This helps you tie together class content across the entire term. 4. When you study, tackle the hard stuff first.
5. But don’t beat your head against the wall if you’re stuck on something. If you just can’t wrap your head around that passage from Dante, get help. Call your teaching assistant, a fellow st
udent, or someone who’s had the class. If you’re still stuck, move on and come back to it later, or you won’t get anything done. 6. Have at least one student in each class that you’re comfortable talking to. That way if you have to miss class, you know you can call that person and find out what you missed so you won’t get behind. Also, get to know your instructors. They’ll appreciate that you’re interested in their class, and most are happy to help you if you’re struggling with a concept. 7. The best way to undercut your grades is to procrastinate. While you might actually do some serious studying and learning the night before the final, you probably won’t do nearly as well as you would have if you had done some regular, halfway decent studying throughout the term. 8. If you totally flub a quiz or test during the term, ask your instructor or teaching assistant where you went wrong, and what you can do next time to improve your grade. It’s entirely possible you misunderstood an instruction, and once it’s clarified, you’ll know what to do (or not do) next time. 9. Don’t forget that you’re a human and not a machine. Your down time is important too. Not only will you be a more well-rounded individual if you make the time for some of the things you enjoy doing, but studies have shown that good study time followed by doing something else can actually reinforce learning better than continually trying to cram knowledge into your brain.
Make sure you have a good overall approach to studying and you’ll be better prepared for the essays, special projects, and big exams you face in college.