Tips to Improve Your Study Habits

Studying is one of those things like cleaning the gutters; you do it because you benefit even though you’d rather be doing anything else. Here are some tips to improve your study habits.


When studying, the easiest way that you can hurdle formulas, definitions and other concepts that need to be memorized is through mnemonics. It is the most common study skill among college students. Check out this website for more tips on mnemonics.


Making an outline of what you are supposed to study will help you study quickly. The main advantage of reading and writing is you will memorize the key concepts quicker. If you need some help with creating a successful outline, view this post.


Most course books include test exercises and mock quizzes, or you could make one for yourself. The idea here is so that you can gauge how much you have already studied.


Breaks allow your body to recuperate and your brain to digest the information you have studied. Have you heard of saturation? This happens when no matter how hard you try to retain the information you are studying you can’t. You need to take a short break in between study period to allow memory retention.

How to Land an Awesome Internship

College internships are a great way to explore your potential career options after graduating. As an added benefit, many internships have lead directly to careers.

The first step is to locate an internship you’re interested in.

Where to Find a College Internship

  • is rated by Forbes as one of the top 10 best career websites. There are thousands of internships available, all of which you can sort by area or location.
  •      The US Government accepts students and graduates into their internship programs. Learn more here.
  •       If non-profits are your thing, Idealist matches interns up with local organizations.
  •      Intern Abroad is a division of Go Abroad. You can sort opportunities by country or field of study.

Once you find some internships that sound perfect, it’s time to land them. If you totally nail down these areas, you’ll be able to get yourself an internship you love.

How to Land a College Internship

  •       Your resume is the first thing the organization will review. It should be impeccable. Proofread it, have a friend review it, and make sure that it is accurate. Now is not the time to stretch the truth.
  •       Your experience may seem like a deal-breaker, but most organizations are willing to accept an inexperienced intern if they have other unique experiences. You might not have previous job experience in government policy. But, if you’re a member of your student government or president of your sorority or fraternity, you can still have a solid chance. Look closely at all your experiences to determine if they are applicable
  •       Your application. For some competitive internship opportunities, applications can begin months in advance. Make sure you get yours in early, and that it is totally accurate.
  •       Your interview is where you can really shine. Dress appropriately for the position. Prepare for those open-ended interview questions like “What do you want to do with your life?” and “Where do you see yourself in five years.” Your answers don’t have to be lengthy, detailed plans—but they should have a sense of direction and purpose. Don’t just come prepared to answer questions, be ready to ask them. Ask whether the internship focuses on work production or actual learning opportunities, what careers previous interns ended up in, what skills the internship will teach you, and when you should expect to hear back.
  •       Your follow-up. Don’t let your application process end with the interview. If you asked when to follow up in your interview, be sure to give an extra day and then contact the organization. Even if they don’t choose you for that internship, following up can show that you are serious about working for them. This could help you land future internships or jobs.

Cramming 101

At some point during college you’ll be cramming for a test. It’s not the best way to study, but everyone does it eventually. If you must cram for a test, do it the right way.

Here are some tips to get you through your first cram session.

Cramming 101

1. Figure out what you need to know.

This is the most important step. Don’t try to force feed your brain information that isn’t important. If you have a hard time figuring out what your professor will test over, ask someone or go through the book. Most chapters have key facts, a summary, etc. that outlines the most important things.

2. Give yourself enough time.

Cramming works best the night before, but with a good amount of sleep. A foggy brain doesn’t recall well. Plan enough time to cram and enough time to get a decent sleep. Difficult subjects require more cram time.

3. Mood matters.

The Association for Psychological Science says that a good mood allows your brain to think more creatively. Study somewhere free from distractions and irritations, and listen to mood-boosting music.

4. Have a plan.

Before you cram, have a plan. Focus on the cramming the details that you struggle with the most. Do you mostly need to learn vocab? Do you need to learn theories? Do you need to know formulas? Devote the most time to the most important parts.

Cramming Tips


For classes where you need to regurgitate definitions, try creating a matching test at Easy Test Maker. It’s free and is easier and cheaper than flashcards. There’s also flashcard software available if you’d rather do that. Either way, this is a great way to memorize.

Multiple Choice

Most professors have two very possible, one could-be and one completely off choices on multiple choice. By the time you’re in college, you should be very familiar with this format and very good at taking them. So, study important facts, but focus on details. Anything bolded or reiterated in lecture and anything that might be related.


If your professor provides possible essay prompts, take advantage and get all the information you’ll need. Write a short, practice essay outline. Use that to study ahead of time.

If you’re not lucky enough to be given the question ahead of time, you’re in for more work. Learn the big picture and a few things to fill in the lines. Once you have that down, bullshit is your best friend. Don’t make things up, just surround your facts with fluff.

Commonly confused words

The English language is very complicated and there are many sets of similar words that people have trouble with. Are you one of the many that confuse these words?

accept – to receive: “She would not accept my proposal.”
except – all but: “Everyone went except John.”

access – admittance, a way of approach: “No one had access to the room.”
excess – amount larger than needed: “He had an excess of paper.”

accent – particular way of speaking: “She had a New York accent.”
ascent – upward climb: “The mountain has a long ascent.”
assent – to agree: “The teacher assented to accepting a late assignment.”

advice – recommendation: “His advice was to study.”
advise – to make recommendations: “He advised me to study.”

affect (verb) – to influence: “Her actions will affect the rest of us.”
affect (noun) – an emotional response: “Even when his dog died, he showed little affect.”
effect – result: The effect of his good grades helped him get a scholarship.”

alter – to change: “She had to alter her plans.”
altar – platform in a church: “The priest stands at the altar.”

capital – 1) city/town that holds government seat: “Austin is the capital of Texas.”
2) supply of wealth: “You need capital to start a business.”
capitol – 1) U.S. Congress building in Washington D.C.: “You can tour the capitol.”
2) a building where a legislature meets: “You can go to Austin to see the capitol.”

conscience – sense of right or wrong: “Some people seem to have no conscience.”
conscious – aware of: “He made a conscious decision to help us.”

eminent – well known: “He is eminent in the field of psychology.”
imminent – about to happen: “The storm was imminent.”

stationary – unable to move: “I rode the stationary bike.”
stationery – paper for letter writing: “I bought new stationery.”

How to create a successful outline

Few people know how to create a successful outline, and that amazes me.

The first step is to understand the material you’re reading. If you’re simply taking chunks of the chapter, you’re not going to get anywhere. There are two different outlines: research outlines and chapter outlines. I’ll cover both here.

Research outline

Every good research paper should start with a great outline. A great outline serves as the skeleton for your entire paper.

Once you’ve figured out your topic and the general direction of your paper, creating an outline is straightforward. You must thoroughly understand your thesis before completing the outline. If you’re confused or stuck on a thesis, don’t worry about it until the end. Start with the information.

Once you’ve gathered your research, you generally know the idea of what you want to talk about first. If you’re completely lost, choose the idea that would be a great opener – something that’s controversial, interesting or your audience would agree with. To choose what’s next in line, ask yourself, “After idea A, what is an easy transition?” If you’re going from dogs to VCRs, there’s probably not going to be an easy connection. Transitions between different sections can be made very simple if you choose topics that seem to flow well together. Also remember that nothing is set in stone. If later you realize you should have put topic B where topic F is, change it.

Because this article is so long, I’m going to cut it off here and allow you to view the rest of entry if you choose to do so. (more…)

Don’t you dare…in a formal paper

Here’s a list my favorite teacher gave me back in high school. It’s compiled of things that should never be in a formal composition.

Don’t you dare…

  • Use a contraction (don’t, couldn’t, etc.)
  • Use “things” or “stuff”…be specific
  • Use “nice” or “some” – too vague, over used
  • Use “a lot” or worse – “alot”
  • Use “bunch”
  • Use slang
  • Use “this, that, those, these” as pronouns, only use them as adjective before a noun or pronoun
  • Put a comma before “because”
  • Use “different than” – correct usage is “different from”
  • Use “irregardless”- it’s a not real word, use regardless
  • Use “off of”
  • Use “plus” instead of “and”
  • Write in passive voice when your sentence works in active voice.
  • End a sentence with a preposition (to in, at, etc.)

How To Calculate Your GPA

Knowing how to calculate your GPA is essential for college students. Many scholarships require a minimum GPA, as do some programs and internships. But, surprisingly, a lot of students don’t know how to calculate their own GPA.

Your grade point average is an important part of your transcript. I’ve included a tutorial to calculate it manually, but be sure to check out the link at the bottom for a super easy to use calculator.  

How to Calculate Your GPA

To calculate your GPA you’ll need to know your average and the weight/credit (number of hours) for each class. You get a certain number of grade points for each class, depending on your grade. Points are awarded according to the chart below.
A=4 points
B=3 points
C=2 points
D=1 point
W/F = 0 points

Multiply the grade points by the weight of the class. For example, if your biology class is 4 hours and you made a B, you get 12 points for that class. Find all the points for every class and add them up. Then add up the total hours of all classes. To find your GPA, you divide total grade points by total number of hours

Here’s an example transcript:

Class Grade Hours Points Grade Points
Biology A 4 4 16
English B 3 3 9
Calculus C 4 2 8
Economics A 3 4 12
Speech A 2 4 8
16 53

3.3125 = 53 / 16 –> This student has a B.

GPA Calculators

If that’s just too complicated, time-consuming, or you’re lazy (like me); here’s a GPA calculator for you provided by Back2College. It makes everything wonderfully simple.

Another great calculator is this one, provided by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education.

How to Raise Your GPA

If your GPA is looking less-than-stellar, there is still hope! This handy calculator helps you determine how you can raise your GPA in college.

The best way to keep your GPA up is to know your GPA! If you are always aware of your grades, you don’t risk getting a particularly low one that will have the nasty effect of majorly dropping your cumulative GPA.

How to Write a Great Research Paper

You will have a research paper assignment in college. It’s inevitable. And, as tedious as they are, they teach you a lot about how to find reliable sources of information.

Since there is no escaping them, I have created a short list to help you successfully complete your first research paper.

Most professors require you to use scholarly, peer-reviewed articles as the basis for your research. Yes, they are as boring as they sound. Your best bet is to start with the abstract, which most of them have. If you can sit through that, you can sit through the rest of the article. Read it in chunks. A few pages at a time, highlighting important information so you don’t ever have to read it again.

Save the article for your citations now. Citation Machine is your friend, your hero and your savior. Choose the format (MLA, APA, Chicago or Turabian) and input the information. BOOM. Citation complete.

Tips for College Research

  • Read the abstract or summary first
  • Read in chunks, taking breaks
  • Highlight
  • Bookmark the article
  • Make your citations now and keep a running bibliography

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