Quality of studying is more important than quantity of studying (but if you need to study more, see both the Time Management" and "Motivation" sections of this site).
The following links will help improve the quality of your studying:
Seek Feedback From Others and Seek Forgiveness From Yourself: Although you may not want to revisit exams or papers on which you did poorly, you can't improve if you don't know what you did wrong.
If you can't figure out what you did wrong on your own, go over the assignment with a classmate, tutor, or your professor. Don't be embarrassed and don't
punish yourself for having done poorly. Instead, forgive yourself, and give yourself credit for being brave enough to try to learn from your mistakes.
Write down the important points. Come to class having an idea of what the important points are by taking practice quizzes and by reading the chapter summary. During class, write down points that the professor repeats, writes on the board,
speaks more loudly when making, pauses after stating, or announces by saying something like "this is important", "put this in your notes, or "this will be on the test.
Identify gaps and errors and then fill in gaps and correct errors. For some points, you may have left out information or left out an example that you need to make the point clear. Reviewing your notes soon after class to see what makes sense and what doesn't
will help you identify those gaps. Consulting the book and classmates will help you fill in those gaps. Looking at classmates' notes will also help you see what points you missed completely and what you may have misunderstood or written down incorrectly.
Revise your notes so that you can see connections between ideas. It should be clear what the "headlines" (main points) are, what "subheadings" fit under those headings, and what are "bullet points" that provide examples and details.
Usually, the best way to make these connections clear is by the converting lines of text in your notes into tables,
diagrams, concept maps, or outlines.
It should also be clear what the key similarities and differences between concepts are--making tables might be the best way to do that.
Have a way to test yourself over your notes. Testing yourself over your notes is very easy if you use the
Time management is a strong predictor of grades. Time management means not only having a daily "to-do" list but also knowing what you need to do in the next four weeks.
To manage your time, you will probably need an academic planner/calendar (order one here or
here). Without a planner/calendar, you will probably be constantly falling
behind because you will (a) tend to
greatly underestimate how long things will take, (b) put off things
that are important but not due immediately, (c) devote all your energy to the things that are due immediately for one class while
not doing the work you should be doing for all your other classes, and (d) be surprised by test dates and assignment due dates. To make good use of your planner,
Immediately fill it in with information from your syllabi. Moving tasks from your syllabus or from your memory to a to-do list
will greatly improve your efficiency--and moving information from a to-do list to your calendar will provide another
big boost to your productivity.
Break down big projects into smaller tasks and set self-imposed deadlines for those smaller tasks.
Realize, for example, that "writing a paper" involves more than sitting down and writing a paper. You will probably
need to find sources, read those sources, take notes on those sources, add those sources to your bibliography/references list,
outline the paper, write several drafts of your paper, and proof your final draft.
Schedule little tasks (like going over flashcards) for breaks between classes so that gaps between classes aren't wasted.
Instead of--or in addition to a planner--you may wish to use one of the apps below:
Workflowy (the analogy they
use is that you can put your whole brain on one piece of paper and still
find everything you want)
Google's Gmail (for a to do list, just select
"tasks" under the "Mail" drop down menu)
Google calendar (for
longer term projects). You can set several reminder alerts to be texted or
emailed to you before the due date (for an example, see this
Understand the law of diminishing returns: It is important to socialize with friends. However, most days, the first hour spent hanging out
provides the most benefits to both you and to your friends. The second hour provides fewer benefits than the first, and the the third provides still fewer benefits.
By leaving your friends after an hour to go study rather than hanging out with them all night, you still maintain connection with them (indeed,your connection might improve given that
research suggests people wish their conversations with others were shorter), and you can get more school work done. In addition, you will be more able to free up time to be with friends when they really need you.
Apply the Premack principle: Reward yourself for studying by doing things you like to do (e.g., socializing, watching movies) after you have studied.
One of the worst things students do to their academic progress is that they don't drop a course that they are not ready for.
Do not drop a class without first consulting with your advisor and, if you are on financial aid, without consulting with your financial aid office.
Do not drop a course merely because you think it will put your GPA below some level that you have set--unless the grade will disqualify you for a scholarship
or you are flunking the course. One grade will probably not have a big effect on your overall GPA--and your overall GPA will probably not have any effect on
your life after college. Few employers care about how many times you were on the Dean's List, whether
you graduated with honors, or even what your GPA was. Graduate schools do, of course, look at grades, but many put more emphasis on your GPA for your last 2
years than your first few years. So, your grades in introductory courses will probably not be important. Indeed, there are so many famous psychologists who did
not do well in General Psychology that some have suggested (jokingly???) that
getting an "A" in General Psychology ends any chance of one becoming a famous psychologist.