Mobile Navigation Menu Icon. 3 horizontal gold bars.

The Tutoring Center

North Foundation Hall, Room 103
318 Meadow Brook Road
Rochester, MI 48309-4454
(location map)
(248) 370-4215

Tutoring Hours:
Online tutoring is available starting at 9 a.m.

The Tutoring Center

North Foundation Hall, Room 103
318 Meadow Brook Road
Rochester, MI 48309-4454
(location map)
(248) 370-4215

Tutoring Hours:
Online tutoring is available starting at 9 a.m.

woman's finger pointing to a line in an open book

Study Strategies

The following study strategies are general tips for success, applicable to all degrees and majors.

8 Principles of Effective Time Management
  1. Use peak periods of concentration and study difficulty first.
  2. Include time for review of previously learned material along with short breaks in your study time.
  3. Schedule study time for a particular course close to the time when you attend class.
  4. Study when and where your surroundings are more conducive to learning.
  5. Be generous when estimating time needed to complete assignments.
  6. Plan carefully to eliminate worry and frustration.
  7. Leave room for fun and relaxation.
  8. Don’t shortchange yourself on sleep or healthful and relaxing meals.
Common Time Traps for College Students
  1. Avoid spending time making small decisions.
  2. Don’t let friends and classmates direct your time.
  3. Don't waste time worrying or feeling guilty about not studying.
  4. Handle details of living in efficient ways.
Identifying Your Priorities
  1. Rank the following pursuits in order of their importance to you. In the left-hand column, write 1 beside the most important, 2 beside the second most important and so on. Next under "Estimated Hours," record the amount of time per week you believe you spend at this pursuit.
  2. Monitor the amount of time you spend at each pursuit over the course of one week and record the totals under "Actual Hours." Be honest! Compare your estimates with the actual figures. Are there any important differences?
  3. Are there any other areas that you want to devote more time to? What can you cut down on? Remember, there are 168 hours in a week.



Est. Hours

Actual Hours


Class Attendance








Time with Family








Personal Hygiene
















Required Reading








Time with Significant Other




















Watching TV




Volunteer Service















Time Management Tips

© Adapted from A. Lakein. How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life and © Academic Skills Center at Dartmouth College 2001

  1. Reward yourself when you get assignments/tasks done as you had planned, especially the important ones.
  2. Ask for advice when needed.
  3. When you catch yourself procrastinating, ask yourself "What am I avoiding?" Concentrate on one thing at a time.
  4. Catch yourself when you are involved in unproductive projects and stop as soon as you can.
  5. Try to use waiting time to review notes or do practice problems.
  6. Always keep your long-term goals in mind. Delegate responsibilities whenever possible.
  7. Count all your time as time used and make every attempt to get satisfaction out of events.
  8. Think on paper when possible, it makes it easier to review and revise.
  9. Have confidence in yourself and in your judgment of priorities. Stick to them no matter what.
  10. Start with the most difficult parts of projects.
  11. Find time to concentrate on high priority items or activities.
  12. Put your efforts in areas that provide long term benefits.
  13. Push yourself to be persistent, especially when you know you are doing well.
  14. Remind yourself, "There is always enough time for the important things".
  15. Maintain and develop a list of specific things to be done each day.
  16. Continually look at ways of freeing up your time.
  17. Keep paper or a calendar with you to jot down the things you have to do or to write notes to yourself.
Critical Thought

To be early is to be on time.

To be on time is to be late.

To be late is a waste of a good time.

How Long Do I Need to Study?

4 credits = 4 hours in class every week
Study Time = 2 hours for every hour in class


  • One 4-Credit Class = 4 hours in class per week + 8 study hours per week = 12-hour credit course per week
  • One 16-Credit Class = 16 hours in class per week + 32 study hours per week = 48-hour credit course per week
Listening Skills
  1. Anticipate What is to Follow: A good lecturer provides clues about their organization. Careful listeners are able to predict what topics will be discussed next.
  2. Stick with the Lecture: When a lecture becomes confusing, complicated or technical it is tempting to tune it out. Instead resist this temptation by taking detailed notes. This will also help you avoid confusion when reviewing your notes.
  3. Stay Active by Asking Questions: Keep your attention focused on the lecture by asking yourself and the instructor questions. For instance, try to determine the key points or how the lecture is organized.
  4. Focus on Content, Not Delivery: Disregard personal characteristics such as an annoying laugh or overused expressions.
  5. Tune In: Focus your attention on the lecture or presentation before it begins. Recall what you know about the topic. Review related reading assignments while you are waiting for the lecture to begin.
  6. Listen Carefully to the Speaker’s Opening Comments: The speaker may establish connections with prior lectures, identify their purpose or describe the lecture's content or organization.
  7. Maintain Eye Contact with the Lecturer: except when writing notes, this improves communication, makes it easier for you to be involved with, and interested in the lecture.
  8. Focus on Ideas, Not Facts: Listen for ideas, trends and patterns.
Improving Your Memory

Making an Effort to Remember

  • Interest - In order to remember something thoroughly, you must be interested in You must have a reason to learn it.
  • Intent to Remember has much to do with whether you remember something or A key factor to remembering is having a positive attitude that you will remember.
  • Basic Background -- Your understanding of new material depends to a great degree on how much you already know about the The more you increase your basic knowledge, the easier it is to build new knowledge on this background.

Controlling the Amount and Form

  • Selectivity -- You must determine what is most important and select those parts to study and learn.
  • Meaningful Organization -- You can learn and remember better if you can group ideas into meaningful categories or groups.

Strengthening Neural Connections

  • Recitation--Saying ideas aloud in your own words is probably the most powerful tool you have to transfer information from short-term to long-term memory.
  • Mental Visualization--Another powerful memory principle is making a mental picture of what needs to be remembered. By visualizing, you use an entirely different part of the brain than you did by reading or listening.
  • Association--Memory is increased when facts to be learned are associated with something familiar to you.

Giving Time for Connections to Set

  • Consolidation--Your brain must have time for new information to soak in. When you make a list or review your notes right after class, you are using the principle of consolidation.
  • Distributed Practice--A series of shorter study sessions distributed over several days is preferable to fewer but longer study sessions.
SQR3: Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review

SURVEY: Gather information necessary to focus and formulate goals.

  1. Determine the structure, organization, or plan of the l Details should be noted because of their relationship to the "big picture".
  2. Think about the title-based on the titles speculate what the lesson will include, then help your mind prepare to receive the subject at hand.
  3. Read the introduction/summary-recognize the author's purposes and important statements.
  4. Notice each boldface heading and subheading-determine how each will fit into the lesson.
  5. Finally, look over any graphics, charts, maps, or diagrams.

QUESTION: Help your mind engage and concentrate.

  1. One section at a time, turn the boldface heading into as many questions as you can think will be answered in that question.
  2. Write them down. The better the question the better you will comprehend the material; you can always add further questions as you go along.
  3. When your mind is actively searching for answers to questions, it becomes engaged in learning.

READ: Fill in information around the mental structures you have been building.

  1. Read each section (one at a time) with your questions in
  2. Be quick.
  3. Sort out ideas and relate them to each other and the theme of the l
  4. Look for the answers, and decide if you need to make up some new questions.


  1. Retrain your mind to concentrate and learn as it reads.
  2. Read each section, then stop, recall your questions, and see if you can answer them from memory a
  3. If not, look back again but do not go to the next section until you have learned the


  1. When you have finished the lesson, read your written questions.
  2. Recite the answers in your own words. If you cannot do it, look over your notes.
  3. Review again a week later.
Reading Textbooks
  1. Ask yourself the following questions:
    1. What should I know when I finish this chapter?
    2. What are the major concepts that I should understand?
    3. What supporting information should I remember on a long-term basis?
    4. What should I be able to do when I finish the chapter?
    5. What background information is essential to perform the required task?
  2. Draw attention to the items you believe are important for success in this course.
  3. Read assignments before the topic is discussed in class. Previewing the text will help you better manage your time and information gathering.
  4. Review charts, graphs, and diagrams. It is important to understand this information.
  5. Formulate questions from textbook headings, vocabulary, and diagrams.
  6. Integrate lecture notes with your readings. Does the information in the text complement or extend the lecture information?
Textbook Activities
  1. Write a study guide for a chapter in the textbook.
  2. Compare two sources of information about the same topic - the text and the lecture. Note information found in both sources as especially im
  3. Preview chapters when you study.
  4. Survey the chapter for several minutes examining what is in the chapter such as key terminology, graphs, charts or examples.
Note-Taking Skills
  1. Attend all lectures.
  2. Date and number your note pages and your handouts. It will help with continuity.
  3. Give yourself plenty of blank spaces in your notes, as well as plenty of room to write. This will allow you to make additional notes, sketch helpful graphics, or write textbook references.
  4. Write in pen, pencil smudges, and use only one side of the paper.
  5. Law-ruled or summary margin paper is helpful with its 3-inch margin on the left side of the page. This sets you up for using the Cornell format of note taking. Write your notes on the right side of the line. After the lecture, use the left margin for key words or phrases, or sample questions when you review the notes.
  6. Take as many notes as you can. If you miss something, leave a space; you may be able to fill in blanks later. Do not stop taking notes if you are confused or if you want to ponder a particular concept. You will have time for that later.
  7. Abbreviations are very helpful. Such as "ext." for extension,"lb." for pound, “min” for minute.
  8. Sit up front where it is easier to hear the lecturer. It is also easier to see the instructor and to catch his or her nonverbal clues.
  9. Listen for clues such as, "This is important", "You'll need to know how to do this". When these clues are given, write them down in your notes in the appropriate spots.
  10. Other clues to watch for are a change in voice, a change in rate of speaking, use of visuals, listing, numbering or prioritizing, and body language.
  11. Include everything that your instructor writes on the board and mark these notes for special attention when you study.
  12. Include everything that your instructor says after glancing at their notes.
  13. Record examples exactly as they are given so you will recognize them if they show up in test questions.
  14. Include all terminology definitions; in many subjects a large portion of test questions directly or indirectly test students' knowledge of terminology.
  15. Take notes until the very end of class. Instructors often rush to cover a great deal of information during the last few minutes of a class.
  16. Always compare the information from the original set of notes with the new set before discarding them, if notes need to be recopied.
Outline Note-Taking Method

Adapted from © Student Academic Services, Academic Skills Center, CALPOLY, 2010

The outline method can be used if the lecture is presented in outline organization.

  1. This may be either deductive (regular outline) or inductive (reverse outline where minor points start building to a major point).
  2. Use this format when there is enough time in the lecture to think about and make organization decisions when they are needed.
  3. This format can be most effective when your note-taking skills are super sharp and you can handle the outlining regardless of the note-taking situation.
  4. Dash or indented outlining is usually best except for some science classes such as physics or math.
  5. The information which is most general begins at the left with each more specific group of facts indented with spaces to the right.
  6. The relationships between the different parts is carried out through indenting. 


  1. General topic
    1. More specific information about 1.
    2. More specific information about 1.
  2. General topic
    1. More Specific information about 2.
      1. More specific information about 2.a.
Cornell Note-Taking Method

Adapted from ©Academic Skills Center, Dartmouth College 2001

This method provides the perfect opportunity for following through with the 5 R's of note-taking. Here they are:

  1. Record. During the lecture, record in the main column as many meaningful facts and ideas as you can. Write legibly.
  2. Reduce. As soon after as possible, summarize these ideas and facts concisely in the Recall Column. Summarizing clarifies meanings and relationships, reinforces continuity, and strengthens memory. Also, it is a way of preparing for examinations gradually and well ahead of time.
  3. Recite. Now cover the column, using only your jottings in the Recall Column as cues or "flags" to help you recall, say over facts and ideas of the lecture as fully as you can, not mechanically, but in your own words and with as much appreciation of the meaning as you can. Then, uncovering your notes, verify what you have said. This procedure helps to transfer the facts and ideas of your long-term memory.
  4. Reflect. Reflective students extract their opinions from their notes. They make such opinions the starting point for their own musings upon the subjects they are studying. Such musings aid them in making sense out of their courses and academic experiences by finding relationships among them. Reflective students continually label and index their experiences and ideas, put them into structures, outlines, summaries, and frames of reference. They rearrange and file them. Best of all, they have an eye for the vital-for the essential.
Concept Map Note-Taking Method

Adapted from © Student Academic Services, Academic Skills Center, CALPOLY, 2010

The mapping method uses comprehension/concentration skills in a note-taking form which relates each fact or idea to every other fact or Idea.

  1. Mapping is a graphic representation of the content of a lecture.
  2. It is a method that maximizes active participation, affords immediate knowledge as to its understanding, and emphasizes critical thinking.
  3. Use it when the lecture content is heavy and well-organized.

May also be used effectively when you have a guest lecturer and have no idea how the lecture is going to be presented.

Concentration Techniques
  1. Analytic Matters: It is necessary to identify which subjects are related to the most serious concentration problems. You may notice that you really do not give yourself a chance with these subjects because of the time, order, or place you use to study. It may also be valuable to answer the questions: What are your motives for studying? What is your reward for your efforts
  2. When to Study
    1. During the day and early evening; you'll remember better.
    2. When there are the fewest competing activities in progress.
    3. When adequate rest periods are provided.
    4. Stop studying when fatigue or lack of attention occurs.
  3. Create a Study Environment
    1. Find a place to study and keep it for study only.
    2. Tool-up the environment with all study needs, such as paper, pencils, etc.
    3. Control noise level and the visual environment to acceptable levels.
  4. Don't try to mix work and play.
  5. Keep a pad of paper handy to jot down extraneous thoughts that cross your mind while studying; get them out of your mind and on to paper.
  6. Set study goals before you begin each period of study (number of pages, number of problems, etc.).
  7. Reward yourself after specified goals are attained.
  8. Break-up the content of study by mixing up subjects and building in variety and interest and removing boredom.
  9. Make the most of rest periods and do something different.
  10. Start with short study periods and build to longer study periods, increasing your concentration.
  11. If necessary, make a calendar of events to clear your mind of distractions.
  12. Realize that you won't lose friends, respect, or a "good time" just because you are studying.
  13. Plan the length of your study period by the amount of material you have decided to cover, not by the clock (often the clock is one of the most serious distracters).
Tips for Studying
  1. Reread your notes and text book.
  2. Study new terminology, definitions, and properties, often set off in boxes in textbooks. Be sure you understand their meaning.
  3. Use end of chapter materials in the textbook, use glossary and chapter summaries.
  4. Do the review exercises and practice tests when you are finished reading. Check your answers and redo any missed problems.
  5. Get help for those concepts you are having difficulty with by talking with your professor, seeing if tutoring is available for your course, and studying with other students in your class.
Tools for Studying
  1. Define your goals: decide what you want to get out of the course.
  2. Purchase all required materials for class.
  4. Know the difference between studying and learning. To study is to master the material; to learn is to gain knowledge or skills.
  5. Set aside study time (2 hours for each hour of class).
  6. Understand your learning style (auditory, visual, or kinesthetic), but adapt to others.
  7. Take advantage of The Tutoring Center’s peer tutoring and Supplemental Instruction sessions, Oakland University Writing Center and library for studying and resources.
Studying for a Math Exam

Tip 1: Copy all theorems, principles, and definitions exactly, without paraphrasing or condensing anything. Also, copy instructor's explanation and draw arrows for each step as the instructor explained.

Tip 2: Rewrite math notes after each class in ink for clarity and permanence.

Tip 3: Rework model problems over and over until you can do them without stopping. Then jump into homework.

Tip 4: Plan to work at least two hours on math homework for every hour of class time. Since you may need to spend 10-12 hours working on math class assignments, set your priorities carefully and take a lighter academic load if possible.

Tip 5: Learn the five R's of math:

  1. Recopy your work
  2. Rework model problems
  3. Recite aloud to explain each step of the problem-solving process
  4. Recheck your work
  5. Test for Reasonableness-insure your answer makes sense
Tips for Taking a Math Exam
  1. If permitted, write down any formulas or ideas that you remember on the back of the exam.
  2. Look over the entire test quickly in order to pace yourself and be able to use your time wisely. Make note of the point count given for each problem. Spend more time on items of greater worth.
  3. Read directions carefully, and be sure to answer all questions completely. Indicate final answers clearly. Keep your work neat.
  4. Work the problems and answer the questions that are easiest for you first. Then go back to the more difficult ones.
  5. Do not take too much time on one problem, as it may jeopardize your chances of being able to finish several problems in the time you are spending on one.
  6. Check your work in the time remaining. This will help you catch minor errors.
  7. Stay calm if others leave. You are entitled to use the full amount of time allotted.
Test Strategies: Before the Test

Adapted from The Basics of Effective Learning, Bucks County Community College

  1. Stay up-to-date on assignments: learn material and review as you go along.
  2. Make sure you understand the information as you are learning it: that way, you will not have to relearn it or have to cram a great deal of information in at one time.
  3. Read and study information in meaningful chunks (by chapters or units): that way you will be able to file and retrieve information easily.
  4. Make up flash cards for each chapter/unit: this way you will have information that you can easily carry and use for studying on a regular basis.
  5. Analyze past tests: this will help you determine how you can improve test results.
  6. Get the big picture: find out from the instructor what information will be stressed and what kinds of questions will be asked; then, develop a study strategy.
  7. Break study sessions into manageable time segments and meaningful units: you will re­ member more if you study for short periods of time (45 minutes to an hour) and over long periods of time (1-2 weeks)
Test Strategies: After the Test

Adapted from The Basics of Effective Learning, Bucks County Community College

  1. When you receive your test back, go over it to determine areas of strength and weakness in your test-taking skills.
  2. Check the point total to make sure it is right.
  3. Know what questions you missed and why.
  4. Study the instructor's comments (especially for essay questions) so you will know what is expected next time.
  5. Look for patterns of questions and tricky questions that the instructor likes to use.
  6. Determine if the questions came from the text or the lecture then concentrate more on that source for the next exam.
  7. Correct and understand what you missed so you can review strategies for that type of question.
  8. Review to put information back into long term memory.
  9. You may want to ask questions during your professor’s office hours while the test is fresh in your mind.
Techniques for True/False Questions
  1. When you see a double negative (such as "She is not unhappy"), underline both negative words and then change the negative words to positive words. Reread the statement and choose your answer.
  2. Write your F's and T's clearly so your professor can tell them apart.
  3. Answer the questions you know first. Some answers to questions you do not know are often supplied within other questions.
  4. Avoid changing answers. Research indicates your first answer is usually best.
  5. Budget your time wisely. There are usually a lot of T/F questions so answer them quickly to avoid focusing on what might be a two-point question in a 100-point exam.
  6. Do not get lazy. Read every question. Slow down.
Tips for True/False Questions
  1. Qualifying words like sometimes, generally, often, and mostly, usually indicate the statement is true.
  2. Look at the entire statement. All parts of the statement must be true for the question to be true.
  3. Answer all questions. There tend to be more true statements than false, so answer any unknowns as true.
  4. When absolute terms such as all, always, every, only, none, or never are used, the answer is usually false.
  5. If any part of the statement is false then the whole statement is false.
  6. Reason statements tend to be false. When something is given as the “reason” or “cause” or “because” of something else, it tends to be a false statement.
Techniques for Short Answer & Fill in the Blank Questions
  1. Make sure you understand the question.
  2. Pay attention to the quality of your sentence and grammar.
  3. Brainstorm on a separate piece ·of paper or the back of the test before constructing an answer.
  4. If a word list is provided, cross off the words as you use them.
  5. Fill in the blank and short answer are usually nouns.
  6. If you do not know an answer, make your best guess.
  7. The length of the blank space may indicate how many words the answer should be.
Tips for Short Answer & Fill in the Blank Questions
  1. It is best to over study. You need to know your subject backwards and forwards and be able to give as much information as possible.
  2. Focus on the facts and keywords. While studying, predict questions appropriate for this type of test. Study as though you were going to write the test.
  3. Use flashcards. Write key terms, dates, and concepts on the front and explanations on the back.
  4. Answer the questions you know first. Answers to the questions you do not know are often supplied in other questions; go back later to answer the difficult ones.
Techniques for Multiple Choice Questions
  1. Read the question and come up with possible answers before you look at the answer choices.
  2. Read all choices and then eliminate answers you know for sure are not right.
  3. Do not select "all of the above" if you know at least one answer is not correct and do not select "none of the above" if you know one of the statements is correct.
  4. Do not keep changing your answer. Your first choice is usually the right choice, unless you have misread the question.
  5. If there is no penalty for guessing, always take an educated guess and select an answer.
  6. If at least two choices are correct, select "all of the above.”
Tips for Multiple Choice Questions
  1. If you are not sure of an answer and two of the four choices are opposites then one of those two is a good guess.
  2. Avoid consecutive pairs of answers if making an educated guess.
  3. Never leave questions unanswered.
  4. Read the question without looking at the answers and predict your own answer. Look for your answer in the choices.
  5. Identify key words in questions and underline them (example: both, all, none).
  6. Eliminate obvious incorrect answers.
Essay Exam Strategies
  1. Preparation:
    1. Know the vocabulary of the subject matter
    2. Think of possible essay questions
    3. Practice writing out responses
    4. Time yourself when practicing
  2. Proofread for:
    1. Omitted words or phrases
    2. Careless oversights in answering the question
    3. Unclear, unsupported, incorrect statements
    4. Common terms
  3. Organization
    1. Make a short outline in the margin of your paper
    2. Organize your response with a thesis statement
    3. Leave spaces in between responses to fill in ideas as they occur
    4. Underline key words in questions
  4. When taking an essay exam:
    1. Read the instructions carefully
    2. Make a quick survey of the test
    3. Give more time to questions worth more points
    4. Write legible paragraphs
    5. Be sure you have answered all parts of the question
Common Terms Used on Essay Exams
  1. Compare: examine qualities in order to determine resemblances
  2. Contrast: stress dissimilarities, differences
  3. Define: write concise, clear meanings
  4. Discuss: examine, present considerations
  5. Evaluate: present careful appraisal with advantages and limitations
  6. Explain: clarify, elucidate, and interpret
  7. Illustrate: present a figure, diagram or concrete example
  8. Interpret: translate, exemplify, or comment upon the subject, and, usually give your judgment or reaction
  9. Justify: prove your thesis or show grounds for decision
  10. List: present itemized series or tabulation
  11. Outline: give main points and essential supplementary materials in systematic order
  12. Prove: establish something with certainty by citing evidence or by logical reasoning
  13. Relate: emphasize connections and associations
  14. Review: analyze and comment briefly
  15. State: express the high points in brief, clear form
  16. Summarize: give main points and essential supplementary materials in systematic order
Test-Taking Preparation
  1. Talk to your professors: Your professors are the experts in their subject matter and are a great place to start when you need clarification.
    1. Ask questions in class
    2. Go to your professor's office hours
  2. Check out tutoring: Tutoring is a free service available in many 100-200 level subjects to all enrolled Oakland University students.
    1. Go to to see if tutoring is available for your class
    2. The Tutoring Center's location is 103 NFH
  3. Practice: Practice testing yourself on the material presented in class and the assigned readings
  4. Attend Supplemental Instruction (SI): SI is a program that provides organized study sessions two to three times a week for students enrolled in traditionally difficult courses.
    1. Visit SAIL to see if SI is attached to your class.
  5. Review: Review your notes on a regular basis.
    1. After class, take time to re-read your notes, adding or clarifying items.
    2. Mark any questions you want to revisit in your notes.
  6. Visualize: See yourself doing well and psych yourself up to take the exam.
Common Test-Taking Errors
  1. Test Procedure: Mistakes are made because of the specific way you take tests, such as: missing questions in a certain area of the test; not completing a problem to its last step; changing test answers from correct to incorrect; spending too much time on one problem; or rushing and making careless errors.
  2. Careless: Mistakes can be avoided if you review the test before turning it in.
  3. Application: Mistakes can happen when you know the answer but apply it incorrectly. Learn to predict the type of application problems that will be on the test.
  4. Concept: Mistakes are made when you do not understand the principles required to work the problem. Avoid this in the future, by talking to your professor.
  5. Study: Mistakes happen when you study the wrong type of materials or do not spend enough time studying the important materials. Avoid this next time, track down why errors occurred to study more effectively next time.
  6. Misread directions: Mistakes happen when you skip directions or misunderstand directions but you answer the problem anyway.