What Are the Best Tips for Improving Academic Skills?

B. Miller

Individuals that possess solid academic skills are much more likely to succeed in any type of educational venture, but they do take practice to develop. Note taking, studying, and test taking skills all need to be mastered in order to do well in any subject, and each individual may find that certain methods work better for him or her than others. Taking a brief course in improving academic skills might be a good place to start, and they are often offered at the beginning of the school year or semester. Working with a tutor might also be a good way to develop better study habits and improve academic habits in general.

Using flash cards can help improve your academic skills.
Using flash cards can help improve your academic skills.

Each individual may struggle more in a certain area of academic skills than others, and it is important to be able to recognize this. For instance, some students are great note-takers, but then don't know how to study these notes effectively, and will freeze up on tests. With regards to note-taking, it is important to find a happy medium between taking so many notes that it is impossible to follow along in class and listen the lecture, and so few notes that they do not cover the most important facts and details provided. This will make it easier to study the notes later on.

Working one-on-one with a teacher may help improve academic skills.
Working one-on-one with a teacher may help improve academic skills.

Good study skills are some of the most important academic skills an individual can possess. There are some general tips that can make studying easier and more productive; these include studying in shorter bursts, such as half an hour to one hour, and taking frequent breaks to prevent getting burned out. Scheduling time to study and minimizing distractions, such as shutting off the cell phone and staying off the Internet, can also make study sessions more productive. Some people study well independently, others do better with friends and using flash cards or quizzing each other.

Note taking may help improve academic skills.
Note taking may help improve academic skills.

For some people, developing academic skills requires some extra work and the completion of dedicated exercises. In this case, working one-on-one with a tutor or teacher can be a good way to receive some extra attention and focus on the specific problem areas. There are even some educational computer games now that can help students to learn the material they are studying and to develop better study skills. Finding ways to make education and studying more fun, such as through educational games, is one of the best ways to get kids excited about learning from an early age.

Good study habits may include marking important passages in texts.
Good study habits may include marking important passages in texts.

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Discussion Comments


@miriam98 - If you have a problem with note taking, just take a tape recorder to the lecture. That’s become quite common nowadays, and in some classes they let you bring laptops to follow along with a presentation. Just don’t get distracted with your laptop (don’t surf the Internet).


@everetra - At our local community college all entering freshman are enrolled in a study skills course. I don’t know if the four year colleges have such a curriculum, but I think it’s great.

Many students find it boring, I know. They ask why they should waste their credit hours on such a “pointless” course. But it’s not pointless. The stuff you learn in the study skills course will be with you throughout your college career, and could save you from failing some courses.

You learn things like settings goals and objectives within your schedule, being current with homework, how to preview material before you read it, how to block tasks in easy to digest chunks and so forth.

Basically they are time management or project management skills, so they will stay with you long after college. I think all universities should have such a course for incoming freshmen.


@MrMoody - For me one of the best study skills tips was to read an explanation of the material from various sources. For example we all had textbooks, but sometimes an explanation in a textbook or in class was inadequate.

In this great day of the Internet, it’s easy to go online and read alternative explanations. Really there is no excuse for not “getting” something because the professor didn’t explain it well.

Of course you can also visit a campus tutor who will help make things clear to you as well.


There are many ways to improve study skills. You have to weigh how effective the different methods are, however. In college we had the so called “24 hour room” at the bottom floor of the library.

It was open all hours, and we went there with some friends to study during the wee hours of the night and into the morning. The problem was we got very little studying done.

Instead we did a lot of talking. So it wasn’t very effective. I got more done by working in solitude and reviewing and underling chapters in my book. Like I said there are many methods but you need to be honest and evaluate which method is actually working for you.

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