Center for Academic Support and Advancement

Learning Strategies

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  • When possible, get written instructions for all assignments and tests.
  • Write down oral instructions to have a visual aid to refer to later.
  • Use visual/verbal aids: handouts, outlines or summary notes of lectures, written definitions of new terms, diagrams, charts and graphs.
  • Write down oral explanations.
  • Take careful notes to help concentrate during class lectures and discussions; then study them several times for a visual review before a test.
  • Write summaries or notes in your own words of what you have read or discussed in class.
  • Read your textbooks and other assigned material silently instead of aloud to gain maximum meaning.
  • Highlight important ideas in your assigned reading with colored markers or highlighters, and make summary comments in the margins in your own words.
  • Make flashcards with definitions, dictionary examples, and your own sentences of new vocabulary.
  • Make lists and other written reminders of anything you need to remember to do.


  • Carefully watch demonstrations and modeling of assigned tasks.
  • Ask for models of successfully completed assignments that you can emulate.
  • Pay attention to visual aids: lists, diagrams, charts, pictures, films, concept maps, and real objects.
  • Draw pictures, diagrams, or other graphic representations of problems, ideas, or concepts.
  • Use a variety of bright colors to highlight important information in your lecture notes and assigned readings.
  • Use guided visualizations to help you imagine a situation, and get a mental picture of what you are reading or listening about in a lecture to keep you mentally alert and better able to retain this verbal information.
  • Ask your instructor to provide examples and anecdotes to help you imagine and understand difficult concepts and vocabulary.

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  • Make tape recordings of information you want to learn and play them in your car, while doing household chores, and before going to sleep.
  • Summarize the content you want to master aloud to yourself or to someone else.
  • Try a solution to a problem verbally before doing it on paper.
  • Ask for verbal explanations for diagrams, charts, graphs.
  • Brainstorm ideas aloud with classmates before beginning a reading or writing assignment.
  • Use a study buddy or small-group to discuss material and prepare for tests.


  • Record your thoughts on paper; make lists, outlines, graphs, or concept maps.
  • Take good notes during lengthy class lectures and discussions, even if you think you understand the material, because the act of writing and highlighting important points aids a great deal in learning.
  • Make your own graphs, charts, time lines, diagrams, and concept maps to better understand new concepts and important materials.
  • Highlight ideas in your assigned chapters and other reading selections after you have already done an initial reading; then copy the most important information in your own words in a notebook in whatever form seems helpful to you: chart, graph, diagram, or summary.
  • Make and use your own flash cards to quiz yourself on new vocabulary and material.
  • Write your brainstorming for papers and projects or problem-solving for math first on a large piece of paper, then copy this onto a smaller piece of paper.
  • Schedule your study sessions so that you can take breaks to stretch and move around.
  • Break your homework into manageable time blocks; vary the activities you work on to concentrate better rather than spending a large amount of time on one activity.
  • Try not to register for classes that meet only once or twice a week, which may require you to sit and listen to a lecture/discussion for a long period of time.

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