Well-being Wednesday: Six strategies for effective learning from the Center for Student Wellbeing

While you can’t completely avoid test stress, learning how to effectively study will help you better retain information and relieve some of the anxiety caused by last-minute cram sessions.

Need help putting the below tips into practice? Reach out to the Center for Student Wellbeing to schedule an academic coaching appointment, or attend a drop-in session.

Spaced practice

Set aside a little time to study each day. Five hours spread over two weeks is better than five hours all at once. After reviewing information from the most recent class, study older information to keep it fresh.

Retrieval practice

Put away your class materials and write or sketch everything you know. Be as thorough as possible. Then check your class materials for accuracy and important points you missed. If practice tests are available, take as many as you can.


While studying, ask yourself how things work and why. Then find the answers in your class materials. As you elaborate, make connections between different ideas to explain how they work together. Take two ideas and think of ways they are similar and different. Describe how the ideas you are studying apply to your own experiences. As you go through your day, make connections to the ideas you are learning in class.


Switch between ideas during a study session. Don’t study one idea for too long. Go back over the ideas again in different orders to strengthen your understanding. Make links between ideas as you switch between them.

Concrete examples

Collect examples your teacher has used and look in your class materials for as many examples as possible. Make the link between the idea you are studying and each example.

Dual coding

Look at your class materials and find visuals. Look over the visuals and compare to the words. Look at the visuals and explain in your own words what they mean. Take the information that you are trying to learn and draw visuals to go along with it.

–Content by Yana Weinstein (University of Massachusetts–Lowell) and Megan Smith (Rhode Island College)