Learning Strategy Services


  • Textbook.
  • Notebook/paper/laptop.
  • Highlighter.
  • Pencil.
  • Quiet area without distractions.


  1. Read the chapter summary first. This will outline the main ideas and concepts in the chapter.
  2. Review the questions and key terms at the end of the chapter. As you read through the chapter, look for the answers to these questions and the key terms.
  3. Read the chapter introduction. This will give you the main idea covered in the chapter.
  4. Pay close attention to the titles and subtitles of each section. Turn the title into a question to help you remember the main ideas.
  5. Review pictures, charts and lists throughout the chapter. These can provide a visual aid and help with understanding the main ideas.
  6. Focus on the first sentence of each paragraph as it often contains the most important information.
  7. Read the chapter slowly and carefully.
  8. Take notes and highlight as you read.
  9. Summarize: What were the main ideas?
  10. Answer the questions at the end of the chapter.
  • If you are unsure where to start during study/homework sessions use your “To Do List”
  • Make sure you get enough sleep. Concentration decreases when you are tired which increases the chance that you will procrastinate
  • Study during the time of day when you are most alert
  • Choose a regular place to study that is free of distractions
  • Causes of ProcrastinationTrouble following a schedule or a routine
  • Daydreaming or trouble concentrating
  • Fear of failure
  • Perfectionism
  • Personal Problems
  • Avoiding the task
  • Being bored
  • Feeling overwhelmed

What to do about Procrastination

  • Make a list of things to do—check each item off when complete
  • Using your weekly schedule, schedule each task into the week, when exactly are you going to get it done? (e.g. read chapter 3 on Tuesday, 2-3pm)
  • Reward-- substitute the reward for the dread for tackling the task. Reward should fit the task
  • Don’t wait until tomorrow, do it now.
  • Use small pockets of time well.
  • Schedule screen/TV time
  • Divide tasks into manageable chunks
  • Peer Pressure-- tell a friend what you wish to accomplish, you then pressure yourself to live up to the task so you don’t disappoint them and you. Give them permission to nag a little. CHOOSE THE RIGHT FRIEND

Keep track of your due dates and grades for assignments, tests and exams with this handy tool!

Course Records (PDF)

On Day 1, at the beginning of the lecture, you go in knowing nothing, or 0%, (where the curve starts at baseline). At the end of the lecture you know 100% of what you know, however well you may know it (where the curve rises to at its highest point).

By Day 2, if you have done nothing with the information you learned in that lecture; did not think about it again, read it again, etc., you will have lost 50-80% of what you learned. Our brains are constantly recording information on a temporary basis: scraps of conversation heard on the sidewalk, what the person in front of you is wearing, what we hear on the news. Because this information is not necessary and it does not come up again, our brains dump it all off, along with what was learned in the lecture that you actually want to hold on to!

By Day 7, we remember even less and by Day 30, we retain about 2%-3% of the original hour! This nicely coincides with midterm exams and may account for feeling as if you have never seen this before in your life when you are studying for the exams—you may need to actually re-learn it from scratch.

But wait!!! You can change the shape of the curve!

Reprocessing the same chunk of information sends a big signal to your brain to hold onto that data. When the same thing is repeated, your brain says, “Oh, there it is again, I better keep that, it must be important.” When you are exposed to the same information repeatedly, it takes less and less time to “activate” the information in your long term memory and it becomes easier for you to retrieve the information when you need it.

Here is formula and the case for making time to review your material:

  • Within 24 hours of getting the information—spend 10 minutes reviewing and you will raise the curve to almost 100% again.
  • A week later, (Day 7) it will only take 5-10 minutes to “reactivate” the same material and again raise the curve.
  • By Day 30, your brain will only need 2-4 minutes to give you the feedback to retrieve the information.

Often students feel they cannot possibly make time for a review session every day given their busy schedules—they have trouble keeping up as it is. However, this review is an excellent investment of time. If you do not review you will need to spend 40-50 minutes relearning each hour of material. Do you have that kind of time? Cramming rarely stores information in your long term memory successfully. This will make it difficult to retrieve the information when you need it for a test.

Depending on the course load, the general recommendation is to spend half an hour every weekday and 1.5 to 2 hours every weekend in review activity.

Many students are amazed at the difference reviewing regularly makes in how much they understand and how well they understand and retain the material. It is worth experimenting for a couple of weeks, just to see what difference it makes to you!

The Curve of Forgetting Graph:

The Curve of Forgetting describes how we retain or get rid of information we take in. It's based on a one-hour lecture.

curve of forgetting

Note taking is a skill that requires you to do things before, during and after each lecture.

Before the Lecture:

  • Read all assigned material; highlight important information and make notes.
  • Review previous lecture notes.
  • Sit near the front of the class. There are fewer distractions and it is easier to hear the instructor.

During the Lecture:

  • Write the date and course on each page. Write on one side of the page only.
  • Pay special attention to the beginning and end of each class. Often the beginning will be a summary of the previous class; therefore you can review your notes. During the last five minutes of class the instructor may include key information and instructions for the next lecture.
  • Be an active listener. If your mind is wandering, write down the distracting thought in a notebook or in your day planner so you can deal with it later then refocus on the lecture.
  • Be brief; focus on the main points; do not try to write down everything.
  • Use abbreviations and symbols.
  • Leave space to add more information later.
  • Be creative; make your notes your own, use colour, pictures and diagrams to keep you engaged.

After the Lecture:

  • Review your notes ASAP after lecture. 50-80% of new material will not be retained if it is not reviewed within 24 hours.
  • Review your notes within a week and test yourself in key terminology.
  • Review your notes again in several weeks to gain long-term memory retention.
  • Reworking your notes, rather than simply re-writing them will help you to retain the information


Read the chapter title, chapter summary, key terms, headings, study questions, charts and diagrams before you sit down to read the chapter. You should know the main ideas of the chapter after this initial survey. Break the chapter into sections and decide when you are going to cover each section (for example, “I will read pages 12-24 on Wednesday and pages 25-42 on Friday”). Put this into your day planner and schedule it into your weekly schedule.


Change the paragraph headings or key terms into questions. Write these questions down in a notebook or on a cue card. These questions will eventually become a bank of possible exam questions to study from. If you are using Kurzweil, highlight the question in yellow.


Read until you find the answer to the question you created.


Recite your answer out loud (or quietly to yourself if you are in public)


Write the answer in your notebook or on the back of your cue card. If you are using Kurzweil , highlight the answer in green.


Make a personal connection, think of an example, make associations, connect experiences and past knowledge. Now move on to the next heading or paragraph.


Once a week, test yourself using your questions and answers.

Stay on track and prevent procrastination! Use this tool to list your weekly tasks and make a plan to get them done.

Task Management Handout

Students can increase their marks by an average of 10% by following the tips below:

  • Download class notes and read them before class.
  • Attend every class. Do not skip classes.
  • Read over your notes within 24 hours of class.
  • Read over your notes at the end of each week.
  • Consider school like a job.
  • Be an active reader. Highlight, take notes, answer questions.
  • Study with a group some of the time.
  • Use your time in between class effectively.
  • Make up exam questions as you go.
  • Stay healthy by getting enough sleep, eating well and exercising.

Adapted from

Organize your week and plan your days, hour by hour, with this tool.

Weekly Schedule Template

Many students report the following before and during a test/exam

  • Memory blanks on information you have studied
  • Fear of failing the test
  • Heart beat increases, shortness of breath, sweating
  • Cannot understand the question
  • Distractions, lack of concentration

Here are some tips for writing your best test:

1. Start preparing early

Lack of preparation is the most common cause of test/exam anxiety. Set up a study schedule at least three weeks before your first exam. You may need to start studying even earlier depending on the subject and other commitments. Planning ahead prevents the need for last minute cramming which is a major cause of test anxiety.

2. Sleep well

Regular sleep is one of the best ways to control stress and remember information. Try to keep a regular schedule for bed time and wake time. Students who follow a regular sleeping pattern have been shown to perform 30% better than students who stay up late or get up exceptionally early to study.

3. Caffeine and Sugar intake

Do not increase or decrease the amount of coffee, tea, or cola you normally drink because your body is accustomed to getting a certain amount. Keeping things in your life as stable as possible during test/exam time is very important.

4. Calm down and embrace the stress

If you feel your heart beat and breathing rate increasing do not panic. This is a natural response for your body. It is preparing you for the test by supplying your brain with the extra oxygen you are going to need to write the test. Take slow deep breaths and visualize the oxygen going to your brain to help you perform well on the test.

5. Review the night before

The night before the exam review the main ideas and themes. Hopefully by this time you have studied and know the material.

6. Aim to do your best

Think positive. Turn off any negative thoughts and focus on what you know.

LiveScribe Smartpen is an assistive device that allows students to record written and recorded notes. The smartpen helps students to organize notes more effectively, increase their productivity, and decrease the time it takes to format their notes.

Here are 2 types of smarpens:

Echo Smartpen - YouTube video

Livescribe 3 Smartpen - YouTube video


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