University of Notre Dame
University of Notre Dame


Top 3 Study Tips

Often freshman year involves a lot more independent study than high school. It can be a struggle to learn how to learn and retain information on your own. I decided to ask the first-year advisors what some of their favorite study tips are.

3. Location is important.

As Deacon Mel says, “A dorm has too many temptations and distractions; the dorm room especially, but even a study lounge has many friends and acquaintances with whom it is easy to procrastinate.

“It’s better to find a regular study location where the sole reason for going there is to study. Students are more likely to study when they go there (because that’s why they’re going there), and they can take a mental separation from study once they leave.”

Where you study can impact your attitude and performance. Check out Top 3 Unexpected Places to Study for some unique places to go!

2. Study alone before joining a group.

Father Don LaSalle suggests, “Make sure you know the material (or most of it), before going over things with others. Otherwise, you can mistake familiarity for knowing the material. You can nod your head when others are describing things, but that does not mean you have mastered the material yourself. Use groups to reinforce the knowledge that you already have by studying on your own.”

1. Don’t Review. Recall.

Dr. Lucero explains, “When students review – reading, highlighting, reading, highlighting (i.e., just looking at the notes)—they get a false sense of knowing the material. If they practice recall, or ‘effortful retrieval’—such as closing the book or notes and writing down everything they know – their long-term memory will be improved.”

Dean Maureen Dawson takes notes specifically to support recall. She says, “When taking notes, leave the facing page blank so that when you review your notes you can annotate with questions, references, problems, and further clarification. I learned this when I was a first year student and still take my notes this way!”

For further help with studying, check out the Learning Resource Center and the Program in Academic Excellence!