How to Study for Note-Based Courses 

The Study Cycle

Study Cycle

Note-based courses generally require reading, comprehension and advanced recall of information. The Study Cycle, a model for optimal college studying, can work for you. See below or watch this short video.

  • PREVIEW (5-15 minutes)
    Before class, skim new material and note big ideas.
  • ATTEND CLASS
    Take notes and ask questions.
  • REVIEW (10-15 minutes)
    Reread notes, fill in gaps and develop questions.
  • STUDY (30-50 minutes)
    Schedule several Focused Study Sessions per class each week.
  • TEST
    Ask yourself the following:
    Can I teach this material to someone?
    Are my study methods effective?
Adapted from Frank Christ’s PLRS system.
©2015 Louisiana State University, Center for Academic Success

Focused Study Sessions

Focused Study Sessions (FSSs) are designed to work with the way your brain learns best: in short, focused increments. Schedule several Focused Study Sessions per class each week. Watch our video for more details.

  • PLAN (1-2 minutes)
    Decide what you will accomplish in your study session and get started.
  • STUDY (30-50 minutes)
    Organize, concept map, summarize, process and re-read material.
  • BREAK (5-10 minutes)
    Step away from material to clear your head.
  • RECAP (5 minutes)
    Go back over, summarize, wrap-up and check what you studied.
  • CHOOSE
    Should I continue studying?
    Should I take a break?
    Should I change tasks or subject?

Concept Mapping

Use this technique to visually organize material in a way that increases comprehension and retention. It's also good for brainstorming. Some students take notes this way in class, while others use it to preview a chapter before reading.

Concept Mapping Videos

College Reading Strategies

Reading is a substantial part of college learning. There are several powerful strategies that can help you get the most out of your reading assignments. Learn more in this online workshop.

Other resources