The Academic and Career Advisement Center equips students with the tools they need to reach their goals.

We understand that being a college student can be stressful and even overwhelming at times. That is why we have created resources to assist you with developing positive study habits, test-taking skills and a good sense of time management.

Look through these with your academic adviser or with a tutor from All Campus Tutoring.

Note Taking/Reading Improvement

  • Retaining material 
  • Future Reference
  • To derive meaning from assigned readings 
  • To better understand the material 
  • Use the information as a foundation for future courses
  • Summarize the main points
  • Include prevalent ideas- written in your own words
  • Contain specific details like dates, locations, people, theories and definitions.
  • Make sure they are organized so that they are understandable for later
  • Include diagrams
  • Get to class early, so you are settled and ready when the lecture starts 
  • Sit where you will hear the speaker and see the board 
  • Know what topics will be covered ahead of time by reviewing the syllabus
  • Review the notes from previous class sessions
  • Turn off your phone!
  • Be simple 
  • Be legible 
  • Capture main points
  • Only contain details that are necessary for your purpose
  • Write in your own words
  • Review Daily!
  • Use your textbook as a guide
  • Use your NMU email
  • Make the subject line clear
  • Use a professional greeting If you know their status make sure you use the correct titles (Dr., Professor, Mr. or Mrs.,  ect).
  • Thoroughly identify yourself 
  • Remain formal 
  • Be polite 
  • End with a formal closing (Thank you, Sincerely, Best, Ect..)


Quenosha, P. (n.d.).  How to Write an Email to a Professor. Retrieved from:

Reading a College Textbook Effectively – SQ4R

(The more senses you use in storing information, the better your retrieval and retention.)

The SQ4R strategy is built around the idea that what you do before and after you read is as important as the reading itself.  Learning is an active process which requires concentration and energy.  Understanding and using the following strategies will increase your comprehension and your retention of the information.

SQ4R = Survey – Question – Read – Recite – Record – Review


  • Look at chapter and section titles. Often the introduction to the chapter supplies background for the purpose of the chapter.
  • Read headings, subheadings, and italicized words or those in bold or colored print. Go through the chapter heading buy heading to form an outline of the chapter in your head.
  • Look quickly over charts and graphs.
  • Read the summary at the end of the chapter. If no summary, read the last sentence or two before each new heading.
  • Your intent should be to try and get a sense of what the assigned material is covering.
  • While reading, use your survey as a guide of what is important to learn.


  • Turn chapter and section titles into questions.
  • Read the questions at the end of the chapter and/or section.
  • Did your instructor cover this information in lecture or lab?
  • What do you already know about the subject matter?
  • Sometimes it is helpful to write these questions out so that you can refer to them during your reading.


  • Read to answer the questions you wrote out.
  • Pay attention to captions and section summaries.
  • Bold, underlined, and italicized words and phrases are noteworthy.
  • Stop and reread if not clear.
  • SLOW DOWN if you need to…remember quality vs. quantity.


  • Ask your questions aloud. Answer those questions you can without looking to the text.
  • If need be, revisit the text to answer those questions you found difficult.
  • Recite key terms and concepts.
  • How would you put the information in your own words?


  • Try to link new information to concepts or previous information with which you are familiar.
  • How does the new concept relate to the concepts you already know? Does it relate? Why?
  • How does the reading relate to your lecture notes? Where are discrepancies?


  • When finished reading, go back over the chapter and your notes/questions one final time.
  • Review is ongoing, so take a little time each day to go over your notes and readings for each class.

Adapted from Cuesa College’s page:

  • Ask yourself questions 
    • How is this reading supposed to relate to the lecture?
    • Are you reading with a purpose?
    • What should you know after reading?
  • Don’t forget to pay attention to the graphs, illustrations, charts, ect.

Simple active reading:

  • Highlight important definitions, dates, names, key words, ect.
  • Underline explanations of concepts 
  • Write notes in the margins so you can easily locate information 
  • Some students use tabs to make important sections 

-Always ask your professor for guidance if you are experiencing difficulty.

-Try to determine those readings on which you should place particular emphasis 


  • Memory is like a muscle- the more it is used, the better it gets!
  • Effective memorization begins with using as many of the best function of the human brain as possible to code information:
    • Images, color, structure, sounds, smells, tastes, touch, spatial awareness, emotion, and language.
  • Use repetition
    • This is one of the most basic learning techniques.  Repetition helps the brain to form a stronger connection related to that piece of information.  
  • Repetition Tips:
    • Make flashcards 
    • Re-read material outloud 
    • Break data into clusters 
    • Write lecture summaries


Studying and Test Taking

  • Develop a systematic study method
    • Start early (weeks in advance!)
    • Find a study partner
    • Learn the course vocabulary
    • Read with a purpose
    • Review notes and chapter questions from textbooks weekly
  • Check out tutoring and/or course specific study groups
  • Know the test
    • What is the format? Essay, short answer, multiple choice?
    • What type of questions will be on the test?
    • What are your grade expectations for the test? Are they realistic?
    • What is the time limit?
  • Plan ahead by using the syllabus to make note of all important dates for your courses on your calendar
  • Address difficulties early by talking with your instructor
  • Avoid cramming!

Visit NMU’s Counseling & Consultation office

  • Know how much time you have to complete the entire test (how much time can you spend on each question?)
  • Underline/circle important words in the directions
  • Reread directions and/or questions to make sure you are clear on what you need to do
  • Avoid potential distractions. If testing remotely, give yourself a private quiet place to work. If testing in the classroom ignore other students in the room

Time Management

  • Clutter and forgetfulness increase stress and have damaging effects on grades
  • Students who are organized exemplify a more professional approach to their work and are generally more productive and efficient with their time
  • Being organized is the first step to a more enjoyable college experience!
  • Prioritize tasks
  • Gain control of your day to day activities
  • Meet deadlines
  • Get enough sleep
  • Follow through with commitments
  • Avoid cramming
  • Easily locate necessary information
  • Know what’s coming next!
  1. Assess
    • Decide which areas your organizational skills may be lacking
      • Are you often late to class or meetings?
      • Do you have a hard time keeping track of assignments?
      • Do you know where you are supposed to be this afternoon?
  2. Separate Materials and Reduce Clutter
    • Clutter can hinder productivity and efficiency
    • Separate educational materials by subject
      • Use folders and notebooks
    • Keep a calendar, assignment book, or planner
    • Use a computerized scheduling tool
    • Organize documents on your computer
  3. Make a Schedule
    • Categorize events and activities
      • Leisure activities vs. required academic activities
    • Prioritize assignments in order of importance
    • Plot these items on a schedule
  4. Break Down Tasks
    • Don’t Procrastinate
      • Start the process early
      • Allocate time each day
    • Feeling Overwhelmed?
      • Break projects down into manageable pieces
  5. Reward Yourself
    • Plan a enjoyable activity when the task is accomplished
    • Rewarding yourself after completing certain levels of organization can keep you organized and reduce stress
  • Start projects as soon as they are assigned
  • Divide a large task into smaller, manageable chunks
  • You should attend all of you classes
    • Listening to lectures is more efficient than reading text
  • Use your time wisely
    • Set aside enough time to finish schoolwork and other tasks
    • Consider your workload between work and school
  • Examine your preferences and priorities
    • What you want to do versus what you need to do
  • Do not let social activities cut into your class work time
  • If you have trouble finding time to study it might be because you have over-extended yourself
  • Decrease work hours during finals, midterms, and other high stress times
  • Start assignments NOW
  • Go to class everyday
  • Organize projects into simple tasks
    • Do the harder tasks first while your motivation is high
    • Easier tasks take less time and energy
  • Set a deadline for yourself...stick to it
    • Be specific with your deadlines
    • Have friends and family ask you about your progress