Develop your academic skills

Develop Skills Related to Academic Success

The Learning Center offers robust services to help undergraduate students achieve their academic goals. The resources/services featured on this page couple well with other services offered through The Learning Center’s Academic Programs. This page focuses specifically on the following Academic Skills:

  • Study Skills
  • Time Management and Productivity
  • Note-taking
  • Avoid Procrastination and Increase Persistence
  • Collaboration
  • Approach Instructors (and other course related resources) and utilize office hours effectively
  • Test Anxiety

In each targeted skill featured below, you may notice suggestions for apps that our students/staff have recommended. The apps featured on this page are in no way an exhaustive list, nor does The Learning Center or Washington University endorse any specific app featured here. You may find an app that works for you based on your own research and through introspection. (And please let us know if you find other apps! We would love to hear about additional tools that may help other students).

Academic Skills Video Series

Vol. 1: Time Management

Vol. 2: Spaced Practice

Vol. 3: Study Skills

Vol. 4: Identifying and Using Resources

Effective Study Skills Ensure Success

  1. Use practice tests as initial self-assessments. Don’t “cram” before taking the practice test. Instead, take the practice with your current knowledge to identify areas of improvement/where you need to focus your studying.
  2. Build knowledge from familiar concepts.
  3. The manner in which you re-read material is related to how information is processed. Mindfulness is an important aspect of re-reading.
  4. Flash cards, studying in a small group, and teaching the information can all be effective ways to study – find what works.
  5. Study a little every day (alternate the subjects), and avoid studying one subject for hours on end.
  6. Identify the concept behind each problem. When attempting a problem, first try to identify what concept the professor is testing you on. Getting the right answer is important, but it’s also critical that you know what concept(s) you need to use/apply.
  7. Time management is very important for effective studying.

To learn more, view our Study Skills document.

Helpful Study Skills Resources

Time Management & Productivity

  1. Don’t set yourself up to fail. If you’re not a morning person, don’t create a schedule that requires waking up at 5:00am. Find what works for you and build from there.
  2. Prioritize tasks/duties/meetings based on importance and urgency.
  3. Have set times to accomplish routine tasks to give yourself a strong foundation. This can help alleviate feelings of being overwhelmed and pressured, and the constant juggling of tasks.
  4. Reward yourself for completing tasks on time.
  5. Find a school/personal life balance. Being more aware of your time and how you spend it will help you understand your time abilities and constraints.
  6. Write professor and TA office hours into your schedule/planner. When you need additional help, you’ll have that information at your fingertips—not buried somewhere in your backpack or desk.
  7. Break large assignments into smaller segments. For each designated segment, set a deadline for yourself. All segments should build upon the previous one(s) so that the “total” assignment is complete by the deadline (most likely professor-set)

To learn more, view our Time Management & Productivity document.

Helpful Time Management Apps

*Many students take advantage of their Outlook Calendar (accessible through your student email).

Guidance for Effective Note-taking

  1. Hand writing notes–as opposed to typing notes on a laptop or tablet–can increase learning by forcing your mind to synthesis information during lectures.
  2. Don’t try to write word-for-word what the lecturer/instructor is saying. You will miss important information if you are too busy trying to “transcribe” the lecture.
  3. Write notes in a way that you will use.
  4. Become friends with someone in your class and swap notes to gain another perspective.

To learn more, view our Note-taking Skills document.

Helpful Note-taking Apps

Want to Avoid Procrastinating and Increase Persistence?

  1. For long term goals that don’t have set deadlines or are further away – create your own deadlines
    and break out the larger goal into smaller goals that act as steps towards the larger goal.
  2. Avoiding procrastination and increasing self-control is more than just creating deadlines for yourself
    or time management.
  3. Understand and increase “grit”.
  4. Find something you are passionate about and what motivates you.
  5. To persevere through difficulty, resist the urge to engage in “grass is always greener” thinking.
  6. Try to promote a growth mindset for yourself, rather than a fixed mindset. People who have fixed mindsets tend to believe their ability to learn something new is “fixed,” while someone with a growth mindset believes that eventually s/he will learn something new and improve with deliberate practice and effort.

To learn more, view our Procrastination and Persistence document.

Helpful Persistence Apps

Benefits of Collaboration

  1. Gain new perspectives
  2. Collaborating can increase creativity
  3. Increase your ability to work with different personalities
  4. Collaborating in groups can lead to networking opportunities

To learn more, view our Collaboration Skills document.

Helpful Collaboration Apps

Peer Coaching for Academic Skills

Do you think a one-on-one meeting with one of our peer coaches would benefit you?

Take the Academic Skills Assessmentand forward the results to one of our peer coaches listed below to make an appointment.

Demi Bajela, kbajela@wustl.edu  (Sign up here for general academic skills)

Nick Blake, nicholasblake@wustl.edu ( Sign up here for academic skills  related to Social Science courses)

Irene Antony, ireneantony@wustl.edu (Sign up here for skills related to STEM disciplines)

Matt Serafini-Lamanna, mserafini-lamanna@wustl.edu ( Sign up here for general academic skills and to manage test anxiety)

Meet your Peer Coach: Demi Bajela

Demi is a junior double majoring in Spanish and Biology-genomics and computational biology track. She is working towards a career in which she would address issues that affect health equity for mothers and children in under privileged communities in order to improve policies and medical care that is offered in these communities. She enjoys traveling and learning about other cultures. In the future, she hopes to combine her passion for cultures with her love for medicine and research in order to create medical practices that are beneficial to building sustainable infrastructure for each community she works in, both within the United States and in various countries.

Meet your Peer Coach: Nick Blake

Nick is a Sophomore from Florida studying Psychological and Brain Sciences with a minor in Human-Computer Interaction. He’s interested in gaining insight into the intersection between human behavior and technology.

Meet your Peer Coach: Irene

My name is Irene. I’m from Long Island, New York and my major is Neuroscience. In my free time, I love to dance, read, and act out favorite movie scenes. The road to good study skills can seem long, which is why I’m here to help!

Six Strategies for Effective Learning

“For each [of these six strategies for effective learning], [the authors] explain how to do it, some points to consider, and where to find more information”

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

Difficulty Getting Everything Done?

Quick overview of how to plot your schedule.

Time Management Resource

Resource for planning time