Student Success Resources

Print the resources below to get organized for your semester!

Here are some other helpful tips:

Create a Good Workspace

Find a quiet place with a good internet connection, access to power and freedom from distraction.

Know Your Resources

Figure out what technologies, websites and campus resources you need to use in each course.  Ensure your computer is working well, install any needed software and verify your browser is up-to-date.  

Stay Organized

It’s important to stay organized and to keep a copy of anything you submit in the event that a technology problem requires you to resubmit it—even your discussion forum posts.  Don’t forget to take good notes while doing your readings or watching online lectures just as you would in any other class.

Create a Schedule & Manage Time Wisely

A part of staying organized is having strong time management skills. Online courses certainly provide a lot of flexibility in terms of when you do your studying, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to study!  Just as you might attend a face-to-face lecture at a regular time each week, you need to schedule time (and enough of it) to study the materials and complete assignments. Pay close attention to assignment due dates as well.

Seek Help When Needed

Don’t wait until you’re lost.  If you’re not sure of an assignment, are having difficulty performing required tasks or just don’t get something, don’t hesitate.  Reach out to your faculty and classmates, but also take full advantage of online resources that may be available such as Tutoring Services and the Student Success Team.

TEXT book Reading
  • SQ4R Reading System

    The SQ4R reading system is designed to help process and increase retention of written information, the SQ4R method consists of 6 steps that help to guide you through your textbook and other written information. One drawback to this method is that it adds time to what you normally set aside for reading your textbooks. The end benefit is increased understanding of written material and more efficient studying.

    Scan the textbook or written material to establish its purpose and/or to get the main ideas. This can include skipping to the summary at the end of a chapter and reading the main points and looking at the questions. The purpose of this is to get a “big picture” idea of what the material is about. While surveying the material look at:

    • Titles and Headings – these indicate the main topics and concepts
    • Pictures, questions, bold or italicized print – these emphasize important information
    • Introduction and Conclusion – may summarize the topics and the purpose of the material
    • Footnotes – the may provide extra information for your benefit

    Before reading the material create questions based on what you observed during the first step. These questions can be based on:

    • Titles and Headings
    • Pictures and bold or italicized print
    • Introduction and Conclusion
    • Footnotes
    • First sentence of a paragraph

    For example, the title “The First Law of Thermodynamics” can become “What is the first law of thermodynamics?”

    Actively read the text, meaning do not skim through it or passively glance it over. In this step you are trying to find the answer to your questions. One important point on this step is to make sure you are not trying to find the answer only. This may cause you to miss out on other important information.

    Now can you answer your question(s) in your own words? Can you answer your question in the words your instructor would use (such as on a test)? If you can't, then reread the material to find the answer or to determine if you need to change the question.

    You are rehearsing for the time when you will need to know the answer. A good technique for rehearsing the answers is to briefly jot down the key word or words that will remind you of the essence of the answer without writing down every detail that you can never remember anyway

    Once you know the material and are able to answer the question(s), the next step is to record what you have learned. This can be done in multiple ways and is based on your preference: a. Highlighting the information b. Make notes in the margins c. Take notes on a separate piece of paper d. A combination of these

    Reviewing the material on a consistent basis is an effective study strategy that is often overlooked. Many students will review the material once or twice before an exam, but not on a weekly basis leading up to it. It is best to review the material weekly as it will help you remember more of the information longer. This means that you are reviewing what you already know versus relearning the material before an exam. This can also have other positive benefits such as decreased study time before an exam and increased confidence because you already know the material.

    Feel free to customize this system to meet your own needs and the needs of a particular class or text. The SQ4R system works particularly well for courses where much of the information for quizzes and exams comes from the text, and you must know and understand a lot of detail.

Note Taking
  • Cornell Method of Note Taking

    The Cornell Method of note-taking is an effective system for organizing your notes into an effective study guide. This system will enable you to better utilize and retain information within the notes.  CORNELL METHOD OF NOTE TAKING (PDF)

    Note-Taking Area:    
    Record the lecture and/or class discussion as fully and as meaningfully as possible.

    Cue Column: 
    As you’re taking notes, keep the cue column empty. Soon after the class, reduce your notes to concise bullets or summary statements to aid in your review.

    Sum up each page of your notes in a sentence or two.

    “The 5 Rs of Note Taking”

    There are five stages involved in the Cornell note-taking method. These five stages are referred to as “the 5 R’s”

    Prior to the actual recording of notes, your page should already be set up with a note taking area, cue column, and a space for summaries. When recording, you can use an outline or paragraph format. Be sure to include important information, diagrams, illustrations, questions/answers provided during his/her the class.

    Review and condense your notes as soon after class as possible. Performing this reduction stage within 24-48 hours of the class increases your understanding and recall by approximately 80%. When reducing, write keywords and phrases in the cue column to summarize the main points of the discussion in the fewest words possible. Be sure to anticipate possible questions your teacher may ask, and write them here. Finally, summarize the discussion entirely in your own words; this step aids any student in identifying what he/she knows and understands.

    The purpose of this stage is to enable you to cue your memory regarding the class session and its subject. Cover your notes and attempt to reiterate keywords and phrases in your own words. The recall column may be used to jog your memory. If this stage proves too difficult, review your notes and attempt again.

    Reflecting proves to be one of the most helpful elements of this method. After reviewing and reciting your notes, give yourself some “wait time” to think about them. It is during this time that you can target which aspects you are strong in and which you need to review and/or study more. Use your text to clarify your notes, define terms, and relate concepts. Make generalizations and draw conclusions. This will help you to become a more active and critical thinker.

    A brief review of your notes enables you to retain what you have previously learned. The repetition allows you to keep the information fresh, thus decreasing your chance of forgetting what you have learned. The more knowledge you have retained, the better you will be able to do on an exam or during a classroom discussion.

  • Tips for Taking Successful Lecture Notes

    There are many reasons for taking lecture notes. 

    • Making yourself take notes forces you to listen carefully and test your understanding of the material.
    • When you are reviewing, notes provide a gauge to what is important in the text.
    • Personal notes are usually easier to remember than the text.
    • The writing down of important points helps you to remember then even before you have studied the material formally. 

    Instructors usually give clues to what is important to take down. Some of the more common clues are: 

    • Material is written on the blackboard.
    • Repetition
    • Emphasis
      • Emphasis can be judged by tone of voice and gesture.
      • Emphasis can be judged by the amount of time the instructor spends on points and the number of examples he or she uses.
    • Word signals (e.g. "There are two points of view on, " "The third reason is ", " In conclusion . . . ")
    • Summaries are given at the end of class.
    • Reviews given at the beginning of class. 

    Each student should develop his or her own method of taking notes, but most students find the following suggestions helpful: 

    • Make your notes brief.
      • Never use a sentence where you can use a phrase. Never use a phrase where you can use a word.
      • Use abbreviations and symbols, but be consistent. 
    • Put most notes in your own words. However, the following should be noted exactly:
      • Formulas
      • Definitions
      • Specific facts 
    • Use outline form and/or a numbering system. Indention helps you distinguish major from minor points. 
    • If you miss a statement, write key words, skip a few spaces, and get the information later. 
    • Don't try to use every space on the page. Leave room for coordinating your notes with the text after the lecture. (You may want to list key terms in the margin or make a summary of the contents of the page.) 
    • Date your notes. Perhaps number the pages.
Test Taking Resources
  • Exam Types and Success Strategies


    • Read the directions carefully; pay close attention to whether you are supposed to answer all the essays or only a specified amount (answer 2 out of the 3 questions).
    • Make sure that you understand what the question is asking you.
    • Make sure that you write down everything that is asked of you and more. The more relevant details and facts that you write down, the better your grade will be.
    • Budget your time. Don't spend the entire test time on one essay.  If you have time left over at the end, go back and finish any incomplete essays.
    • If the question is asking for facts, don't give your personal opinion on the topic.
    • When writing your essay, try to be as neat as possible.
    • Make an outline before writing your essay. This way your essay will be more organized and fluid.
    • Don't write long introductions and conclusions, the bulk of your time should be spent on answering the question(s) asked.
    • Focus on one main idea per paragraph.
    • If you have time left at the end of the test, proofread your work and correct any errors.


    • Read the question before you look at the answers.
    • Come up with the answer in your head before looking at the possible answers. This way, the choices given on the test won't throw you off or trick you.
    • Eliminate answers you know aren't right.
    • Read all the choices before choosing your answer.
    • If there is no guessing penalty, always take an educated guess and select an answer.
    • Don't keep on changing your answer. Usually your first choice is the right one.
    • In "All of the Above" and "None of the Above" choices, if you are certain one of the statements is true, don't choose "None of the Above," or if one of the statements is false, don't choose "All of the Above.”
    • In a question with an "All of the Above" choice, if there are at least two correct statements, then "All of the Above" is probably the answer.


    • Spend an equal or greater amount of time preparing as you would for a normal test; the open book test will most likely be harder than if it were a closed book exam.
    • Familiarize yourself with the book and relevant materials.
    • If it's allowed, write down all the important formulas and key information on a separate sheet so you don't have to search through your book.
    • Focus on learning the main ideas and get a feel for where they are located in the book. Learn the details later if there's still time.
    • Highlight important points. If it is allowed, use post-it notes, bookmarks and make notes in your book.
    • Answer the questions that you know off the top of your head first, then go back and answer the questions where you need to reference your book.
    • Use quotations from the book to support your view, but don't over-quote, be sure to give your own insight and commentary.


    • Repetition is important in math. You learn how to solve problems by doing them, so study using practice problems.  Make sure you learn how to recognize when/why you should use a specific method to solve a problem.
    • Work on practice problems for each topic ranging in levels of difficulty.
    • When practicing, try to solve the problem on your own then look at the answer or seek help if you are having trouble.
    • When you get your exam, write down all the key formulas on the margin of your paper so if you forget them when you're in the middle of the test you can look back at the formula.
    • Read the directions carefully and don't forget to answer all parts of the question.
    • Show all your work (especially when partial credit is awarded) and write as legibly as possible.
    • Check over your test after you are done with it. If you have time, redo the problem on a separate piece of paper and see if you come up with the same answer the second time around.
    • Look for careless mistakes such as making sure the decimal is in the right place, that you read the directions correctly, that you copied the numbers correctly, that you put a negative sign if it is needed, that your arithmetic is correct, and so on.


    • Use flashcards, writing the key terms, dates and concepts on the front, and the definition, event, and explanations on the back.
    • Try to anticipate questions that will be asked on the test and prepare for them. Usually what your instructor emphasizes in class will be on the test.
    • Try not to leave an answer blank, show your work/write down your thoughts, even if you don't get the exact answer.
    • If you don't know the answer, come back to it after you finish the rest of the test and make an educated guess. Other parts of the test may give you clues to what the answer may be.
    • Read the question carefully and make sure that you answer everything that it asks for; some short answer questions have multiple parts.


    • Usually there are more true answers than false.
    • Read through each statement carefully, and pay attention to the qualifiers and keywords.
    • Qualifiers like "never, always, and every" mean that the statement must be true all of the time. Usually these type of qualifiers lead to a false answer.
    • Qualifiers like "usually, sometimes, and generally" mean that the statement can be considered true or false depending on the circumstances. Usually these type of qualifiers lead to an answer of true.
    • If any part of the question is false, then the entire statement is false, but, just because part of a statement is true, doesn't necessarily make the entire statement true.
  • Tips for Managing Test Anxiety

    You went to class, completed homework, and studied. You arrived at the exam confident about the material.  But if you have test anxiety, a type of performance anxiety, taking the test is the most difficult part of the equation.  The following are some causes of test anxiety:

     Fear of failure:  While the pressure to perform can act as a motivator, it can also be devastating to individuals who tie their self-worth to the outcome of a test.

     Lack of preparation:  Waiting until the last minute or not studying at all can leave individuals feeling anxious and overwhelmed.

     Poor test history: Previous problems or bad experiences with test-taking can lead to a negative mindset and influence performance on future tests.

     Tips for Managing Test Anxiety

    Develop good study habits. Study at least a week or two before the exam, in smaller increments of time and over a few days (instead of pulling an "all-nighter"). Try to simulate exam conditions by working through a practice test, following the same time constraints.

    Read the directions carefully, answer questions you know first and then return to the more difficult ones. Outline essays before you begin to write.

    Remember that your self-worth should not be dependent on or defined by a test grade. Creating a system of rewards and reasonable expectations for studying can help to produce effective studying habits. There is no benefit to negative thinking.

    Concentrate on the test, not other students during your exams. Try not to talk to other students about the subject material before taking an exam

    If you feel stressed during the exam, take deep, slow breaths and consciously relax your muscles, one at a time. This can invigorate your body and will allow you to better focus on the exam.

    Get enough sleep, eat healthfully, exercise and allow for personal time. If you are exhausted—physically or emotionally—it will be more difficult for you to handle stress and anxiety.

  • Test Taking Strategies

    Examinations are a fact of life in college and the best way to be successful on tests is to be prepared.  Staying up all night to "cram" is not a good strategy to succeed.  It's hard to take in and retain a large amount of information in a short period of time.  Below are some tips to help develop test taking skills: 


    • Start preparing for exams the first day of class. Do this by reading the syllabus carefully to find out when tests are scheduled, how many there are, and how much they are weighed into the final grade. 
    • Plan reviews as part of a regular weekly study schedule. Reviews are much more than reading and rereading all assignments.  Read over lecture notes and ask yourself questions on the material you don't know well.  Create a study group for these reviews to reinforce learning. 
    • Review for several short periods rather than one long period. You retain information better and get less fatigued. 
    • Turn the main points of each topic or heading into questions and check to see if the answers come to you quickly and correctly. Try to predict examination questions; then outline your answers. 
    • Flashcards may be a helpful way to review in courses that have many unfamiliar terms. Review cards in random order using only those terms that you have difficulty remembering. 


    • First, read the directions carefully. Points are often lost because students didn't follow the directions. 
    • Remember to preview the test to see how much time you need to allot for each section. If the test is all multiple choice questions, it is good to know that immediately. 
    • Work on the "easiest" parts first. If your strength is essay questions, answer those first to get the maximum points.  Pace yourself to allow time for the more difficult parts. 
    • When answering essay questions, try to make an outline in the margin before writing. Organization, clear thinking, and good writing is important, but so is neatness. Be sure to make your writing legible. 
    • Save time at the end of the exam to review your test and make sure you haven't left out any answers or parts of answers. This is difficult to do under the stress of exams, but it often prevents needless errors.


    • If the instructor reviews the exam in class, make sure to attend. This is an important class because it helps reinforce the information one more time in long-term memory.  It is an opportunity to hear what the instructor was looking for in the answers.  This can help you on the next exam. 
    • Go over the exam to determine areas of strength and weakness in your test-taking skills. If you have done poorly, learn from your mistakes.  Analyze your exam to determine how you can improve future test results.