8 Ways Studying In College Is Different Than Studying In High School

High school and college may be about learning, but they are also two very different kinds of fish. For one thing, I don’t think you lived on campus when you were in high school. And your teachers definitely did care in high school whether you showed up or not. Can you say “phone call home?” Another big difference between high school and college is the way you study.

You obviously still need to know the correct answers for your college tests and exams if you want to pass, but there are differences in the tests that you need to consider when you’re getting your studying on. College tests often impact your grade more than they would in high school and they also cover a lot more material. An exam worth 45% of your mark in college isn’t anything out of the ordinary, but in high school, you’re probably looking at one worth 25% of your mark, tops. Therefore, you need to ensure that you’re prepared for that test by studying in the most effective way.

Before you hit the books, check out the differences in studying for college versus studying in high school.

Cramming Is A Reality

If you thought you were cramming for a test in high school, it takes on a whole different meaning in college. I'm not trying to scare you, but I'll put it this way: If you went to class in high school and paid attention, you were already ahead of the game. If you go to all of your college classes, but don't do any of your reading, you're going to be doing a lot before the big test.

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Notes Are King

In high school, you probably studied heavily from the pages your teacher gave you with some additional info from your own notes and your textbook. In college, it's key that you have good notes because they're one of the most effective things to study with. Sometimes you don't have time to reread all those textbook chapters. TBH, rereading that textbook isn't even that effective. You need notes that have the important points summarized and explained.

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What To Study Is A Bit Of A Mystery

Those helpful cheat sheets you got in high school don't really exist in college. If you have a nice professor, they might guide you in a certain direction about what to focus on, but don't be surprised when someone asks what to study for the big test, your prof responds with, "everything." Pretty much everything and anything is fair game in college so you need to cover all your bases.

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You Have To Know The Material Inside And Out

In high school, if you knew the answer, you were golden. In college, you need to know the answer and be able to apply it to other things. It's part of that critical thinking thing that schools love but we despise. It's also what most long answer and essay questions focus on.

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Study Groups Can Help

In high school, study groups weren't really a thing. If you had one, it was really just an excuse for you to hang out with friends before you went and studied on your own. In college, study groups can actually make a difference. They give you new perspectives on the material, and when they're done right, they can help keep you focused and motivated.

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Review Days Don't Happen

The last lessons before a big test in high school were often about reviewing for it and getting us ready to all get A's. That rarely happens in college. Normally, you're learning new material right up to the last minute. And you know what, that stuff is going to be on the test.

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You Need To Study All Those Different Types Of Material

Textbooks, PowerPoint presentations, research papers, your messy notes, whatever you looked at this semester, you need to read. The material for your college test could come from anywhere. Unlike in high school, you knew that it was going to come from your one-and-only-textbook.

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You're On Your Own For Summarizing

Remember those good ol' days in high school where your teachers would summarize the chapters or the textbooks would even have chapter summaries? Unfortunately, you're almost never gifted those in college. It's up to you to make your own summary notes and draw your own conclusions.

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What other things have you noticed about college studying compared to high school? Let us know in the comments!

You can follow the author, Heather Cichowski, on Twitter.


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