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Simple but effective tips from the Connexion team:

1. Always sit in the first row of class. This will keep you engaged with the teacher.

2. Make sure the teacher knows your first and last name and go to office hours at least four or five times a semester.

3. Be friendly rather than smart aleck-y to your teacher. Just swallow your pride. Teachers really do have favorites, and it’s harder to grade favorites poorly.

4. Participate in class. Don’t allow yourself to go through a class without asking a question or making a comment.

5. Take exceptional notes in class.

6. If you find yourself in a situation where you don’t have enough time to do the reading, “speed read” through the material. Carefully read the sections that you will be graded on and skim the rest. This is where your “exceptional notes” will come in handy, and make reading less of a burden. Most books have summaries at the end of each chapter, or colored boxes throughout that highlight or emphasize the most important points.

7. If the reading will be discussed in class, try to skim it over right before class. If you did not find time to read the book thoroughly, let the class discussion start up a bit so that you can get a sense of the material from other’s comments.

8. You may want to search online to see if your textbook has an accompanying website. There are often practice quizzes and chapter summaries on such sites that teachers use themselves. Many teachers pull questions from these practice tests and use them in class. And if your textbook comes with a CD, don’t be too shy to explore what it offers.

9. Study for tests alone (in silence) as well as in groups. Share notes, don’t be shy, and you will be able to learn significantly from other people’s perspectives. Make sure these groups aren’t too large so you can have a chance to ask questions. Become friends with your fellow classmates so that you can organize study sessions and borrow notes easily.

10. Get a day planner (PDA, paper calendar, whatever you prefer) and write down ALL of the assignments that you know of for each class. Spend one weekend in the beginning of each semester writing everything out (including sports or other obligations), and update it daily as you receive new assignments. Spend plenty of time reviewing your tasks each day, and planning how you're going to accomplish those tasks. Being organized will save you time and cut down on forgotten assignments or last-minute essays.

11. Always complete every extra-credit opportunity. Free points!

12. Try to exercise three or more times a week and eat well. This will help you relieve stress and concentrate. Remember, as a student you’re an academic athlete – and the classroom is your playing field. So stay in shape. Get outside, get your heart pumping, cut down on junk foods, have healthy snacks and feed your brain! There is an old saying, “without food there is no learning.”

13. Take a ten to fifteen minute break for every hour of study. If you are allowed one, pets reduce stress levels and provide a helpful time-out. If you can’t own a pet, try to find a simple hobby that you can focus on for ten minutes as a study break. You can meditate, exercise, play guitar, juggle, close your eyes and enjoy some music etc. These breaks are an important part of the learning process: they help recharge the memory and attention reservoirs in the brain.

14. Remember to get plenty of sleep the day before tests. Neuroscience tells us that learning involves making new pathways and connections in the brain. Sleep helps hardwire and sustain these new connections while transferring short-term memory to long-term memory. In other words, sleep helps us remember what we studied a lot better than all-night cram sessions.

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