Study Skills FAQ

I am not doing well in my courses. Where can I get help?

If you are struggling in your studies, the Academic Advising & Career Centre  study skills services can help. You can attend our workshops offered throughout the year. We also offer one-on-one assistance through both Study Skills Peer Coaches and Academic & Learning Strategists. Visit the centre and our website to access a range of additional resources, such as study skills tip sheets and our resource library in AC213. You can also access support through the Centre for Teaching & Learning (CTL).

I'm having some family issues and can't concentrate on my studying. I don't want my personal issues to affect my GPA. Who can I talk to about this?

Your first step should be to meet with an Academic & Learning Strategist who can discuss your options with you. You may also be referred to the Health & Wellness Centre, where you can discuss personal issues with a health care provider. It's important to see an Academic & Learning Strategist as soon as possible, before your personal issues negatively impact your GPA.

I did well in high school, but my grades really dropped in first year. Is this normal? What can I do about it?

It is common for students to struggle with the transition from high school to university. Many students experience a 10-15% drop in their first year GPA as compared to their GPA in high school. In addition to the increased workload, the level of difficulty of the material increases significantly. Additionally, many students are away from home for the first time, and that freedom can bring additional issues and challenges.

There is a lot you can do to improve your grades. Perhaps you're approaching studying in the same fashion as you did in high school. Studying at the university level is very different: It requires more time and different skills. You can learn more about these skills by attending our study skills workshops.  You can also visit the Academic Advising & Career Centre (AA&CC) to access resources, work on your academic plan and discuss the steps you can take to improve your study skills.  If you are having challenges with writing or language, you can also access the services at the Centre for Teaching & Learning (CTL).

I procrastinate on my assignments. I think it's affecting my grades and I feel frustrated with myself. What can I do about this?

There are many reasons students procrastinate. It can range from disinterest in the course material to fear of failing. Procrastination is actually quite complex, but awareness is the first step. Try using the Assignment calculator, which will help you break down the assignment into manageable pieces and provide you with a list of online resources.

The Academic Advising & Career Centre (AA&CC) offers the Stop Procrastinating - Get Motivated! workshop and a Procrastination tip sheet. You can also schedule an appointment with an Academic & Learning Strategist or a Study Skills Peer Coach who can explore this issue with you and help you take steps to improve them.

Why can't I do well on multiple-choice tests? I do really well with essay questions.

Some students may feel they are at a disadvantage when it comes to performing well on multiple-choice questions (MCQs). Sometimes students feel overwhelmed by the large number of questions they have to answer (versus two or three essay-type questions). As well, MCQs tend to test for detail, so if you're not a detail-oriented person, you may find these types of questions more difficult. Finally, you can't provide details to justify your answer on an MCQ like you can on a short-answer or essay-type question.

There are many things you can do to do to improve your performance on MCQs. Knowing the material thoroughly is the first place to start. If the exam is problem-based, spend lots of time doing problems. Practice does make perfect. Be sure to watch your time when you're writing MCQ exams as you’ll want to answer as many of the questions as possible. For additional MCQ study tips, attend the Academic Advising & Career Centre’s (AA&CC) Mastering Multiple Choice Tests and Exams workshop, and check out our Multiple Choice Tests and Exams tip sheet.

How many hours should I study per week in order to get good grades?

The general rule of thumb is to study 2-3 hours for every hour you spend in lecture (not lab or tutorial.) For example, if you spend ten hours a week in class, expect to put in another twenty to thirty hours reviewing your notes, doing your readings, working on assignments, etc. It may seem like a lot, but putting in enough time is crucial if you want to master your course material and get good grades.