8 Steps to Academic Success

Two students studying

Step 1: Set Goals

Goals help to keep you going by:

  • Providing direction
  • Increasing your attention and focus
  • Increasing your motivation and effort
  • Reducing your anxiety and increasing your confidence

Develop SMART goals that are: Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely

Step 2: Have a Positive Attitude

  • Be positive about your ability to succeed
  • Look forward to what your will learn
  • Have an inquiring mind: get curious about your subjects!

Step 3: Manage Your Time

  • Set a realistic schedule for yourself
  • Know where your time goes (awareness is key)
  • Study for 2-3 hours for every hour of class time (eg. if you have 6 hours of class per week, aim to study at least 12-18 hours per week).

Step 4: Read Textbooks & Course Readings

  • Survey chapters before reading; read the chapter summary, look for bold and italicized words to indicate important concepts
  • Review chapters and readings before class
  • Re-read chapter and readings after class
  • Make study notes

Step 5: Attend your Lectures

  • Intend to learn something each class you attend
  • Do assigned readings before class- you'll take better notes
  • Ask questions: this will enhance your learning process
  • Sit in the first few rows - you'll pay closer attention

Step 6: Record your Lecture Notes

  • Take notes in class
  • Review and edit notes after class (within 24 hours)
  • Aim for 3-4 major reviews of your notes before exams
  • Highlight import points, draw diagrams, make definitions

Step 7: Prepare for Exams

  • Review past exams
  • Make practice study questions
  • Memorize definitions and formulae - try cue cards
  • Know the type of exam to expect
  • Eat balanced meals and sleep 8 hours per night

Step 8: Write Your Exams

  • Have a positive attitude; do your best
  • Arrive early with an extra pen and any necessary supplies (e.g., calculator if permitted - with fresh batteries)
  • Read test questions and instructions very clearly
  • Budget your time; leave time for review
  • Relax and don't forget to breathe

Where to Get More Help?

  • Your instructors and program supervisors are available for help. See your instructor if you are having difficulty with course work. Your instructor may be able to review material for you, present material in another way that you find easier to understand, recommend supplementary texts or other readings, or recommend someone to tutor you. You won’t know what help is available unless you ask. Don’t wait until the last minute; get help in a timely manner. Your program supervisor can help you with things like course load, the repercussions on your program of withdrawing from a required course, and has authority to make changes to your program of study.
  • The Health & Wellness Centre, can help in two ways: with health care and with personal counselling. You don’t need to miss classes to have your health needs looked after, be it a bad cold or flu, a headache or upset stomach. If family problems or other personal matters are affecting your marks, talk to a professional counsellor. It can make a big difference, as many students discover. You can see a social worker, a psychologist, a psychiatrist or a physician/counsellor, all for free. For more information visit their webpage: www.utsc.utoronto.ca/hwc
  • The UTSC Library is geared towards serving students with various research needs and library experience. The staff have a reputation of helpfulness and approachability. Services include:​
    • Workshops in using library resources and the web for academic research
    • Individual appointments with a librarian to develop effective research strategies
    • Computers with access to the Web, e-journals and indexes, and multimedia programs
    • Research 101 webpages that provide brief information on doing library research
    • Book delivery service. See their webpage at www.library.utoronto.ca/utsc
  • The writing instructors at the Writing Centre, can assist students at any stage of the writing process, from drafting an outline of a paper to adding finishing touches. They can work with students on any research topic from Anthropology to English literature to Life Sciences and Management. Facilities include private seminar space and computers with software dedicated to writing needs. Check out the Writing Centre’s webpage at http://ctl.utsc.utoronto.ca, (Room AC210), or contact the Centre by telephone at 416-287-7562.  They also offer:
    • Individual consultations
    • Group workshops
    • Diverse electronic resources including an online diagnostic evaluation.
  • Your Financial Aid Advisor is here to help. Your university years are a valuable investment in time, energy and money. At the University of Toronto at Scarborough (UTSC), we will do our best to ensure our students have the financial assistance required to help them make this investment. Worrying about money problems can and will affect your studies and your success at university. Your Financial Aid Advisor can assist you with budgeting and financial aid concerns. Financial Aid Services offers a variety of seminars each year including:
    • Financing your graduate or professional school education
    • Paying back your student loan
    • Co-op students and student loans

Good Luck with your studies!