Most colleges and universities advise students that they should plan to spend two to three hours studying outside of class for every credit unit they are taking each semester. So a student taking 12 credits a semester should plan to spend at least 24 to 36 hours a week studying outside of class.
Obviously, some classes might require less study time than other. If you are very familiar with a topic or it is simply an area you naturally excel in, then you probably won't need to spend quite as much time outside of class. For subjects that are particularly difficult, you might need to devote even more than the recommended amount of study time each week.
I recently had a discussion about this suggested guideline with a group of college students. One student added up how many hours a week she spent doing various activities including sleeping, working, commuting and attending class. Her conclusion? There weren't enough hours in the week for her to fulfill her other commitments and and spend the recommended two to three hours for every credit hour studying. A couple other students quickly pointed out possible solutions to the problem, including reducing the course-load each semester, cutting back on extra-curricular activities and squeezing in extra blocks of study time throughout the week.
Of course, studying doesn't just involve test preparation. Reading the required chapters, attending study groups, doing homework assignments and reviewing class notes all count toward that recommended study time. Effective time management is a good way to ensure that you have plenty of time to study outside of class, but there are a few ways you can sneak in extra study sessions here and there.
For example, strive to spend 10 to 15 minutes before class reviewing your notes from the previous class session. Then, try to spend another 10 to 15 minutes after each class reviewing your notes from that day. Going over the material while it is still fresh in your mind is a great way to retain more information and helps you be better prepared to participate in class discussions.
While you might really try to get in the recommended amount of outside study time, take a moment to think about how much time you really spend studying each week outside of class. Is it more or less than the recommended guidelines? Can you think of any ways to increase the amount of time you spend studying each week?
Photo by Sanja Gjenero