Study Habits


10-Year Member
5-Year Member
Feb 4, 2009
I know this is a little off topic, but I am working on my study habits this year. I want to learn good study habits for use at USNA. I am trying to fix my past study habits, which were almost nothing. This year my classes are a lot harder, and my grades are dropping. So what technique do you use?
First of all I always try to start EVERYTHING early! especially if it is a paper of studying for a test. If you do 20 minutes of it a night it will be done and over with before you know it and you are not up late the night before typing out a paper that may not be your best or trying to cram (which means the information is basically only in your short-term memory and therefore you truly haven't "learned" it).
The best thing I have found for reading textbooks is to first flip through the chapter noting any significant concepts that arise out of titles, etc. and also look at the pictures and their passages. Then read it once and then read it again taking notes (everyone has a different take on this- I write kind of like a section summary, focusing on only the main points). For the sciences like physics and chemistry (well generally CHEM II) I do more problems then my professor assigns and that really helps (it is time consuming but hey when you are studying for a test, they definitely come into handy :)...)!
And also look things up- if you have a genuine interest in something and look it up (but I would try document databases like EBSCO, not so much google- but google is definitely a great source of information :) ). And, when you take an interest in something you tend to learn it faster and it tends to stay with you. I tend to do this a lot for history.
For math, I read the chapter and again do 1-2 more problems of each problem type that was assigned to make sure I truly understand the concept (you may not have to study now but when you start getting into Calc/ advance Calc the majority of people have to).
English is typically your interpretation on something so your answer truly is never wrong (unless you have a very "firm" teacher), but learn to defend it with facts (I try to defend my arguments with about 80-90% facts and 10% opinion (granted if it's a timed writing that are typically seen in AP your opinion part is probably larger but then again usually you are writing about prose, theme, etc.).
I hope that helped! And Good Luck to you!

I was wondering though if any current mids could tell us whether or not the workload allows them to adequately study for things/ begin homework, papers, studying, etc, early/ and over all if they truly feel like the information is staying with them? And, what your funnest class has been to date :)?
wow, I'm very impressed with your study skills, I really just do the practice test and read over any notes I've already taken or just read the parts of the chapter I don't already understand from lectures...I hope this will still work next year because I'm a very auditory-oriented learner and learn almost exclusively from lectures and asking questions of the teacher
I'm a very tactile learner. I always have to touch things or physically write things down to remember them. What I do is re-read my in class notes(you should take good notes btw) and re-write/outline them onto a piece of paper. Make sure you are actually taking in the info at the same time and not just going on auto-pilot and copying them. I dunno if this will work for you, but it can't hurt to give it a shot.
Also, don't be afraid to go to your teachers for help, take good notes and pay attention in class.
USNA hopeful thank you for those...does anyone else find that they work as hard as USNA hopeful?
Just like with most colleges, the workload depends on the courses you take, and maybe on which professors you have. I've sat in a few classes during the CVW, and the professor of Naval History quized the class every week on things like "who was the president of the US during the Spanish-American War", or "what was The Great White Fleet"--in my opinion, it's a very simple course. On the other hand, classes like Linear Algebra seem pretty tough because the professor (who was the dean in my case) would call everyone to the board one by one, and no matter what you do he would say something along the lines of "let me make that perfect for you."
Overall, I'd say the level of difficulty of academics at USNA is about the same as of AP classes; although don't forget that at the academy you have a lot of outside activities such as memorizing pro knowledge (detailed info about military aircraft, ships, etc.), parades, sports, mandatory games, etc.
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I apologize, let me clarify... a lot of what I stated is VERY time consuming. I tried all different forms of studying/ doing homework, etc. starting in my ninth grade year of high school and tried hard to refine them to make sure they work for me. This system actually does not take me anymore time than any other of my friends and they also have their own system and work hard too. I really do not believe it's in the time that you take studying but the quality of your studying.
Everyone learns things differently (I have a twin brother and he and I learn things completely differently :)...) and I believe it's better to try things and see what works for you.
I apologize if anything in my post came off abrasive to anyone... I was just trying to help.
I predict how long it will take me to do an assignment, then time myself. I find that this keeps me on task (and off of facebook :rolleyes:).
Reverse perspective

Just some thoughts from the viewpoint of what I saw as a Battalion Officer when bad study habits placed midshipmen in academic jeopardy, plus what I've observed from those in our family of sponsored midshipmen who struggled. Work from this backwards and determine how best to organize yourself to be aware of bad habits or tendencies and capitalize on your strengths.

- Mids who sailed through high school by not studying much (reviewing material 10 minutes before school and acing the quiz) were shocked by the degree of difficulty, sheer volume of work expected and lack of time to get stuff done. They were completely demoralized and did not know how to discipline themselves to set priorities and invest hours.
- Procrastination was a factor for many mids in front of academic boards. There are a million ways to not do homework, whether it's sneaking in video gaming, Facebook, talking/texting/IMing with the gf or bf, eating junk food, shooting the bull, etc. Attack big projects a bit at a time as soon as they're assigned - brainstorm paper topics, get an outline done, do some advance research, start a folder. 15-20 minutes is enough time to get something done, don't piddle it away. Get the work done first, set limits on mindless stuff that doesn't move you forward. Figure out how long you can work effectively without a break, then schedule a break for a set amount of time doing something that flexes your mind in a different direction.
- Plebes think they have a plan to spend x hours on something, but then they get pulled away for company training, "mandatory fun," taking the duty for someone who's sick, any number of things, and those plans collapse. Time management is key to success, as well as prioritization. Start out with the assumption you can't leave something to the last minute, because that last minute will be snatched away, and you're off to a good start.
- Writing on a college level. Great to be able to text like the wind with every abbreviation known and spelling out the window, but articulate written English is a must for every naval officer. I saw midshipmen who were great at Calc and Chem labor to get C's for short papers.
- Reading fast, efficiently and with retention. Key.
- Taking good notes. Either written or on a laptop.
- Keyboarding skills -- anything that adds speed to typing papers, manipulating data, doing PowerPoint slides and other computer projects.
- Be organized. Capture syllabus assignments given out at the start of the semester, get due dates, quiz times, exam times organized on a calendar and come up with a plan that also meshes in football weekends (little time on Saturdays), duty rotations, holidays, etc. Know when you have to push harder in preparation for when several things come due at once. You should never be surprised by a due date.
- Stress management. You will be stressed. Understand how you deal with it and how you can talk yourself down, whether it's going for a run, allowing yourself 15 minutes to read a non-academic book or whatever. You will be cooped up in the pressure cooker with room-mates undergoing the same pressures, with nowhere to go.
- Learn how to ask for help. Yes, yes, none of you needed much help if you are getting into an SA, but study groups are a wonderful survival tool. Profs offer EI (extra instruction). The minute you start thinking, "I have NO idea what's going on in this class," get yourself to EI. Profs know what you're going through, and seeing you at EI can make the difference in how they evaluate your effort. USNA also has an Academic Skills Center, which can assist midshipmen with writing skills, organizing a paper, time management and other skills. There is plenty of help available. Ditch any pride and survive.
- Good reading on this thread as to how people learn. Anything that reinforced the knowledge using different senses worked for me. I'd take written notes, then close my eyes to envision formulas or relationships, then go for a long run and talk through what I knew out loud to hear myself. Some mids tape lectures (if not classified) and play them back to reinforce the notes.

Good news, you will get so good at juggling all the academic/athletic/military performance demands, that you will be an ace at time management and setting priorities the rest of your life, critical to success as a military officer and in civilian employment. It's just painful at first, more or less so for some, depending on the skills, discipline and self-knowledge you come onboard with.

Good luck! Enjoy this time before you go. You will be so caught up in plebe summer and the start of the academic year, you won't come up for air until Thanksgiving. You will also have a great deal of fun. You put that many bright, stressed folks in the pressure cooker, and the results can be hilarious sometimes. The anticipation is the worst.:thumb:
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