Seven Tips for Adjusting Your Study Habits During COVID-19

Posted by: Karen Coffey Hager, Disability Counselor

reaching for book with coffee in hand

Things may feel out-of-control right now. You may be facing a lot of unknowns and disruptions. Try to be patient with yourself, your classmates, and your instructors during this time. Making a plan and adjusting your studying may help you feel a little sense of control. Here are some tips to help guide you:

1. Stay organized.

With so many things changing in your courses, you might be reliving that first-week-of-class confusion at a finals-week pace. You may also be having to learn to pace yourself through your units, which can feel daunting. Here are some things you might want to track for each class:

  • Whether or not your class will continue to meet virtually at the regularly scheduled time.
  • If not, are there any new parts of the course you will now need to track in place of your class time, such as a discussion board?
  • Are assignments changing? Are there new due dates? Will any quizzes or exams be done online? What should you do if you need help?
  • Does the instructor have virtual office hours? When and on what platform?
  • Does the course have an online forum for asking questions?

2. Avoid multitasking.

If you do more work on your own and your time is less structured, you might be more tempted to multitask. Research shows that few people can succeed at doing multiple things at once or can switch between tasks quickly.

Consider working on a task for 25 minutes, then rewarding yourself with a 5-minute break. Research suggests this pattern helps achieve better concentration and alleviates “cognitive boredom” in most people. Here is a great resource to help you stay focused 25 minutes at a time!

3. Make the most of video lectures. 

Some tips:

  • Find out how to ask questions. Is there a chat feature? A discussion forum?
  • Close distracting apps and tabs to avoid multitasking.
  •  Continue to take notes as you would if you were there in person. Many studies show that notetaking builds the recall of material and helps to increase test scores.
  • Watch recordings at normal speed. Watching at faster speeds can decrease retention and result in lower test scores.

4. Set a schedule.

If you find your day lacking structure, setting a schedule for yourself can keep you on task and help you stay motivated. If you don’t already keep a weekly or daily calendar, try using one. Include time for movement, getting outside, and self-care.

If you don’t like sticking to a schedule, try keeping a general to-do list and just make note of important due dates on your calendar. You can use a reminders app on your phone to remind you when assignments are due or when you should get up and get some fresh air.

5. Find what works for you.

Everyone has different study habits and methods for retaining information. Maybe you need to study in a chair, rather than on your bed or couch. Maybe you need to move to a new spot when you change tasks. Do you need background noise? How about a white noise app?  If you always study in groups, try a virtual or phone-based study session with your peers.

6. Working with a group or project team.

Remote collaboration will look a little different, but it is possible. Try not to procrastinate. That group project may be out-of-sight, out-of-mind if you aren’t seeing your group members regularly. Try to set up virtual meetings on a recurring basis and take notes on a shared document so you can all stay on the same page.

7. Stay connected and engaged.

Even during social distancing, connecting with family and friends virtually can be more important than ever.


  • Scheduling video calls with family and friends. Talking to loved ones can be really helpful when you feel stressed or nervous about something.
  • Taking a break to laugh is also important.
  • Attend virtual office hours or study groups so that you can stay up on your coursework.

For more helpful tips and resources on navigating the transition to virtual education and admissions, check out some of the recommended blog posts below!

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