The MLS Student Handbook

How to Study

Here is one approach:

  1. Organize the material for each course you take. For each course, have a space on your bookshelf in your study room dedicated to material from that course.
  2. Create room conducive to study (your study room). This space should be well-lit, quiet, and not subject to interruption. It should contain the appropriate furniture and equipment: table, chair, bookshelf, etc.
  3. Organize your study room so that
    1. your course materials are close at hand
    2. your desk or study area is properly lit
    3. there is a good fit between you and the equipment you use (in other words, proper ergonomics)
  4. Set aside the same block of time each day, six days a week, that you will devote to study.
  5. When you are taking a course, keep good notes and review them often.
  6. In each course you take, correspond often with other students in the class and with your instructor.
  7. For each course you take, find ways to integrate it with
    1. other courses
    2. your profession
    3. your personal life
    4. what is happening in the world (point six complies with Peter Drucker's admonition to "only connect" (page 192, Post-Capitalist Society, New York: HarperBusiness, 1994))
  8. Seek for ways to improve the effectiveness of your study.

If you have not been in school for a while, it may take a bit of time to adjust. Initially, you may only be able to read for short lengths of time before you become fatigued. Rather than be discouraged by this, use your initial experience as a benchmark against which you can measure your subsequent performance. You may even want to create a form you can use to answer the following questions:

  1. Effective reading time: how many minutes can I read before I become fatigued?
  2. Process speed: how many pages did I read in that period of time?
  3. Comprehension: how quickly did I understand what was written?

Next, work on incremental improvement in each of these three areas. For example, if your answer to the first question is "15 minutes," then each day try to increase it by five minutes. After just one week (seven days of reading) you will increase your effective reading time from 15 minutes to 45 minutes. If you study on a consistent basis, you will, by the end of ten weeks, achieve a noticeable improvement in effective reading time, process speed, and comprehension.

Tips on reading and note-taking:

  1. experiment with different ways of marking a book until you find a method that best fits how you think and how you remember.
  2. experiment with different ways of taking notes until you find a method that best fits how you think and how you remember.


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