south texas college

HIST 2301 Course Guide

Study Skills

The Study Cycle

Using the Study Cycle improves studying techniques and helps you successfully recall information learned from the class or textbook. 


  • Skim new material before class
  • Write down important ideas
  • Should take about 5 - 15 minutes


  • Do not miss class
  • Use effective note taking strategies
  • Participate in class


  • Fill in any notes missed
  • Read notes
  • Mark unfamiliar concepts for review
  • Should take about 10 - 15 minutes


  • Use study strategies that work well for you
  • Such as: traditional flashcards, Quizlet, read material aloud, study groups, annotate text, concept maps, etc.
  • Should take about 30 - 50 minutes


  • Can you teach what you studied to someone?
  • Were your study methods effective?

Reading Tips

Reading with a purpose

Reading a textbook can be difficult and boring at times. A textbook is very different from reading a novel. Textbooks are not meant to read through page to page like a novel.

 The following strategies are great for reading a chapter of a textbook and retaining what you read. Follow the following steps to help you read with a purpose.


Flip through each page of the chapter.

Just look to see what’s on each page, do not read, look at the pictures, how long is the chapter, are there graphs, does anything jump out at you? This will give you a sense of how long the chapter is and what to expect.


Check the end of the chapter for a quiz/review questions.

The review/quiz at the end of the chapter is what the author wants you to understand most about the chapter you read. Write down each question, review them, understand what each question is asking, do not answer questions yet.


Read the bold print of the chapter.

The bold print is your guideline while reading, it shows you the heading of what you are reading and will help you breakdown the information. So simply look through the chapter and read the bold print quickly. *Keep your review questions handy while reading the bold.


Finally, begin to read the chapter.

Now that you have previewed what the chapter is about and your brain is set up and ready to absorb the information, begin to read the chapter. While you are reading have your review questions you wrote down and answer them as you read.


As you read the chapter and answer the review questions, you will feel very accomplished because not only are you reading the chapter, but you finally are reading with a purpose and feel a sense of accomplishment which WILL translate to academic success.


Tips for Students: Strategies for Reading


In Essential Study Skills, Eighth Edition, author Linda Wong defines active reading as “… the process of using effective strategies to engage working memory to achieve specific reading goals” (267). To help students put the active reading process into action, Wong includes a checklist of active reading strategies. We’ve adapted these below. Encourage your students to adopt these strategies for reading… they’ll find that they get even more out of their study time.




Suggested active-learning strategies for reading course materials

  • Before you sit down to study, grab a pen or pencil. Take down notes as you read. If you’re working with printed materials, underline essential facts and ideas and jot down notes in the margins. (Review some additional tips for effective note-taking.)
  • Write the key terms, ideas, and dates from the reading onto index cards; use these as flashcards to review at a later time.
  • Create study tools as you go! For example, you could write your own practice test questions. If you see a diagram, copy it into your own notebook. Or, to take it a step further: take an idea, process, or concept that’s covered in a section of the text, and see if you can create your own chart or diagram that illustrates the information you need to learn, know, and do.
  • Carefully consider how each paragraph of the piece is structured. This active reading strategy will help you think critically about the points and arguments presented in the reading.
  • Look closely at any photographs, illustrations, and diagrams included in the reading material. Make notes on these as well: they’re more than illustrations… they convey important information about the subject you’re studying.

Reference: Wong, Linda. 2015. Essential Study Skills, 8th ed. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.


Note-Taking Strategies

Annotating and Marking the Text


Annotating and marking the text are active reading strategies that allow the reader to interact with the text. This enhances the reader’s understanding of, recollection, and reaction to the text. Annotating and marking the text can involve highlighting, underlining, circling, and writing notes, questions, comments and summaries of your readings in the margins.

Marking the Text

  • Box words you don’t know.
  • Circle and or Highlight key terms or concepts, names of people, places, dates, repeated words, and historical events.
  • Underline central claims, main idea, facts, descriptions of a person, place, thing, or idea. It is also important to underline evidence that can support the prompt, a cause and effect relationship, and evidence that can help address a counterargument.


Annotating the Text

  • Comment on interesting or surprising information.
  • Signal where important information can be found with key words or symbols in the margin.
  • Write short summaries in the margin.
  • Write questions in the margin next to the section where the answer can be found.
  • Indicate steps in a process by using numbers in the margin.

Cornell Note Taking Method


The Cornell Method is a system for condensing, organizing, and reviewing notes.


  • Use a ruler to create a 2.5-inch margin on the left side of the paper, leaving a 6-inch area on the right in which to make notes.
  • Towards the bottom of your paper you will leave a 2-inch area to write a summary of your notes in one or two sentences.
  • During class, take down notes in the 6-inch area, called the Note Taking Area.
  • As soon as possible after class, fill in any incomplete phrases and sentences.
  • For every significant bit of information, write keywords in the left margin, known as the Cue Column.
  • Spend about 10 minutes after class reviewing your notes: Cover your class notes with a card, leaving keywords exposed. Say the keyword out loud, then say as much as you can recall of the material in the Note Taking Area. The card should only be moved once you have reached the bottom of the page to check if what you said aloud was correct. If you can say it, you know it.
  • Write a summary overview of your notes at the bottom of the paper.


Click on either one of the pictures above to get a printable copy. 

Click on the picture above to get a printable copy of the Outline and Charting Note taking Methods.