Student Success


Student Tool Kit

Student Success Strategies

Hear What?! - Active Listening  

Being able to listen effectively and actively is more than simply hearing someone speak. It involves hearing and understanding what a speaker is saying and how it applies to you, then remembering it for future use during an evaluation. Even if you don’t find the topic particularly interesting, there are still ways to improve your listening abilities, as well as how well you recall the information later! Give these tactics a try in your next lecture: 

Screen Distractions 

  • Sit as close to the front as possible.  
  • Try to ignore unusual accents and habits of the speaker.  
  • Screen out background noise and your own. 

Get Active 

  • Maintain an upright posture. 
  • Keep eye contact with the speaker. 
  • Speak up during discussions. 
  • Ask questions. 

Recognize Organization 

  • Listen and look for a thesis statement. 
  • Main points should be followed by supporting information. 
  • An outline format may be helpful. 

Find Relevance 

  • Ignore irrelevant information. 
  • Connect what the speaker is saying to what you've already learned. 
  • Remember that not all information is important. 

The Ineffective Listener 

  • The subject is boring and does not apply to me. 
  • Judges how the speaker presents information- gets hung up on errors. 
  • Tends to make judgments before comprehending all information. 
  • Listen for facts. 
  • Takes excessive notes. 
  • Easily distracted. 
  • Passive – shows little interest and acts bored. 

The Effective Listener 

  • Pays attention by asking “What’s in it for me?”  
  • Judges the content of the presentation and ignores errors. 
  • Waits to access content until they have complete comprehension. 
  • Listens for central ideas and concepts. 
  • Records only important information. 
  • Fights distraction and knows how to concentrate. 
  • Active – stays involved with the speaker throughout the lecture. 

What You Can Do 

  • Find areas of interest even in a boring topic. 
  • Evaluate the content, not the delivery. 
  • Hold your fire – wait for the speaker to present their entire point. 
  • Listen for main points and patterns of organization. 
  • Focus on relevant material and screen out unnecessary anecdotes. 
  • Sit closer to the speaker and away from doors or outside noise. 
  • Work on active listening.  

10 Tips to Reduce Exam Anxiety
1. Wake up early so that you do not need to rush getting ready and eating
2. Check email for any possible updates on exam (time change, room change, cancellation)
3. Eat a balanced breakfast. No junk food.
4. Head to the exam early. You never know what unexpected events may happen.
5. Use restroom before the exam. Exams can be quite long and there is no time to waste.
6. Remember to write your name on the exam!
7. Read all questions and directions carefully.
8. Start answering the questions you are most confident in. Save difficult questions for last.
9. Use every minute of the exam. If you have time remaining, go back and double check
your answer.
10. Study far in advance and multiple times until you are comfortable with t

Increasing Concentration

Concentrating is hard especially if it is a hard subject or a boring subject. While studying has never been the most exciting aspects of college, it doesn't have to be the drag that it is made out to be. Implementing some effective study techniques, even the dullest subjects can be conquered with increased concentration during a study session. 


Find an appropriate study environment. eliminate distractions as much as possible while studying, so you can concentrate on what's in front of you. You want to find a place that is aesthetically pleasing and comfortable for you.  Perhaps the library would be a great location.



Gather all of your studying materials. Your studying materials include things like notes, textbooks, study guides, papers, highlighters, or anything else you might need to concentrate and be productive while studying; this includes a snack like a granola bar or nuts, and a bottle of water.

  • All your materials should be within arm's reach so you don't disrupt yourself by going to retrieve your things when you're in the zone, studying. 



Clear the study space. Clear away materials you don't need to study, and keep your space organized to reduce stress and allow for better concentration. Having any materials around you that don't directly contribute to your concentration only serve as potential distractions 



Unplug from unnecessary electronics and social media. Turn off any electronics that you don't need, especially cell phones, music listening devices, and perhaps computers (provided you don't need a computer to study your material). 



Stick to a routine. Arrange a schedule for study time, and keep with it.



Find a study partner. Sometimes reviewing material with someone else can help break up the monotony of studying



Think of an incentive. Before you start studying, think of something that can serve as a reward for you successfully studying. For example, after reviewing your history notes for 1 hour, talk to your roommate about your day, make dinner, or watch your favorite upcoming television program.  An incentive can motivate you to concentrate on studying for a specific amount of time. 



Find an effective study method. Finding an effective study method that suits you can help you stay concentrated while studying. Again, every person studies differently, so you will have to experiment and find a method that works best for you to maintain focus.


  • Making notecards. For vocabulary or academic terms, making notecards and flashcards and repeatedly reviewing them can help with memorizing words, terms, and concepts.
    • Drawing. Some studying requires reviewing structures and diagrams. Copying those diagrams and structures, and drawing them yourself allows you to create and visualize what it is you're trying to study, therefore making it more memorable.
    • Creating an outline. Creating an outline may help with mapping out bigger concepts including the smaller details. It can also help create visual sections and groupings of information that may help recalling details when exam time approaches.


Be an active learner. When reading or listening to a lecture, try to engage with the material. This means instead of just being present with the material, challenge it and yourself. Ask questions about what is being lectured.



Practice some mental concentration strategies. Working on improving your concentration takes time and patience. After practicing some of these strategies, you'll probably begin to see improvement within days. Some concentration strategies include:

  • Be here now. This simple and effective strategy helps bring back your wandering mind to the task at hand: When you become aware of the fact that your thoughts are no longer on your studies, say to yourself, “Be here now,” and try to reign in your wandering thoughts, and focus back on your study material.
  • For example, you're in class and your attention strays from the lecture to the fact that you're craving coffee and the last bagel at the Starbucks is probably gone by now. As you say to yourself, “Be here now,” you fix your attention back to the lecture, and keep it there for as long as you can. 



Set study goals. While the subjects you need to study might not be the most interesting topics, you can shift your perspective while studying to make concentrating easier. By setting goals for yourself, you change your studying experience from having to “get through,” the subject, to reaching check points and continually succeeding in progressing with your study session.[6]

  • For example, instead of having the mentality of, “I have to study all of chapter 6 tonight,” set a goal for yourself with something like, “I will study sections 1-3 by 4:30, and then take a walking break.” That way, conquering a study session transforms from a large, daunting task, to a smaller, more achievable portions. This sectional break up of study time increasing your willingness to concentrate and reach your studying goal. 



Ready, Set, Study 

As a general rule, prepare about 2 hours outside of class each week for every hour you spend in class. So, if you are taking 12 units, prepare to study 24 hours each week outside the classroom.  

CHUNK YOUR TIME. Studying an hour every day for 5 days will help you learn better than studying 5 hours the day before an exam. Remember to take a 10-15 minute break after about 45-50 minutes of studying 

Are you still feeling completely overwhelmed? Not sure which way to go? Use these simple steps to get you started on your next successful study session! 

Find the Perfect Place 

  • Study in an environment that works for you 
  • Easily distracted? Don’t study in the library under the stairs! Find an individual study room or an isolated corner with your back towards open spaces. 

Don't Avoid the Unavoidable. Study the Hardest Subjects First! 

  •  Study the harder or least favorite material first, when you are most alert and have the time. 
  •  Putting off the most difficult subjects only 

Use Published Resources 

  • Many textbooks have websites that have study guides, interactive tools, and chapter reviews online. 

Say “Good-bye!” to your phone, TV, e-mail, roommates, family, social networking sites 

  • Turn off your cell phone (and other distracting technology - networking websites, e-mail). 
  • Post a note on your door “Studying. Do not disturb. Check back in 45 minutes."  
  • Check voicemail and return emails on your study breaks. 

Review Old Tests  

  • Check with students who previously took the course for old study guides or exams 
  • This is a good way to find out the instructor's testing style and areas of emphasis. 

Get Ready, Get Set, Study!  

  •  With these tips, don’t get stuck at the red light. Get ready, get set, study! 

First Aid for your First Year 

Going to high school or a community college is quite different from attending a four-year university in a lot of ways. Not only do you have to adjust to a new campus, but there are also more demanding requirements made of you at the University level. The following tips offer “first aid” for your first year at Texas A&M University-Kingsville – use them before it becomes an emergency! 

Go To Class 

New students often hear that in college, "You can go to class anytime you want!" This is NOT TRUE. Some classes may not be that interesting, but you're not here to be entertained - you're here for an education. 

Know the University has Academic Rules 

No one memorizes all the rules, but you should know where to look. Check rumors with professors or advisors before changing anything! You don't want to be one of those students who says, "But nobody told me..." 

Budget Your Time 

Balancing academics with your personal life can be challenging, but it's essential for your success both in and out of the classroom. Read course syllabi and record key dates on a calendar or planner so they won't sneak up on you! 

Don't be a Hermit 

Getting involved in university life at TAMUK is just as important as going to class, but you need to be selective. Focus on participating in activities that will bring balance to your life, build your resume or help you network with others in a positive way. 

Be Patient with Yourself 

Bad grades can happen to good students. You are not doomed by goofing up - instead, be patient with yourself and utilize University resources, such as your advisor, for help. 

Get to Know Your Instructors 

These are the people who will evaluate your work, be references for future career options and help guide your development. Titles of "Doctor" and "Professor" can be intimidating only if you don't get to know them! 

Value Constructive Criticism 

Keep in mind that when professors critique your work, it's not personal. They are doing you a favor by helping you to focus on areas of improvement for the future. Taking responsibility for your own efforts and actions is a sign of maturity, not weakness. 

Communicate in the Classroom 

Chances are pretty good that if you didn't understand something in a lecture, some of your classmates didn't either. It may sound silly, but the dumbest questions are really the ones you never ask! 

Being a Student is a Full-Time Job 

You wouldn't expect to work only one day a week and get paid for full-time work, right? Neither is it smart to focus on a class one day a week and expect to get good grades. Thinking of college as your full-time job can help you keep things in perspective!