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Academic Study Skills

This guide can assist you to increase your understanding of course material, improve your marks, and make learning a little less stressful. Here you will find strategies for time management, reading and note-taking, study skills, and test-taking.


When attending school online, it is important to remember what your body needs to be physically healthy. In order to have the energy to study and attend classes online, we need to make time to eat healthy, nutritious meals. This means scheduling time to go to the grocery store and making time to prepare healthy meals.

It is also important to plan for regular exercise through online exercise apps or spending active time outdoors. Similarly, it is important to arrange your daily schedule so you get 7-8 hours of sleep each night.

Eating nutritious foods, getting regular exercise, and adequate sleep are all necessary to maintaining good physical health which will, in turn, help you succeed with your studies.

Eating Healthy

Your body depends on food to get the nutrients it needs to function. It is important to plan ahead and make time to eat healthy, low-sugar foods in order to ensure you have the mental capacity to succeed with your studies.

Healthy eating supports a healthy immune system and provides enough energy to focus and stay alert.

  • Foods that are rich in fiber, protein, and healthy fats, keep the body feeling full longer.
  • Good eating habits now, may prevent heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and cancer in the future.
  • Drinking water regularly helps you stay hydrated and improves your focus.

Unhealthy eating can make it difficult for you to concentrate.

  • Foods that are  full of sugars, caffeine, and sodium leave you feeling tired, unfocused, and jittery.
  • Foods too high in sugar cause your body’s energy levels to drop instead of rise, so after a quick rush you have less energy to study.
  • Watch this TED talk to learn more about How sugar affects the brain.

Eating well takes time and planning. You need to make time to do regular grocery shopping sessions in person or with delivery. Make sure to:

  • Plan out your grocery list in advance to save time in the store.
  • Plan out your meals before shopping so that you have good ingredients on hand.
  • Buy healthy, nutritious food: fruits, veggies, and legumes.
  • Buy or make healthy snacks in advance.
  • Learn to cook a new dish using a video on Youtube.
  • Use these templates to plan your meals:

Exercising at Home

Sometimes when we work or study from home we have a less active lifestyle. More of our time is spent sitting at a desk, in front of a screen. It is important to make time in your schedule to exercise so that you can feel energized and refreshed.

  • Exercise increases the production of biochemicals in the brain related to mental function and memory.
  • Exercise will even out your mood, improve sleep patterns, and build self confidence.
  • Watch this TED talk about The brain-changing benefits of exercise.

Outdoor time is important for our emotional and physical well-being. Spending time outdoors in nature helps us to:

  • Increase feelings of well-being.
  • Increase our attention span.
  • Decreases our stress levels.

With a little creativity we can arrange for an at-home exercise program:

  • Place your computer at a counter to spend part of the day standing.
  • Use household items to exercise such as, water bottle weights and chair push-ups
  • Use an online exercise program.
  • Use household chores as a form of activity.
  • Have a dance party.

Good Sleep Habits

It can be tempting to stay up late watching a movie or getting school work done but, in fact, having a regular sleep cycle is important for our emotional well-being.

When you are sleep deprived you:

  • Struggle to stay focused.
  • Take longer to complete tasks.
  • Are less creative.
  • Have reduced motivation to learn.
  • Are less able to manage competing demands.

Sleep deprivation can affect your health:

  • You will be three times more likely to develop a cold.
  • You are more likely to make mistakes or cause accidents.
    • The Chernobyl nuclear explosion, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and the Challenger space shuttle disaster were all the result of human error caused by sleepiness.

What can you do to improve your sleep habits?

  • Eat supper early and don’t go to bed hungry or with a full stomach.
  • Avoid nicotine and caffeine. Both can make it difficult to fall asleep.
  • Use curtains to make your room darker and more restful.
  • Exercise and outside physical activity can help with healthy sleep habits.
  • Establish a regular sleep schedule of 7-8 hours each night.
  • Use an alarm to wake up in the morning so you are on time for morning classes, workshops, and group meetings.
  • Avoid taking naps, you will feel more rested if you get your sleep at night.

Sleep resources:


Chen. G. (2018, December 24). How diet and nutrition impact a child’s ability to learn.  Public School Review

Cohen, S., Doyle, W. J., Alper, C. M. et al. (2009, January 19). Sleep habits and susceptibility to the common cold. Arch Intern Med. 169(1):62-67.

Hamlin, A. (n.d.). 5 reasons why all school food should be healthy. Onegreenplanet.

Ingraham, C. (2019, July 19). People who spend more time outdoors lead more fulfilling lives, new research shows. The Washington Post.

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2019, Feb. 8). Sleep tips: 6 tips to better sleep. Mayo Clinic.

Options for Youth. (n.d.). The importance of eating healthy for students. Options For Youth.

Ordeonez-Lancet, J. How Spending Time Outdoors Can Boost Student Academic Potential. National Wildlife Federation.

Postal, K. (n.d.). Think better: Exercise. Karen Postal.

Reynolds, G. (2016, July 28). To boost memory, study, wait, exercise. The New York Times Blog.

Reynolds, K. (2018). How sleep deprivation affects work and performance? HULT International Business School.

University of East Anglia. (2018, July 8). It's official -- spending time outside is good for you. Science Daily.