5 Strategies for Success

  1. Adapt your study habits

    You can learn anything, but you may need to change your study habits to perform in line with your goals. This is because learning is a cycle that requires adaptation and reflection.

    There are a number of things you can do as a learner to support your success, like setting study goals or trying new and different study strategies, some of which you might be doing already!

    Give yourself opportunity to reflect on which habits are going smoothly and which might need more work. Change anything that you feel is not working for you, and then reflect on that again when you have tried it.

    Not sure how to adapt your study habits? Try taking a Learning Strategy Inventory or check out study tips from your peers on How I Learn Best!
  2. Manage your time

    Overall, effective time management requires that you know what you have to do and how much time you have to do it. This means you need to know your priorities, be organized with both your time and resources, and have a plan for getting your stuff done—avoid procrastination at all costs.

    Give yourself structure with a to-do list and by setting and maintaining a schedule. This includes creating a routine, planning study time, as well as setting a time for meals, breaks, etc. Divide up your workload into manageable chunks. Break down classes into assignments and assignments into smaller pieces and then check tasks off one-by-one. However, avoid doing too many things at once—focus on one thing at a time by creating a list based on your priorities and work accordingly.

    While it can sometimes be challenging to stay motivated and keep a structured schedule, there are many ways you can practice effective motivation management, like having clear goals, rewarding yourself for achieving them, checking in with someone else who also set a schedule, and building in time for breaks.

    Looking for support with how to manage your time? Attend a time management workshop or check out the resources from Tutorial Services!
  3. Tune out the noise

    To stay focused on coursework when studying from home or attending an online class, limit distractions by silencing your devices and closing non-essential tabs in your browser, including non-course related chat windows. Create a designated work environment in your living space, devote structured times of day to coursework, and keep it consistent. Do your best to avoid working from your bed, since your work environment and your rest environment should be separate.

    Get your sleep! Sleep is instrumental to the learning process since getting enough sleep is essential for your brain to be able to retain and process information. Getting enough sleep is often overlooked as one of the most essential strategies for supporting learning and development.

    You may also want to reward yourself with a break or treat for doing what you need to do, as that can help keep you focused and feeling positive—a positive mindset can help you learn!

    Looking for a safe study space on campus? Take advantage of the McGill Library Study Hubs!
  4. Ask questions

    If you have a question, ask it! You should ask for help and clarification if you need it, especially since chances are that you are not the only one with the same question. Effective communication also goes a long way in support of clarifying expectations.

    Communicating heavily through email or online forums can feel foreign to how we communicate in person; just be sure to keep it respectful and relay your question or message as effectively as possible (e.g., via the preferred method indicated by your instructor).

    You can also turn to other students in your course to create virtual study groups and connect through Zoom, Microsoft Teams or on myCourses discussion boards. Consider asking other students questions before turning to your instructor and use the time to hold each other accountable to work on collaborative assignments or discuss readings.

    Looking for further resources? TLS has created short videos on how to Make your Emails Count and Get the Most out of a MyCourses Discussion Forum!
  5. Stay connected

    While continuing your studies, you may be spending more time learning and studying independently. It is important to remember you are a member of the McGill, Montreal, and Global community (as well as many others!) and there are several ways to remain connected to the resources and support available to you.

    Looking for activities to support your wellbeing and connect with your peers? The Student Wellness Hub offers workshops and groups or get involved in the Students Helping Students peer programs!


While this web page is accessible worldwide, McGill University is on land which has served and continues to serve as a site of meeting and exchange amongst Indigenous peoples, including the Haudenosaunee and Anishinabeg nations. Teaching and Learning Services acknowledges and thanks the diverse Indigenous peoples whose footsteps mark this territory on which peoples of the world now gather. This land acknowledgement is shared as a starting point to provide context for further learning and action.

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