How to Study for Your Online Classes

As an online student, you get used to fitting coursework or study sessions in between everything else.

But when the end of the term is approaching, having a definitive study strategy can have big payoffs for your sanity and your degree plan.

Use these six tips along with what you’re already doing to create a new plan to tackle online courses and exams.

1. Make a Plan

A laptop casts light over an open textbook.Starting the first day of the semester, you should get in the habit of making an assignment and study plan based on your course syllabi in Moodle.

Having important dates noted on your calendar gives you a framework to build on once you have more information about what might be on an exam or areas where you may need to focus your efforts.

Online Health Services Administration student Bailey Meaux says he’s been able to maintain his GPA by using multiple calendars to stay on top of upcoming assignments.

“A majority of succeeding in online courses is balancing studies with our personal lives since we don’t have a clean-cut schedule,” he says. “Google Calendar and a paper calendar allow me to have my topics laid out week by week on my phone, laptop, and my actual desk. This might take work, but having visual guides of when to work helps drastically.”

Speaking of planning, if your instructor indicates you’ll need to use ProctorU or Examity, familiarize yourself with those services well in advance. Both online proctoring platforms require you to book your exam time and will charge more for last-minute appointments.

2. Create the Right Environment

If possible, designate space where other members of the household know is strictly for studying. Clear out the clutter, post your syllabus and study calendar, and get to work.

3. Make the Most of Your Time

As a student, your time is a precious resource. If your week feels strained, visualizing how you’re spending your time can help you maximize this limited commodity.

Block out the time you have to allocate to work, family, and other responsibilities so you can see where you can allocate time to study.

Once you’re in your “study zone” make sure that time is productive by limiting distractions. A great tool to encourage self-discipline and focus is the Pomodoro timer. The timer is part of a working or studying technique of working 25 minutes before taking a short, 5-minute break. Once you’ve achieved four, 25-minute sets, take a long, 10-minute break.

Jami Rush, director of UL Lafayette’s Learning Center, says the technique has helped her maximize her time as she pursues her doctorate.

“Anybody can focus on a task for 25 minutes, whether it’s read for 25 minutes or write for 25 minutes or study or create your flashcards — or whatever it is,” she says. “For four rounds of 25 minutes, you’re looking at a little less than two hours, and there’s so much accomplished because you’re not distracted during that 25 minutes going to different things. It’s a wonderful technique.”

4. Study for Your Learning Style

Everyone has a distinct learning style — some learn better by listening, others by reading, others by doing. For many, learning happens through a combination of these approaches.

Our Online Student Orientation prompts students to determine their learning style. The quiz can identify your learning styles to provide customized study tips.

For instance, visual learners may need to use flashcards or avoid distractions during study times. Tactile learners may need to rock in a chair while studying or arrange flashcards in groups to visualize relationships between ideas.

5. Plan a Virtual Study Session

Your classmates have perspective and knowledge. This is a resource — use it!

Connect with other students through Moodle forums to either connect in person or online through a platform like Microsoft Teams. Through UL Lafayette, all students have access to Microsoft office products, including Teams, by using their ULID. 

Review course materials, get feedback on papers or projects, and form valuable connections with future UL Lafayette alumni.

Remember: If you run into trouble during the semester, you have a team behind you.

Contact your instructor if you have a course-related issue. Your advisor is available to serve as a guide and advocate. If you need help navigating processes or figuring out who to contact, reach out at

About this Author
Hope has worked with online students for more than five years, telling their stories and sharing tips for succeeding as an online student.

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