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Help with Procrastination, Test Anxiety and other Study Skills Challenges

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We all know that you can improve your physical skills with the help of a good athletics coach. But did you know that you can also improve your study skills and habits with the help of an Academic Skills Coach?

Maybe you’re struggling with time management and procrastination issues. Or maybe you feel panicked every time you sit down for an exam, or you get overwhelmed by the amount of reading you have to do each week. Stanford’s Academic Skills Coaches have developed an excellent website full of study tips, a skills inventory, and a weekly blog that guides you through the quarter. You can also meet with them individually to learn how to study and work more effectively.

Academic Skills Coaching website
Make an appointment with an Academic Skills Coach

Time Management

New Stanford students often find that managing their time is one of the most difficult tasks presented to them. Simply put, there is just too much to do on campus and not enough time in the week to do it all. You will occasionally need to make some hard choices.

Some Quick Tips:

  1. Be realistic with yourself. There are only 168 hours in the week and no way to make more of them. As much as you might like to, you can’t do it all. Try not to bite off more than you can chew. Watch this page and watch this short video for tips on fitting it all in.
  2. Plan. Map all deadlines and activities on a weekly calendar like the one you can find here. This should include study and prep time as well as in-class time.
  3. Prioritize. Figure out which of your obligations and responsibilities are flexible and which ones are not. Plan accordingly.
  4. Do not shortchange your health and well-being. Students often try to fit more time into the week by cutting back on sleep, exercise, or eating. This is not only unhealthy, but a sure-fire recipe for diminished returns. You simply cannot do your best work when you are sleep deprived. You need to take care of yourself first!
  5. Stanford has Academic Skills Coaches who can help you one-on-one with time management, improving your study skills, and more! You can set up a free appointment with a coach to get help any time.


We all know how these things happen. You get an assignment with a deadline a week or so out, but find yourself pulling an all-nighter the day before it is due, again...

Maybe you tell yourself:

  • You do your best under pressure.
  • You can't get started on a project unless you have enough time to do the whole thing at once.
  • You start work once everything is absolutely, perfectly, impossibly, ready.

Does any of that sound familiar?

Whatever story you've spun about procrastination, if you are tired of working at the last minute, or find that it is simply not working for you anymore, there are resources you can use to explore and address the underlying causes.

Consider making an appointment with an Academic Skills Coach to discuss your struggles with procrastination. Here are some words of wisdom on the subject by former Director of Stanford’s Learning Strategies Programs, Adina Glickman:

"In my book, procrastination does not entirely deserve its heinous reputation. True, procrastination is in many ways about avoidance, hesitance, even abject fear. But I say it’s also about problem-solving. Not your best problem-solving strategy, but an attempt nonetheless. What good does it do? In the moment, you are spared the anticipated stress of doing your work. Unfortunately, procrastination produces other stresses, like feeling guilty about not doing your work, feeling rushed because you are left with less time to do your work, and ultimately the worst of all worlds: not doing your best work because you’ve run out of time and are preoccupied by remorse and regret."

Read more about Procrastination from CTL here.

Managing Test Anxiety

Test anxiety got you down? Try some of these simple techniques from the Academic Skills Coaches to pace yourself and perform your best.

  • do some diaphragmatic breathing
  • warm-up beforehand with a question that’s familiar to you
  • break down big questions into several small questions
  • take a practice test with the same constraints as the real exam
  • remind yourself that a test is not a statement of who you are, but is in fact a blurry photo of a single moment in your intellectual journey

To hear more about how to de-stress during the test, check out this page from Academic Skills Coaching. You can also make an appointment with an academic skills coach to talk about more specific strategies customized for your needs.

Learning How You Learn

Every student learns differently, and exploring how you learn best can help you thrive in the classroom.  Consider exploring some of these additional resources if you want to better understand your learning profile.

  • The Schwab Learning Center at CHC supports students with learning differences, and can also help students who wish to be evaluated for potential learning differences.  Schwab services are free for Stanford students.  
  • The Student Learning Programs from the Center for Teaching and Learning.

See Also

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