When a child starts learning in school, they are usually taught using a curriculum that has been handed down from generations of teachers. While we’re not going to argue today whether this is good or bad we will say this; most children are never taught how to study.
This, obviously, is a bit of a conundrum. The reason is that children, once they start school, are being taught all of these new facts, new skills and even new thoughts. As they get older, many times the things they need to learn aren’t covered completely in school and thus need to be studied at home. If a child has never actually been taught how to study, they may find that learning without the aid of a teacher present isn’t all that easy. With that in mind we have a number of excellent tips that any student, whether in school or even college, can use to better their study habits and better their grades.
1. Time management. Use a calendar, whether on your computer or on paper, and set aside a certain amount of time every day to study. If you have several classes set aside specific amount of time for each one depending on their difficulty.
2. Don’t try to learn everything in one sitting. The fact is, your brain needs some time to form long-term memories. Study and chunks of 30 to 50 minutes and then take a 5 to 10 minute break. Doing something physical like throwing a Frisbee or playing with your dog will get your blood, and your brain, flowing.
3. Get enough sleep. ‘Cramming’ for a test might seem like a great idea but actually going to bed in little early and getting up early to study is a better idea than staying up until the wee hours of the morning and only getting three or four hours of sleep before school starts.
4. A study area that is quiet and calm and also has as few distractions as possible (where talking about you, Xbox) is vital to successful studying. If you live with several siblings who interrupt you constantly or your room has a flat screen TV you may consider studying at the library instead.
5. Although some people profess that they can study while listening to music or even while the TV is on, studies have shown that these are both detrimental to forming short-term and long-term memories. Our suggestion; follow tip number two and, when you take your break, watch a few minutes of TV or listen to some tunes.
6. If you have a lot going on in your head (and if you’re a teenager that’s pretty normal) you should consider writing out your thoughts on paper before you start studying so that you can clear your mind
7. If you need snacks to get you through try to avoid high sugar, high caffeine snacks that will give you a quick sugar rush but will also cause you to crash and want to take a nap, where you will lose everything that you just studied. Better to eat something like a banana or other piece of fruit that will give you energy but won’t have the same consequences.
8. While you are sitting in school and taking notes you should emphasise understanding what you are being taught over being neat and orderly. When you get home after school you can then go over your notes and rewrite them so that they are legible. This will also help them to stick in your mind a lot better. Besides that, rewriting your notes is an excellent and active studying approach that the best students all use.
9. If you have ever seen a newspaper (and that is a big ‘if’ these days) you will see that they have headlines and then the body of the story. This is so that readers can quickly go to the most important parts. You can do this when you are studying also, reading the introduction, the headings and the first couple of sentence says of every paragraph. Statistically, these parts of the book are the ones that will more heavily be asked on a test. Using a highlighter is also an excellent idea so that, when you go back and read study before a test, you can go right to the most important parts and skip the ‘fluff’.
10. Last but certainly not least are the old standby, flashcards. These days there is a new fangled way to get the same advantage and that is with a flash card app on your smartphone. No matter which you use flashcards are a great way to memorise lots of facts before a test.
11. BONUS. Every textbook has a vocabulary section as well as a glossary and sometimes, at the end of every chapter, a list of terms. Study these parts of your textbook heavily because many times these are exactly the terms and words that will be focused on during a quiz or test.