The following suggestions will help you improve your study skills. Remember, you do not have to do all of this at once. Learn them and be familiar with the suggestions. Make them a habit one at a time. It will become easier to do your work and your study time will be more efficient.
Set up a schedule. For classes that are harder, make sure you give yourself more time to study or do homework. Also, make time for recreation and social activities; they are just as important as your grades.
Start studying for 10-15 minutes at a time and then build up to longer periods of time. Start reading/studying for 10-15 minutes. Then build on that by 10 minutes once you become comfortable studying for at least an hour at a time. Work hard, but be realistic. If you can no longer concentrate or remember what you have read, stop. Do not waste valuable time.
Prioritize your work. Do the hard stuff first. Your brain will be fresh and all the easy stuff will still be easy later.
Schedule long-term projects. Large projects should be broken down into smaller, more manageable parts. Allow enough time to complete projects so that you don't stress yourself out with last-minute rushing.
Take breaks. Take breaks when studying. Do not attempt to cram! Study small portions of material, take a break and then study some more. You will retain more information when you break it down into smaller portions that you can manage. You do not want to get burned out.
Reward yourself. Reward yourself for studying, learning a difficult topic or completing a project. Go to a movie, spend time with your friends or do the things you put off in order to study. You are more likely to study again and concentrate if you know there is a reward at the end of completing a task.
Find a good location. Where you study can determine how much you can concentrate. Make sure the place is comfortable, but not too comfortable. Sitting at a desk or table is best. Avoid lying across the bed. You should try to study in the same type of situation that you will be testing. This helps with remembering the things you studied for a test.
Use the same place for studying. This will help you with your memory when it is time for a test. It will also help you to concentrate better, because you will be in a routine or habit of studying in the same place.
Make sure you have a quiet place to study. Having a quiet place to study is very important. Playing your favorite CD, radio station or TV will get in the way of your concentration.
Eliminate the obvious distractions. Talking on the phone or texting are major distractions when you are trying to study. Other distractions that you should avoid are the radio, TV, video games or even people talking around your study area. Even seeing your books for another class can distract you. So, put them away until you are ready to study for the next class. Once you get rid of as many distractions as possible, you will improve your study skills.
Study at the same time every day. Figure out what time of day you can best concentrate and what works into your schedule. Establishing a study ritual makes for better information retention.
READ! Every day, take at least twenty minutes just to read.
Emotional moods can affect concentration. Try studying in a similar emotional mood you have during a test. This also increases your memory during testing. When you are too relaxed during studying it does not match the same level of emotions as when testing. This also works in reverse. If you are too psyched-up or tense during your test, you will not be able to remember what you studied. This is why it is important that you learn to calm yourself down during tests.
Review regularly. Homework isn't just the stuff assigned every night. A regular review of your notes should be part of your homework plan.
GENERAL STUDY HINTS FOR MOTIVATION AND ORGANIZATION
Organize class material. Keep materials for each class separate. Try learning material for each class at different times. Review the night before or a few hours before a test.
Go to class. If you want to do well in school, attendance is important. If you miss class, you miss what the teacher thinks is important; hence, what is most likely to end up on a test.
Participate in class. In order to learn more in class it helps to participate in class discussions. Asking questions to clarify material can increase your focus during class. If class material is difficult, it helps to read the material before you go to class as well as afterwards.
If you must miss a class, let your teacher know. It is also very helpful to have a reliable classmate from whom you can get the notes. Exchange telephone numbers with someone who is doing well in the class in case of an unplanned absence.
Take good notes. Try not to write down everything. All you need are the main points; put them into your own words. Write any unfamiliar terms. Review your notes as soon after class as possible. You can fill in details that you missed and review the material while it is still fresh in your mind.
Use your textbook. Some teachers follow the book closely. In this case, it is helpful to take the book with you to class and write down topics or terms and write notes from the book.
Talk to your teacher. If you are struggling in class, talk to your teacher. He or she may be able to give you more help or tutor you before or after class. Most teachers have little sympathy for students who become concerned about failing during the last few weeks of the grading period.
Form study groups. Get students together who are motivated to do well in the class. Make sure that everyone is familiar with the material, because you do not want to spend time re-teaching material to people who do not understand. Be careful that your group session doesn't become a chatting session. Set yourselves on a goal and then once completed have your chatting session.
Start at the beginning. Start studying from the first day of school. It's never too late, but you have to make the decision to make the effort.
Keep organized. Try to keep your backpack, folders and locker in order. You should be able to locate papers at any moment when a teacher requests them. Also, keep in mind that some classes require more effort than others. For example, Math and foreign languages are subjects which require daily work. These subjects build on materials from the day before, so you have to keep up in these classes.
EFFECTIVE READING TIPS
If you know how to read a textbook, you will understand and remember what you have read. Three simple tools that you can do to read more effectively are:
SCAN: Scan the chapter in the book. Look at the boldface terms, charts, graphs, headings & subtitles, maps, photos & illustrations, summary and review questions. Scanning provides you with information in a short amount of time. You get a quick view of the information and it prepares you for what you are about to read.
READ: When you read, have a purpose. This helps you to stay focused and understand what you have read. Ask yourself questions as you read. "What does this word mean?, Why is this event important?," etc. You should be a detective while you read. Look for answers to your questions while you read. When you finish reading, you should have answered all of your questions as well as the review questions.
REVIEW: Once you have finished reading, take the time to go one step further. Go through the scanning process again and look at the bold words, italicized words, charts, pictures, headings, etc. Make sure you understand what you have read. You can even make flash cards of the different headings or events that took place in your reading. You will be amazed how much you remember when it is time to review for the test.
IMPROVE YOUR MEMORY
If you want to improve your memory, here are some tricks you can learn.
Acronyms: Anacronym is when you make a word from the first letter of each word to be memorized. For example, HOMES for the Great Lakes (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior).
Acrostics: Acrostics are phrases or poems in which the first letter of each word or line functions as a cue to help you recall the words that you are trying to remember. For example, "Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally" is used to remember the order of operations in Math.
Narrative: Make up a story with the list of words throughout the narrative to help with memorization.
Rhymes: Rhyming can help retention of information. Remember the phrase "I before E except after C" ?
Imagery: Draw or imagine a picture of what's being studied or find one in a book. Mentally refer to the picture when you are testing.
Visualization: Use graphic organizers to help organize and remember information.
Flash Cards: When information is written out on cards you have access to studying at any time.
Stress can have a negative effect on learning. Try out different ways to reduce stress.
Go for a walk. Take a nap. Play with a pet. Take a bath. Listen to music. Talk to a friend. Exercise. Write in a journal. Write a letter that you never send. Do something creative such as an art project, write a poem or write a song. Read.
Every moment in our life is an opportunity to be mindful and yet many of us forget to simply observe our thoughts and emotions. Instead, we often react to our thoughts and emotions and create additional stress for ourselves and others. Furthermore, this reactive way of living can sometimes lead to chronic pain (emotional, mental and/or physical).
Be mindful when you eat. Slow down and enjoy your meal. Watch the tendency to eat "on the go" or while you're multi-tasking.
Be mindful when you work. Whether you are at home or work, the mind always has a "to-do" list. Watch the thoughts that make you feel that you HAVE to get it all done today. Having a list is important, but know that you can choose to breathe easily through it all without stress. Cross things off of the list as you get them done, but remember that there will always be a list.
Be mindful when you play. Are you present when you're being active or are there a thousand things on your mind? Watch your thoughts and don't let them reduce the quality of your play time. Focus on your play time and it will be more enjoyable.
Cognitive Restructuring is a technique to change irrational, negative thoughts and to increase positive self talk. Events can trigger irrational thoughts. While events cannot be changed, the way of looking at them can. An example could be working hard on a project or test and not receiving as high of a grade as expected. The effort can seem useless, making you think that there's no point in trying. Some examples of irrational, negative thoughts could be: "I can't do anything well", "There's no point in trying", "Things never work out for me", "Nobody likes me", "I'm dumb", "Something's wrong with me", "I can't make any friends", or "I'm worthless". These thoughts need to be recognized and countered. It is one of the main focuses of this technique to recognize the thoughts that cause anxiety. It is important to counter them with realistic, positive thoughts. For example, it would not be proper to counter "Nobody likes me" with "Everyone does like you". It is important to be realistic with the replacement thought. "Many people like you" would be a much better approach.
It is important that these negative attitudes be removed from your thoughts. You can believe these negative thoughts which leads to feelings of worthlessness and sometimes depression. Learn to recognize these thoughts and correct yourself when you have them. You can also enlist the help of parents, family members, friends and teachers to point out these negative thoughts. Recognize and focus on the good things that you do and keep a positive attitude.
For more tips on stress reduction you may visit the counseling office.