Children are taught new information every day in school, but in order for it be meaningful or useful, they have to be able to remember what they learn and apply it in different contexts.
Improve Your Study Skills for Lifelong Learning
Studying teaches children (and adults) how to grasp concepts efficiently – a skill that they’ll use in the classroom as well as the boardroom. Therefore, study skills aren’t just important for acing this semester’s test, they’re also important for how we learn throughout our life.
The best way to develop effective study skills is through strategy and practice. So, let’s discuss some of best strategies for building strong study skills:
Find Your Ideal Study Space
Decide what kind of environment is conducive to your study routine. Some students prefer to be around other people or have background noise, whereas others prefer to study by themselves in complete silence. Bring everything you need to make this time effective: relevant assignments, books, study guides, notes, old tests, pens/pencils, highlighter, sticky notes, and snacks!
Treat Studying Like an Assignment
Block out study times in your planner and be SPECIFIC about what and how you are going to study each day. If you treat studying like an assignment you will be less likely to procrastinate.
Space Out Your Study Time
You brain needs time to make new connections and develop pathways to information you are learning for better retrieval on test day. Break your study material into “chunks” that you can space out in the days and weeks leading up to your test.
Switch Up What You Study
Study different types of material in each study session. This helps you to be more flexible in finding the right strategy or solution to a problem. For example, focusing on only Civil War questions for an entire study period will trick your brain into thinking every history question has to do with the Civil War. INSTEAD, study the Civil War and Reconstruction in the same sitting so that you have to stop and think about the context of each question.
Prioritize What to Study & How to Study It
Testtakingtips.com recommends that you start with the most important information. Then focus on the general concept. Once you feel comfortable with the main idea, dive into the details.
Here are some other ways you can prioritize what to study and how to study it:
- Use the Skills 4 Life Study Folder.
- This 3-pocket folder allows you to focus on the material you “DON’T KNOW YET” and “KIND OF KNOW” as opposed to studying information that you ALREADY KNOW. Studying what you already know can create a false sense of competence.
- Use a study skills guide.
- Organize notes and materials in an order that corresponds with the study guide.
- No study guide? Create one by making questions from your notes.
- Read your notes + questions OUT LOUD.
- According to the SOAR Learning lesson on test taking (SOAR), your brain processes information 3 different ways: your vision as you read, your voice as you speak, and your ears as you hear the information. This makes the information easier to recall.
- Review graded tests. Mistakes are great learning tools for future tests. As stated by SOAR, reviewing tests will give you important feedback on the content covered, your teachers expectations and the “rhythm” of taking tests.
- Practice active learning strategies. Rereading notes is the MOST COMMON way to study, but it the LEAST EFFECTIVE strategy. Actively engaging your brain in learning by REHEARSING + REVIEWING material signals leads to better understanding and improved memory retrieval.
- Connect what you need to learn to something you already know. Our brains learn best by linking what you know to what you don’t know yet.
- For hard-to-memorize terms, create mnemonics/flashcards/reminding words/etc. Try using the LINC vocabulary memorization method:
L – List the Parts
I – Indicate a reminding word or phrase
N – Note a linking story
C – Create a linking picture
S – Self-test
- Test Yourself! Quiz yourself and ask others to quiz you. Direct questions in random order will let you know if you are truly ready for a test.
Study Before Bed & Get Good Sleep
Forgo evening books or TV before a big test and study until you’re ready for bed. According to a study tip article published on the Greatist by Shana Lebowiz, your brain strengthens new memories during deep sleep, so you’ll be more likely to remember the material you study right before bed.