Study Skills

A wise old gentleman once offered the following advice. He said, “The difference between a successful man and an unsuccessful man is that the successful man did all the things which the unsuccessful man thought were not necessary to do.”

In other words, the path to be being successful is not always easy. Taking time to develop skills will help you achieve success in school, in your chosen career, and in life.

Time Management
There are just 24 hours in each day. What you do with that time makes all the difference. Getting your “free” time under control is essential to any successful student. If you don’t already, start using a daily planner. This could be a datebook you keep in your bag, an online version you maintain at home, or both. It’s easy to over-schedule or “double-book” if we aren’t careful. Manage your time wisely and you’ll get the maximum out of each day.

The Ability to Set Attainable Goals
It’s important to set goals, as long as they’re attainable. Setting goals that are unreasonably high is a set-up — you’ll be doomed to frustration and disappointment.

Listen to your teacher and stay focused. Be sure that you understand the lesson. If you don’t understand something, ask questions! You’ve heard it before, but “the only dumb question is the one you don’t ask.” This is absolutely true. If you’ve been paying attention, it definitely won’t be a dumb question.

Good Note-Taking
You can’t possibly write down everything the teacher says since they talk at a rate of about 225 words per minute. But you do need to write down the important material. Be sure to validate yourself after a test by going back over your notes to see if your notes contained the answers to questions asked on the test. If not, you need to ask to see a classmate’s notes or check with the teacher for help on improving your note-taking. Studying with a partner is also a good idea, provided that you study and don’t turn it into a talk-fest (there’s time for that later). Note-taking should be in a form that’s most helpful to you. If you’re more of a visual person, try writing notes on different colored index cards. Music can also be a good memory aid as long as you don’t find it distracting. Re-writing your notes daily is another strategy. If you really have a problem with note-taking, you might ask your teacher if you can tape-record daily lessons.

Completion of Assignments
Teachers assign homework for a reason. While it may seem like “busywork” at times, it definitely has a purpose. Put your homework to good use. Remember, you’ll only get out of it what you put into it!

Review of Daily Notes
Don’t wait until the night before the test to review your notes. Go over your notes each day while the lecture is still fresh in your mind. Add any missing pieces. Compare your notes with a classmate’s notes. This isn’t cheating — it may even be mutually beneficial. Review your notes each day to reinforce your learning and build towards your ultimate goal: MASTERY of the subject or skill.

Organizational Skills
Keeping yourself organized will save you valuable time and allow you to do everything you need to do. Remember: “A place for everything and everything in its place.” Keep all your study materials (calculator, planner, books, notebooks, laptop, etc.) in one convenient location.

You need to be motivated to learn and work hard, whether or not you like a specific subject or teacher. Self-motivation can be extremely important when you aren’t particularly excited about a class. If you must, view it as an obstacle you must overcome. Then set your mind to it and do it — no excuses. Success is up to you!

You’ve started the course, now you need to complete it. Do the best — and get the most out of it that you can! Your commitment will pay off in the end.

Your Learning Style

Each person has different learning preferences and styles that benefit them, including auditory, visual, logical, social, solitary or tactile. It is not uncommon for people to discover certain learning styles that work best for them or styles that are preferable in certain situations.

Visual Learning Style

Visual learners better retain information presented in pictures, videos, graphs, and books. These people benefit when information is presented on an overhead projector or white board, on a piece of paper, or in a book. Visual learners often make sure their notes are very detailed and spend extra time reviewing information from textbooks. Visual learners also frequently draw pictures or develop diagrams when trying to comprehend a subject.

Auditory Learning Style

Auditory learners better retain information presented in lectures and public speeches, audio recordings, and other forms of verbal communication. While a visual learner would prefer to read a book or watch a video, auditory learners would prefer to attend a lecture.

Tactile Learning Style

Tactile Learners retain information best through hands-on participation. These types of people are also known as kinesthetic learners. For example, a tactile learner in an automotive repair class would learn better by working on cars rather than sitting through a lecture or reading a book. They also excel in classes where students are assigned to study in labs.

Logical Style

Individuals who excel at math and possess strong logical reasoning skills are usually logical learners. They notice patterns quickly and have a keen ability to link information that would seem nonrelated by others. Logical learners retain details better by drawing connections after organizing an assortment of information.

Social Style

Social learners usually have excellent written and verbal communication skills. These individuals are at ease speaking with other people and often comprehend their perspectives. For this reason, others frequently seek counsel from social learners. Social learners also learn best working with groups and take opportunities to meet individually with teachers.

Solitary Style

Solitary learners usually prefer to work by themselves in private settings. They usually do not rely on others for help when solving a problem or studying. Solitary learners frequently analyze their learning preferences and methods. Since solitary learners prefer to work alone, it is possible for them to waste time on a difficult problem before seeking assistance.

Effective Note Taking

Effective note taking is one of the keys to succeeding in school. Taking notes forces you to listen carefully and test your understanding of the material. Students should devote a considerable amount of time reviewing information discussed during classroom lectures. It is very difficult to remember specific details from classroom lectures without good notes.

Learning to make notes effectively will help you to improve your study and work habits and to remember important information. Often students are deceived into thinking that because they understand everything that is said in class they will therefore remember it.

Here are some helpful hints on note taking:

Learn to abbreviate.

Have a uniform system of punctuation and abbreviation that will make sense to you. Since teachers usually cover a lot of information during each lecture, it can be hard jotting everything down. This is why it is a good idea to use symbols or abbreviate long words and write short phrases in your notes. Many students use these symbols and abbreviations while taking notes: & (and), w/o (without), eg (for example), ie (that is). When utilizing abbreviations, create a key of your most commonly used abbreviations so you will not forget them.

Organize your notes.

Notes organized by date, class, and subject make it easier to locate specific lecture details. It is also a good idea to keep information from different dates and classes separated or beginning each class with a new piece of paper.

Review your notes.

In order to retain information discussed during lectures, it is best to review notes right after class. This will help you better understand the lecture, your notes, and it will enable you to focus on what you just learned for long-term retention.

Stick to the main points.

Don’t write down everything that you read or hear. Be alert and attentive to the main points. As you make notes, you will develop skills in selecting important material and in discarding unimportant material. Teachers generally give clues as to what is important to take down. Some of the more common clues are: material written on the board, repetition, emphasis (judged by the amount of time the instructor spends on points and the number of examples he or she uses), summaries given at the end of class, and reviews given at the beginning of class.

Write clearly.

Effective notes will be of no benefit if they’re unreadable. This is why it is important to use good penmanship when taking notes.

Other helpful hints on good note taking:

Don’t keep notes on oddly shaped pieces of paper. Keep notes in order and in one place.

Take accurate notes. You should usually use your own words, but try not to change the meaning. If you quote directly from an author, quote correctly.

Notes should consist of key words or very short sentences. If a speaker gets sidetracked, it is often possible to go back and add further information.

How to Study Vocabulary

Most vocabulary words are learned from context. The more words you’re exposed to, the better vocabulary you will have. While you read, pay close attention to words you don’t know. First, try to figure out their meanings from context. Then look the words up. Read and listen to challenging material so that you’ll be exposed to many new words.

Spend a little time (5 – 15 minutes) studying vocabulary every night.

Use flashcards to practice.

Read the word and its definition aloud a number of times for oral repetition.

Make an effort to use your new vocabulary in your every day speech.

Use context clues to find the meaning of unknown words in readings.

Use a mnemonic device to remember acronyms.

Build sentences with vocabulary to practice using the words.

Put your vocabulary words to music or in art work.

Study and quiz with a classmate.

Practice, practice, practice. Learning a word won’t help very much if you promptly forget it. Research shows that it takes from 10 to 20 repetitions to really make a word part of your vocabulary. It helps to write the word – both the definition and a sentence you make up using the word – perhaps on an index card that can later be reviewed. As soon as you learn a new word, start using it.

Helpful Links:

Habits of Effective Students

This article is taken from Education Corner:

The path to excellence is not an easy one. Going the extra mile to develop strong and effective study habits will pay off in the end. The vast majority of successful students achieve their success by developing and applying effective study habits. The following are study habits practiced by highly successful students:

Get the right tools.

Make sure you have all the right “student tools” to be successful: textbooks, binders or folders to keep you organized, paper for notes, a computer, a calculator, pens, pencils, etc. You cannot be a good student if you haven’t got the right tools.

Don’t try to cram all your studying into one session.

Successful students typically space their work out over shorter periods of time and rarely try to cram all of their studying into just one or two sessions. If you want to become a successful student then you need to learn to be consistent in your studies and to have regular, yet shorter, study periods.

Consider a study group.
Some students learn really well this way. If you give this a try, keep the group small (2-5 people max). Makes sure it does not turn into a social event.

Plan when you’re going to study.

Successful students schedule specific times throughout the week when they are going to complete their studying — and then they stick with their schedule. Students who study sporadically and whimsically typically do not perform as well as students who have a set study schedule.

Study at the same time.

Not only is it important that you plan when you’re going to study but that you also create a consistent, daily study routine. When you study at the same time each day and each week, studying will become a regular part of your life. You’ll be mentally and emotionally more prepared for each study session, and each study session will become more productive.

Start with the most difficult subject first.

As your most difficult assignment or subject will require the most effort and mental energy, you should start with it first. Once you’ve completed the most difficult work it will be much easier to complete the rest of your work.

Always review your notes before starting an assignment.

Always make sure to take good notes in class. Before you start each study session and before you start a particular assignment review your notes thoroughly to make sure you know how to complete the assignment correctly.

Make sure you’re not disturbed whiles studying.

When you’re disturbed while you’re studying you lose your train of thought, and you get distracted — both of which will lead to very ineffective studying. Before you start studying find a place where you won’t be disturbed.

Review your notes, schoolwork, and other class materials over the weekend.

Successful students review what they’ve learned during the week over the weekend. You will find yourself well prepared to continue learning new concepts at the beginning of each week that build upon previous coursework and knowledge acquired the previous week.

Improving Your Memory

There are all sorts of ways to improve your memory. In addition to proper diet, adequate exercise, reduced stress, and healthy lifestyle choices, there are strategies and memory tricks for improving recall. Most likely, you’ve already learned to use some of these practices. Keep in mind that short-term memory is not very effective in test situations. Our short-term memories have limited capacities and do not respond well under stress. Long-term memory is much more reliable in stressful situations and long-term memory has an unlimited capacity. However, there are many different techniques that are available to increase recall. Here are a few ideas:

Use pictures to improve memory.

It is easier to remember a picture rather than details from a book or a lecture. Visualization is one strategy that can be used to remember information read or spoken during a lecture. This strategy is especially useful when studying abstract or confusing subjects. To do this, create images in your mind that relate to, or have similarities to, the abstract concept.

Use acronyms to improve memory.

An acronym is a very common memory device. It uses an abbreviation that takes the first letter in each word to be remembered to form a new word.

Use acrostics to improve memory.

Although you probably never heard the term “acrostic,” you are familiar with its use. An acrostic is very similar to an acronym. However, instead of using the first letters to spell a single word, these letters are used to spell different words that form a sentence or memorable phrase. The classification scheme for living things might be a familiar acrostic: King Philip Came Over For Great Spaghetti is a difficult phrase to forget. Therefore, it remains a great tool for remembering: Kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species.

Use chunking to improve memory.

Chunking is another memory trick that helps recall by limiting items to smaller “chunks.” For example, a phone number is often remembered (and recited) as three distinct chunks such as 202-931-8956. Memorizing these three discrete chunks is more effective than memorizing a series of 10 numbers (2029318956). What’s your social security number? Chances are you’ve chunked its recall into three or four separate number series.

Practice makes perfect.

It may not be as fun, but repeating is still a great memory aid. Remember the children’s game “I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing….” As each new object is added, the old objects are repeated. People can often remember a large number of objects this way. When remembering a list of things, you might try a similar concept. Once you are able to remember 5 items on your list without looking, add a 6th, repeat the whole list from the start, add a 7th, and so on. It can be quite intimidating to see long lists, passages, or equations that you are expected to commit to memory. Break up the information into small bits that you can learn, one step at a time, and you may be surprised at how easy it can be.

A helpful links to improve memory:

Neuroscience for Kids