Building Study Skills Can Produce Results
Learning how to study well can be a big concern no matter a person's age.
Whether you are a parent that needs to help a child flourish in school, you are personally cramming for a test at work or you just want to broaden personal horizons by hitting the books once more, effective study skills can be vital.
When the right study time management and habits come into play, they can help ensure that you are gaining something from the effort.
Studying, however, can be a rather personal thing. Not all people learn in exactly the same manner and not everyone studies in the same way either. Some people learn better by seeing, reading or performing hands on tasks. There are even those who grasp concepts better when they involve all three aspects.
Fortunately, there are some great tips that cut across all styles to help virtually anyone learn how to study well or assist someone else in doing so.
According to Virginia Tech's Cook Counseling Center, one of the key ways to tackle a full load of classes or school-related projects is to handle study time management effectively.
The center recommends sectioning out time to make sure you do not miss anything, overlook anything or leave any work until the last minute. The idea is to create long-term schedules, short-term or weekly schedules and even daily must do lists.
The concept behind the three-tiered plan is to enable students to keep up with the big picture as they deal with the daily grind. This kind of scheduling, when worked correctly, can help students juggle many items at once and can make sure nothing is missed.
The time scheduling Virgina Tech recommends also extends to personal life. It includes study time management, of course, but making sure a proper amount of down time is included in the mix can be important, as well.
Too much cramming and work can burn students out no matter their age or their personal desire to learn.
Scholastic Books and Virginia Tech both recommend that anyone who wants to start a good routine for studying set aside a particular space for doing so. The idea here is to create a workspace that is comfortable, ergonomically correct, inviting, inspiring and even a little fun to be in.
There is nothing wrong with jazzing up the space with items that personalize it a bit. Scholastic also recommends making sure the study spot is well stocked with needed supplies and that lighting is bright enough to assist with reading.
Locations that are too dim can strain the eyes and make it very difficult to keep attention focused. Study spots can vary concerning their actual physical location.
A desk in a student's room works well, but so can a kitchen table, a coffee table or even a sunny front porch. The idea is to pick a place that motivates, inspires and even focuses attention and then stick with it.
Speaking of focusing attention, Virginia Tech has an interesting suggestion to this end. The university's counselors offer this advice to help students learn how to study well: "Strengthen your ability to concentrate by selecting a social symbol that is related to study."
By this they mean just about anything that symbolizes that it's time to study. Suggestions here include a special article of clothing, a totem, a figure or anything that works
on a personal level.
The "social symbol" helps facilitate creating a ritual for studying while also making sure others know you are hard at work. Think of the symbol as a light switch for learning and concentration, and the idea then becomes a little clearer.
One of the best ways to help anyone learn how to study well involves developing good in-class skills.
According to EducationAtlas.com and a host of other resources, note taking is often the backbone of effective studying. Students can maximize their note-taking potential by working to stay focused in class and writing down all relevant information discussed during the course of a typical class session.
Asking questions to clarify anything not understood is important, too, and it can help students stay on task. Many students find shorthand or a personal form similar to it can be helpful for good note taking.
This is especially so if a teacher or professor moves too quickly through a lecture. Just make sure whatever shorthand is involved is a form that can be deciphered later.
Rewriting notes out fully after class is also a good idea. This can help fill in that shorthand, enable early reviewing of the discussion and concepts and can even be beneficial for solidifying the information in one's mind. This process might also bring to light concepts or facts that previously were not understandable but now can bring answers to questions that remain.
Concentration - or a lack of it - can be one of the biggest problems that students face in trying to hit the books. While Virginia Tech's advice about the social symbol can help, some other students might need a little more assistance in the effort to learn how to study well.
Academictips.org, points out that study breaks are not a bad idea to include in the routine. Such things as taking a quick walk, getting up and stretching and even heading to the kitchen for a glass of milk can help relieve stress and refocus the mind back on the task.
Small breaks are generally very good to include as long as they do not become too frequent or too long.
Tackling big projects or a lot of information is best handled by spacing out the effort, TestTakingTips.com points out. This means that if you break up assignments into smaller, more manageable parts it can help you avoid last-minute cram sessions.
Many students like to use a combination of smaller parts and last minute cramming just to be safe. It is important to remember to use whatever style produces the best personal results. Finding the best personal style is often the key to really mastering how to study well.
There is another great tip that comes from TestTakingTips.com. It involves the use of self-quizzing to make sure you understand material. This can help students be certain they grasp the material and might even point out areas a student needs to work on.
Another great idea is to have someone else quiz you on the topic.
Either way, some great benefits can come out of the effort. The biggest benefit of this method for many students is the reduction in pre-test anxiety that a quick quiz that goes over successfully can provide.
Students who truly master how to study well are generally those that figure out which tip or which combination of tips works the best for them.