Good study habits are important for being a successful learner. They help with motivation, focus, organisation, time management and retention. Just like learning new skills and concepts, you can learn study habits, too.
Do you have trouble getting started? You must try to change your attitude into one that wants to do well and expects to put in the effort to do your best. You are responsible for your study habits, for seeking resources and assistance, and for managing your time. The next time you think you can’t study or it is difficult to learn something, give yourself a pep talk. Tell yourself that you can do it and take one step at a time in getting it done. You’ll feel better when the work is done which will help motivate you to keep doing your best.
Do you waste time when studying? Use the same study area to help with concentration. Remember to take breaks to keep your focus high when you return to studying. Free yourself of distractions so you can focus - limit access to a television or phone. Find a desk with a comfortable chair in an area that is quiet and well-lit. Make sure you have a healthy snack and something to drink prior to revising or studying and that you are well-rested.
Do you have the necessary tools? Try to keep your desk area, backpack, folders, and locker neat. 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, maths and foreign languages might require daily work. These subjects build on materials from the day before, so you have to keep up in these classes. Make sure you have all of the necessary items before you begin, include pens, pencils, notebooks, laptop, textbooks, ruler, reference materials, and a list of assignments.
Do you study enough? Set up a schedule and allow more time for difficult classes, long-range assignments, and tests to avoid scrambling to complete projects at the last minute or cramming. Make sure you allot time for recreational and social activities, plus time to reward yourself for your hard work. Don’t waste time. Complete all of your work each day. Record your assignments and key dates, divide the longer assignments and projects into smaller segments, and cross off the tasks when you complete them.
Do you use some learning strategies to help you remember important information? When possible, review your materials from class. Repeat what you are trying to remember to yourself over and over. Use strategies that are reinforced with your learning style. Are you a visual learner and learn best by seeing? Then you will benefit from rereading and studying by flashcards. Are you an auditory learner and learn by hearing? Maybe you can tape the key information for you to listen and recall. Are you a tactile/kinesthetic learner and like to learn by feeling/doing? Maybe you can draw, build, create and add movement to any number of academic subjects? You can also try some of these memorisation techniques to help you to remember and to reinforce important skills:
- Acronyms - make a word from the first letter of each word to be memorised.
- Acrostics - use a phrase or sentence where the first letter of each word or line acts as a cue.
- Imagery/visualisation - draw or imagine a picture of what’s being studied or use graphic organisers to help.
- Flash cards - write out key information so you can access and review when you have free time.
- Asking questions/summarizing - when reading, ask questions along the way to understand the material and summarise in your own words after scanning and reading sections; reread if necessary.
- Taking notes (listening or reading) - use abbreviations for common words, pick out most important information only or key words, use headings and pictures/diagrams, highlight or underline key points in materials