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Study Skills for Success – Getting Yourself Started

With exams coming up these 3 skills will provide an excellent start for any students struggling
 to start their study.

First Things First.
Make your study important and prioritize it. Study will help you get ahead in life - treat it like a job. First minimize distractions. Turn off your TV, music, phone and Facebook. If you are going to have music on in the background, the best kind is classical Baroque music. Now pick a time and a place to study – this may be the same place each time or it can change - you just need to know ahead of time when and where you are going to study, as this will get you to it faster, rather than procrastinating and wasting time. Make sure you have all the tools you need such as your books, pens and paper, study notes, criteria from the teachers etc.

Trouble getting started?
If you have trouble getting started, set a time frame, even if it is a small one, once you get started you will find you get on a roll and create momentum. Research shows that studying for 20 minutes and taking a quick 5 minute break can maximize your study time. If you are on a roll, you do not need to take the short break, just keep going until you feel yourself slowing, and then take the five minute break.
Make a list of what you are going to do in your study time – this will help lower your distractions and keep your efficiency high. Every time you cross something off the list it gives you a little boost of achievement.

Text Book Study
For many students, textbooks are a bore; however they should be your best friend when it comes to study. Good textbooks are set up to help you learn faster and efficiently if you know how to use them.
Firstly, a great textbook will have a summary at the end of each chapter. Many students skip reading these because they think they have already read the chapter. The summary however, is the last 10-15 pages content into two pages. Approximately 70- 90% of what you need to know will be in the summary, so pay attention to it, and become an expert on the summaries.

Learning the summary:

  • Photocopy, scan or download the summary and blank out (with white-out or Twink) the important words and concepts.
  • Let it dry.
  • Draw a line under each blanked out word.
  • Copy the summary five to ten times.
  • These are your personal quizzes.
  • On day one fill in the blanks and mark it using the textbook summary.
  • Add corrections in a different colour to make them stand out.
  • Repeat taking your mini quiz 3 days later, a week later and as often as you need to learn it.
           Remember it is the answers you got wrong that you need to learn and focus on.
  • The week and also the day before your test, redo the summary quiz.

Keep all your quizzes and look at them the day before your test to see how much you have improved, this will give you some positive confidence for the test ahead.

Repeat with all summaries in the textbook until you know the information.

Reading in Layers
If you feel overwhelmed at how much you have to read give this technique a go.

Preview what you need to read by;

  • Reading the first sentence of each paragraph. In most greatly written textbooks the first sentence is a summary of what the paragraph is about.
  • Read any sentence with words that are in bold. When an author bolds something, it is usually because it is important.
  • Read anything else that looks important – if your eye is drawn to it, read it.
  • Now read the entire page, chapter or article. Once you have completed the preview, what you are reading should make more sense and be easier to comprehend.
Karen Tui Boyes's picture
Study Skills Queen

Karen is an author and the creator of the Teachers Matter Magazine, Teachers Matter Conference, Kids Matter Conference, Study Smart Workshops and the Habits of Mind Bootcamp. She is also CEO of Spectrum Education, Affiliate Director of the Institute for the Habits of Mind,NZ Educator of the Year 2014, NZ Speaker of the Year 2013, NZ Business Woman of the Year 2001, wife of one and mother of two.