Seize the Study Session!
By: Meredith Knauer
When I was in 8th grade, I was lucky enough to have a mandatory study skills class at my new school. I remember sitting in the back of class, next to the heater, fighting not to fall asleep as my teacher talked on and on in a monotone voice. She talked about how to take notes, different study methods, and some other tips that I probably was too bored to pay attention to. Study skills aren't the most thrilling of topics to discuss, but they are necessary, and for many students who didn't have the same opportunities as me, they are not taught in school.
Often, when I am having an initial discussion with parents or students who come to me for help, the lack of study skills is mentioned as a concern. This is through no fault of the student, though. Knowing how to study is not something we are born knowing how to do, and often, those students who don't know how to study are the ones who coasted by in school, earning good grades until they hit a big brick wall that they can't get past. What they've been doing is no longer working, and they don't know where to start. Follow this list of tips below, and hopefully, it will inspire you to try building some study skills of your own.
1. Find your ideal study space
Different people need different places to study. Perhaps your bedroom is the ideal place. After all, it's quiet, relaxing, and offers isolation from distractions... unless those distractions happen to be in your bedroom. If your Playstation won't stop calling out to you, maybe the library would be better. Some people need some background noise, so maybe a coffee shop would be better, or maybe sitting somewhere outside on campus with the sun shining on you will put you in the study mood. Try a few places on and see how they fit.
2. Figure out when is the best time to study
Are you a night owl who prefers reading English books by lamplight after your roommates have gone to bed, or are you an early bird who feels revived and rejuvenated first thing in the morning? Or maybe you find yourself ready to do homework right after it's been assigned while you wait for your next class to start. Do you need brain breaks or can you work for hours on end without burning out? Think about when you feel the most focused and energized during your day and use that time to your advantage.
3. What is your learning style?
Knowing your learning style is vital to efficiently absorbing the information presented to you. Generally, the 3 styles are visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. You may want to take a learning style quiz like the one linked at the bottom of this page to be helpful in finding out more about your own style.
4. Know your distractions
Let's be honest, is your phone a distraction? You may use it to play study music, and that's great, but can you have your phone next to you without getting sucked down the Twitter rabbit hole? I know I struggle with it, and so I play my music over my laptop. Or maybe you find body doubling to really work well for you, but when you try to do work with your best friend, you do more hanging out than actual work. Maybe your solution is to go to the library, where other people are working, but they aren't distracting you.
5. Do little bits over long periods
Studies show that the best way to study is in little bits over a long period of time. Here's how it works: when you go to sleep, your brain is spending all of that time encoding things from your day into long-term memory. The more frequently you study, the more chances your brain has to encode the information. The study sessions don't have to be long at all. Even 5 minutes of reviewing your notes a day can be a great help when it comes time for your test. You might even find that you don't have much studying to do at all by the time the night before rolls around. The only way to know is to give this method a try.