Study Skills That Work

Midterms and Finals for the semester are right around the corner. Now is the time to bone up on some study skills and habits. It doesn’t mean you have to study and work harder, instead read on for how to study smarter.

Find Your Sweet Spot

Before studying can begin, consider your surroundings. Studies show that switching up your study environment can help recall. If you normally bury yourself in the recess of your room, try hitting up the front porch or maybe check out a local coffee shop. The change in scenery can improve memory and concentration.

Silence Isn't Always Golden

Know where you study best. The silence of a library may not be the best place for you. It’s important to consider what noise environment works best for you. You might find that you concentrate better with some background noise. Some people find that listening to classical music while studying helps them concentrate, while others find this highly distracting. The point is that the silence of the library may be just as distracting (or more) than the noise of a gymnasium. Thus, if silence is distracting, but you prefer to study in the library, try the first or second floors where there is more background ‘buzz.’

Keep in mind that active studying is rarely silent as it often requires saying the material aloud.

Next, consider what is not studying. Studying is not reading and re-reading your text. While reading is part of pre-studying, it is considered passive studying. The University of Pittsburgh identifies passive studying as consuming information through merely reading or listening. These do not allow for the proper recall of information and lead to forgotten information.

In turn, active studying is the best approach to retaining and recalling needed information. Active studying is the process of understanding something by talking about it, analyzing it, putting it all together, solving problems, reflecting on it, asking questions about it, and doing it.

Instead, engage in active studying:

  • Create a study guide

  • Quiz yourself

  • Reteach the material

  • Create your own symbols and shorthand for notes

Try the following simple steps to help create and foster healthy study habits.

  • Every night, go through your class notes.

  • After school, look over your notes and add to them. Reviewing your notes helps you move information from your short-term memory into your long-term memory, which will help you on your next big test.

  • Study in small chunks. Take a short break of 10 to 15 minutes for every 30 minutes you spend studying.

  • Study with other people. Working with classmates makes you more likely to talk to each other, which keeps you interested. This lets you test your knowledge with other people, quiz each other on the content, and help each other feel better about themselves.

  • Avoid distractions. Everyone and everything can be a distraction, from cell phones to social media to friends. Know what distracts you in class and how to stay away from these things. When studying outside of school, put your phone in another room while you're studying for 30 minutes. Then, when you take your 10-minute break, give yourself your cell as a reward. (Set a timer to help you get back to work)

Tried-N-True Methods

The SQ3R Method is a reading comprehension method named for its five steps: survey, question, read, recite and review.

Retrieval Practice is a way to improve and speed up learning by bringing information to mind.

Spaced Practice Is staging the learning in chunks of 1 to 2 hours every other day as opposed to a 12-hour cram session thereby retaining information.

The PQ4R Method stands for preview, question, read, reflect, recite, and review. The steps to take when you want to learn something new.

The Feynman Technique is a mental model using simple language for advanced concepts.

Leitner System is a method of using flashcards with spaced repetition and reviewed at increased intervals.

Color-Coded Notes method to memorize and remember the information that you need to learn and are stimulating for visual learners.

Mind Mapping involves writing down the main idea and then coming up with new ideas that are related to the main idea.

Exercise Before Studying sends blood flow to your brain. This makes the neurons fire up and helps cells grow, especially in the hippocampus. This means just 20 minutes of exercise before studying, can improve focus and concentration.

Study Before Bed for information consolidation during sleep.

While we have certain suggestions of tried and true study methods, there is no one size fits all approach to studying. Every individual will have their own way of learning. Everyone has a type of learning that helps promote knowledge and retention of information.

Learn more about the four types of learning styles and which one will best suit you or your student so that the studying methods can be catered to fit.

  • Visual learners will find it easier to retain information when they study with images, videos, and live demonstrations.

  • An auditory learner will learn best with lectures, recordings, and even teaching lessons out loud to others.

  • A read-and-write learner finds it easier to remember the material when reading and physically writing the information in note form.

  • A Kinaesthetic learner is a very hands-on learner that relies on trial and error for problem-solving.

Most people use more than one of these ways to learn but will tend to perform better and have more success with one specific one. Once a person knows what learning type works for them, then they can start studying more effectively with better results.

Not sure where to start to create better study habits, but reach out to any of the experienced credited faculty at CFCA. They can sit with our students to help assess which learning style they tend to do the best with. At CFCA, we always value the success of students who work to attain their academic goals and we work hard to create environments that will foster healthy study habits. If you are considering if CFCA is home and a good fit for you and your family, reach out today to schedule a tour of our campus.

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