When it comes to ways of improving your study skills it is important to note that they are highly individualized and there is no one size that fits all. What may have worked for you may not work for your friends. There are tens of factors that influence study habits. Those who have an interest towards a particular field may be tempted to pay attention to those subjects more than in others. Career objectives also matter and some people tend to pay more attention to subjects that they feel are more relevant to their future goals. There are others that are more gifted towards some specific disciplines than in others and will always find difficulties handling other subjects. Whatever your interests and strengths are, there are a number of strategies you can employ to improve your study skills and performance in all the subjects.
1. Prepare a schedule and follow it
It is important to have a clear strategy when it comes to studying and also have a schedule containing all the major topics to be studied. There are those subjects that one performs better in and there are others that need boosting. It is not appropriate to allocate equal time but instead focus should be towards addressing the raging weaknesses. If you find that you are weak in calculus for example, allocate the subject more time than you would to an English class you are better at. This ensures that no single subject drags you down as it might have debilitating ramifications in the final aggregate. Having a schedule also ensures that you do not wander off and that you put into consideration other important co-curricular activities that might go largely ignored. Although you should strive to stick by the schedule it is crucial to be flexible and not be a slave of time.
2. Choose carefully the study time
There is no specific time for study and experts will advise you to only study when you are relaxed, well rested and feeling attentive. Do not study when you are full of anxiety or with a lot of tension instead you can make it a habit of studying in the morning when you are more relaxed and probably not in a rush. Make ample time for study before the examination fever kicks as last minute studying may not do you any good.
3. Study environment
The study environment can be a deal breaker if not carefully chosen. You can choose any place for your studies but libraries and private rooms are the most preferred. The most important thing is to choose a place that has no distractions. There are those who prefer soft music in the process and there are those who find music a great distraction. Choose a place that makes you relax and attentive. Distractions will greatly waste your otherwise useful time and before you know it your time is up.
4. How to study effectively
There are tens of approaches to studying and knowing the most effective takes time and practice. It is crucial to consult friends who are good performers for a tip or two.
The SQ3R method comes highly recommended and according to Robinson Pleasant, in his book Effective Study, it can be achieved in five easy steps. These are, surveying the topic, asking yourself questions about what the topic wishes to accomplish, reading, reciting, and then reviewing what you have learnt. These may seem like five easy steps but it is important to know how each of them works. The key emphasis of each of this strategy is to ensure that you grasp what you are reading. A recital of what you have learnt assesses your memory strength and although you may not remember everything, constant recital will help you memorize the concepts better.
5. It is important to take note
There is a lot to read in one page but not all is worthy remembering. It is important to make note taking a habit. Failing to take notes is itself a studying deficiency that should be addressed. The first quality of a good student is the ability to take notes and good notes at that as this skill will be utilized later in career life. Note down the important concepts, their definitions and everything else you feel will be crucial towards your understanding of the topic. You can then revisit these notes as you revise for your exams and they will be crucial in jogging your memory.
6. Listening and asking questions
Paying attention to the instructor and following every word, according to experts, might guarantee you close to thirty percent of the total marks. Although lectures might not provide in-depth explanation of everything you need they will give you essential insights on what the topic is all about and also where to start during the revision. If you pay adequate attention, you will be able to also ask questions that will guide you further in your revisions. It is always advisable to commence revision right after every lecture so that you can pinpoint the concepts that are problematic to you. This would be more rewarding than rushing during the exam time.
7. Taking tests
It is important to once in a while take tests after completing every topic to assess your understanding of the basic concepts. It is not obvious that you will pass these tutorials and failing should not discourage you but they should be an indicator of the areas you need to pay more attention to. You can also be taking these tests during your spare time to try and test your memory.
8. During the exam period
The exam period brings in fevers and it is crucial not to be caught up in this. Most of the students rush in the last minutes to try and catch up with the rest and eventually carry out shoddy revisions guaranteeing themselves a fail. As the exam approaches however, the secret is not to undertake intense studying but rather to review the major concepts that are examinable. This is also the period to review the small notes you have been taking as well as assessing yourself using past exams to have a clear understanding of how questions are set.
It is every student’s goal to be able to study effectively. However this is a process that requires dedication. A few tips that might be helpful towards improving study skills include choosing a good study environment, taking notes during lecture time and personal reading, applying the SQ3R strategy and having a balanced study schedule. There is no guarantee that these are the only strategies that works but careful following of these tips can indeed improve your study skills.