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Study Skills

  • Make sure you always start with a good breakfast!

    How to Listen Better


    “The classroom is the place to learn, and the classroom is the place to listen.”

    William H. Armstrong


    Listening is one of the most important skills you can develop to do better in school.  It is the second most difficult skill.  Reading is the most difficult.


    • Form a good habit – good listening in class!
    • Concentrate on what is going on in class – do not daydream.
    • You cannot listen if you are talking!
    • Before class – think about what the class is going to be about.
    • What were the main points covered in the last class?
    • Review what your assignment was for the class. 

    During class…relate what you have already learned to what is being taught.

    • Did your homework have anything to do with the subject being taught in class?
    • Did you reading have anything to do with the subject?
    • Does your general knowledge provide any information about the subject being taught?
    • What comes to mind during the instruction?
    • Concentrate on the subject being taught.
    • Take notes on the main points.


    After class…review your notes and thing about what was covered in class.

    • Some people like to rewrite their notes.
    • Some people like to underline and highlight important ideas and vocabulary.


    Learning to listen…more details

    • Good listening means you are paying attention
    • Try to hear what is said, not what you want to hear
    • Think “around” the topic and “between the lines”
    • Relate it to what you already know
    • What is the main point?
    • What is likely to be on the test?
    • What is the teacher going to say next?
    • Listen carefully to what the teacher says about an assignment and write it down in your assignment notebook right away.
    • Listen for these essential phrases from the teacher: “This is important…”, “It is essential that you know this…”, and “You will need to know this for the test…”


    Listening Strategies


    -         When you are in class, pull out your notebook to a new page.  Date it so that you will have it for future reference.

    -         Write down the words WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, HOW and WHY.

    -         When the teacher mentions anything that may fall into these categories, write down what was said.

    -         Make eye contact with the teacher frequently.  This will help to keep you on task and let your teacher know that you are paying attention.

    -         Don’t talk with your friends or classmates while the teacher is presenting.

    -         Concentrate on what the teacher is saying…this will help you from daydreaming.

    -         Need clarification…don’t understand what they are saying?  ASK!

    -         Listen for phrases such as “This is important!” or “Don’t forget!”




    Building Effective Study Habits


    The following time management strategies can be used to improve your study habits. Pick two or three to practice using. Once you’ve mastered those, choose a couple more.


    ü       Study difficult or boring subjects first! If a particular subject is hard or puts you to sleep, tackle it first while you are fresh.


    ü       Be aware of your best time of day. Many people learn best in daylight hours. Observe yourself to find out if this is true for you. If it is, schedule study time during the day. If not, find out what time of day is best.


    ü       Use your waiting time effectively. Ten minutes on the school bus or 5 minutes in the lunch line add up. Have short study tasks written up on 3x5 like formulas or definitions, and pull them out to study while waiting.


    ü      Use a regular study area. When you use the same place to study day after day, your body and mind become trained. It will help you focus more quickly focus your efforts.





    “There’s too much to remember!”

    Organize.  Information is recalled better if it is represented in an organized framework that will make remembering easier.  There are many techniques that can help you organize new information, including:

    -          Write chapter outlines or summaries; emphasize the relationships between sections.

    -          Group information into categories or time-lines when possible.

    -          Information Mapping = draw maps or pictures to organize and relate material.  For example, if you were trying to understand the causes of World War I, you could make a chart listing all the major countries involved across the top, and then list the important issues and events down the side.  Next, in the boxes between, you could describe the impact each issue had on each country to help you understand the complex historical events.


      “I knew it a minute ago.”

    Review.  After reading a section, try to recall the information contained in it.  Try answering the questions you made up for that chapter.  If you cannot remember enough, re-read portions you had trouble remembering.  The more time you spend studying, the more you tend to recall.  Even after the point where the information can be perfectly recalled, further study makes the material less likely to be forgotten entirely.  In other words, you CAN”T overstudy!  However, how you organize and integrate new information is still more important than how much time you spend studying.


      “But I like to study in bed.”

    Physical location or, context.  Recall is better when the study context (as well as mental, emotional and physical state) are similar to the test context.  The greater the similarity between the study setting and the test setting, the greater the likelihood that material studied will be recalled during the test.


      “Cramming before a test helps keep it fresh in my mind.”

    Spacing:  Start studying NOW.  Keep studying as you go along.  Begin with an hour or two a day about one week before the test, and then increase study time as the exam approaches.  Recall increases as study time gets spread out over time.


       “I’m gonna stay up all night ‘till I get this!”

    Avoid mental exhaustion.  Take short breaks often when studying.  Before a test, have a rested mind.  When you take a study break, and just before you go to sleep at night, don’t think about academics.  Relax and unwind, mentally and physically.  Otherwise, your break won’t refresh you and you’ll find yourself lying awake at night.  It’s more important than ever to take care of yourself before an exam.  Eat well, sleep well and get enough exercise.





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