Great study skills matter now more than ever - here is our advice!
Like many other things, completing your degree is all about how you play the game. People who excel in school might often attribute their success to their study habits. As a result, the key to achieving great success during exam season is to study smarter rather than harder.
- Do you ever feel that your study methods aren't up to par?
- Do you ever wonder what you could be doing to improve your grades and test scores?
- Do you find yourself distracted - or procrastinating more than usual?
Many students learn that their study habits from high school are ineffective in university. This is understandable, given how different the two are. Professors are less directly involved, classrooms are larger, tests are more valuable, reading is more intense, and classes are far more demanding. That doesn't mean something is wrong with you; it simply means you need to improve your study skills.
Fortunately for you, we’ve been in your shoes - and we know what it takes to succeed. All you really need is a strategy, a team backing you - and of course, a few well-timed breaks.
1. Categorise your information
According to Ed Brandt, Director of Operations, setting up a system, or a method for your studies can be one of the most effective tools you possess! If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed at the amount of information that you need to retain VS. the time you have left to learn - then simply categorising your priorities into these 3 sections can have huge benefits.
- What do you know?
This is the information that you already know quite well - and you really just need to briefly refresh, or revise your knowledge.
- What should you know?
This is the information that’s within reach - the ‘oh it’s on the tip of my tongue’ knowledge. This should take no more than 40% of your time, and it’s crucial that you give it the attention that it deserves.
- What could you know?
This is the information that makes sense to you when you read it, but you’re not quite sure how to put it into practice. This category should account for 60% of your of your time.
2. The power of taking notes
Ryan Hannan, Director of Studies says that one of the most overlooked - and yet most valuable strategies is to simply make your own notes. When it comes to retaining a lot of knowledge, we've found that writing it down is one of the most effective methods we've observed when working with students.
Take brief or bulleted notes to help you remember key points. Doing this means that you’re programming your brain to pay attention to the important information that you’re hearing, or reading. It's simpler to absorb your notes when you relive the full conversation in your thoughts. As you go over the facts that can be valuable during testing, you tend to remember more.
3. Teach someone else
David Ford, teacher, recalls teaching a student who used her stuffed animal collection as a learning opportunity! Teaching someone (or something) else is the most effective approach to acquiring and retaining information. Set up a specific period of time to study without interruptions and learn everything you can in that time with the purpose of explaining it to someone else.
A student's approach to studying the information will be more analytical, and they will naturally pull out the important aspects of the lesson and find out how to pass that knowledge on in their own thoughts.
4. Understand how you learn
According to Pamela Anderson, Student Experience Facilitator, there are a variety of learners out there - and once you’ve identified which category you most likely fall into, you’ll be able to tailor your study programme to fit your unique needs. Have a look at these categories - and then read on for some examples. As a learner, you’re either an auditory, visual - or kinesthetic learner.
Here are a few examples from Pamela to help you identify, and optimise your style.
- Read the text aloud - and make a recording on your phone
- Listen to the playback while you study
- Consider using audiobooks
- Study with a friend! The key is to discuss what you’re learning
- Take detailed notes
- Highlight and colour code the important points
- Use diagrams, stock photography, illustrations or charts
- Create your own worksheets based on what you’re already studying
Kinesthetic (including your body, i.e. movement in your studies)
- Revise and recite information while walking
- Include exercise in your study routine
- Roleplay learning scenarios with friends or family
- Try standing while you study
5. Take a break
Oliver G, Head Teacher, says that while regular breaks might seem counterproductive - they actually enhance your ability to retain information! It can be difficult to learn a large amount of information in a short period of time.
Take it section by section, and making notes on paper or flashcards before taking small breaks, is crucial for your success at university!
Students will be able to recover, focus, and return to work after these intervals in between sections. . It will harm more in the long run if students rush through the portions, barely putting in the time to study and absorb.
Depending on how much time you have, it's a good idea to go over everything thoroughly and make sure you grasp the content. It's preferable to grasp parts of it than to speed through it completely and be confused.
Remember - you’re unique, and so are your learning styles! What works for you might not work for your friends. Don’t be scared to try a few different approaches before settling on one that really works for you. There is no right or wrong way to study - as long as you’re understanding, and remembering - then your strategy is working!
At British Study Centres - we know the value that mastering the art of the English language can bring to your life, and we’re here to help you by giving you the opportunity to excel!
We also believe in finding out where you are - before deciding on where you want to be. With that in mind, we’ve developed a handy Grammar quiz, to help you understand your level of proficiency!