Developing effective study habits is a key step to achieving academic success because it is what you do consistently, rather than occasionally, that makes a difference. Once you set a goal, or implement a habit, it is important to be disciplined. It takes an effort. Once the momentum begins to build, it becomes easier and you will be driven to achieve more!
- Set and Stick to a Schedule with an End in Mind
The main cause of wasted study time is not knowingly exactly what to study and when to pursue that subject. To be able to study efficiently and effectively, you must set a goal: ask yourself, “What is my aim today? What do I want to accomplish by the end of today?” Anyone can set and follow a schedule, but those who don’t succeed have no idea where to begin studying. These students waste time by jumping back and forth between materials, or get distracted by something else half way.
You can avoid these pitfalls by first measuring your time–how much time do you have available to devote completely to studying school work? List out your other duties, such as full-time or part-time jobs, classes, extracurricular activities, vacation, etc. Writing your involvement down will allow you to observe the amount of time you can actually devote to studying without interruption. Once you have a calendar, create s study schedule by beginning with the end in mind. This means that you want to imagine and write down exactly what you want to get done before you start. Be specific. Do you want to finish reading 15 pages of your calculus textbook and make notes and complete question 1-12? Or research for 5 sources for your English essay, and complete 7 pages of point from notes on the topic? Start organizing your time by filling in all the days you will not be studying due to vacation, meetings, jobs, or prior commitments. Then fill in the rest of the calendar based on the topics you want to cover all the way up to the test day. Be as specific as you can when filling in your schedule so that you know exactly what to study on which day.
- Track Your Progress
Tracking your progress is your best form of self-feedback, and it will give you a realistic sense of how well (or how badly) you are doing.
For each practice section you do, write down how many questions you got correct/wrong. This trick will help you to immediately identify your strengths and weaknesses, and analyze your error patterns: for instance, your strength may be performing arithmetic rapidly, but tracking your progress may reveal that word problems in trigonometry are your problem area.
Remember, every mistake that you make during practice is one that you can avoid on your real tests or exams. You can achieve this goal by reviewing your answers and locating the point where you made an error; reflect on your thought process, revise it and try again.
- Take Control of Time Management
Your most valuable tool when studying for your tests and exams is the ability to control your time. For each of your study sessions, only you can tell yourself what to study and motivate yourself to achieve goals.
You can make the path to successful time management easier by first finding a good place to study–make sure that it is quiet and away from distractions. Also, try to find a location that is easy to commute to. You lose valuable time if you have to drive an hour to another library when there is a conference room down the hall.
Stay motivated! Be sure to set specific study breaks so that you don’t burn yourself out. Taking breaks will help you to refuel (eat a snack!), to rethink (reflect on the answers you got wrong), and to reflect (track your current progress for this week). Studying can be done anywhere and anytime. I bring flashcards with me and review them while waiting for the bus, or I read a passage or review a section while waiting for a lab experiment to finish. These are all valuable opportunities to get some studying done.
- Find Discipline and Motivation
The most difficult part of studying for tests and exams is motivation and managing stress. Learning to remain calm when you hit an obstacle, such as not understanding how to apply a physics equation right away, will help you on tests by allowing you to still think clearly.
These are several things I’ve learned that will help you to face obstacles:
First, have a support system for yourself. This can include family members, friends, tutors, or even your study buddies! These individuals can be your moral support and the source of inspiration when you hit a low point and don’t lose motivation to study. When you have a bad study day or feel like you are not getting anything productive done, go talk to them in person.
Chances are that they will help you figure out what is wrong, and may even help you re-arrange your study schedule so that you can better retain study material.
Secondly, have an outlet for your stress. By ‘outlet’, I mean that you should have a hobby or activity outside of just studying that you can pursue to relax. Try reading a good novel, going for a walk, gardening or cooking. Having an outlet will help you relieve stress and make you more disciplined about studying when you return to your books.
The post is originally written by Queen Elizabeth Academy – Tutoring Mississauga.