Study Tips

Getting Ready

Many students think staring at a page in a book is studying.  Some think just re-reading their notes or text is studying.  But, for most people, this doesn’t work, and they become frustrated.

Studying is not easy.  Studying skills are not something everyone is born with.  You need to learn and practice studying skills.

Most people need to use 2 to 4 different ways of studying to be successful.

This guide is aimed at helping students explore different ways and tools for studying.  Not all ways will work for every student.  You need to try them out, see what works for you, and practice!

Study skills should also change for each subject.  Studying for Math is very different from studying for Language Arts.

Environment is also important.  In order to study, your mind needs to be focused.  If your mind is distracted by noise, interruptions, being tired or hungry, it can’t focus on the material.  Quiet background music can help some people, but it should be at a low level, calm and not distracting.  If you are singing along, picturing the hotties in the video, or constantly changing the playlist, it is a distraction, not a help.

 To set up your studying environment, make sure you have quite and relaxing spot. Get away from things that will draw your attention.  Have all your materials gathered, have pencils or highlighters or sticky notes so you don’t have to constantly get distracted by going to get things. Have a snack or drink, but don’t try studying while eating a whole meal.  Make sure you have enough light.  Dark areas will strain your eyes and make you sleepy.  Make sure you have a comfy, but supportive chair.  Lying down will make you sleepy.  Turn off phones, TV, video games etc. Having conversations, unless its about studying, will distract you.  Set a goal time before you begin. Last, be positive.  If you are thinking, “this sucks” or “I can’t do this”, your brain will fight you.  You can do it!

General Tips

Be organized.

Track each day’s lesson using your agenda and the online calendar.  If you know what lesson is coming next, preview it the night before.  Then when the teacher goes over it, it will be the second time not the first you are looking at the information.

Use your agenda to track what lessons and assignments you should be reviewing each night.

Use the “Completed” table at the beginning of each workbook to track when each lesson and assignment was done.  This way if you miss time, you will know what you are missing and can get it done without waiting to ask the teacher what you missed.

Parents, you can also track the daily lessons on the online calendar and ask to see the agenda every night or ask to see the workbook “Completed” table.  This helps prevent the “I don’t have any homework” excuse before students get behind.  If you see a lesson was supposed to be completed, but those corresponding pages in the book are not done, then you know they need to do it without waiting for the teacher to enter the mark as incomplete.  Prevention is key!

Review your notes or lesson from each subject everyday.

Do this by either orally explaining the main points to someone in the house – parents you can help with this.  Ask students over supper to explain what they learned – but not just the title or topic of the lesson.  Ask 5W type questions about it.

If you don’t have someone to explain to orally, then try using a smartphone or tablet with a voice memo app to dictate your notes too.  Try doing it once where you dictate all of the notes, then again where you chose main points and dictate a summary.  Then you can replay these for yourself later when you are studying.

If you don’t have tech to dictate into, try rewriting your notes.  There is strong memory connection between reading and rewriting kinetically.  As above, rewrite an entire copy, then rewrite again with just a point form outline.  You can then save these for later studying as well.

Use the I Can Statements.

Each lesson has an I Can statement to help decide what is a main point when summarizing.  If you summary can answer the I Can Statement, you have the right info.  Parents, you can help with this too.  Read the I Can statement for the day’s lesson to the students and ask them to explain it.

Students, use the checklist at the front of each unit portfolio of I Can Statements when studying for a unit test.  If you can explain them all in detail without looking back at your notes, then you have a good understanding.

Review your assignments.

Use the online markbook to track your marks.  Anything you got less than a 3 on means you didn’t fully understand or complete it properly.  This means you still have something to learn and to show the teacher you can do now.

Go back and fix up and complete anything that isn’t a 3 and resubmit it to your teacher to get feedback on.  Do this before the unit test.  Doing assignments after the tests is like going to hockey practice after you lost the tournament.  It’s not effective. Make sure you know or can do everything before test time.

Parents, you can help by also checking the markbook frequently and setting a standard for what are acceptable marks in your family.  When marks don’t meet that standard, have students re-do or rewrite, and set a reasonable goal for them to complete this.  Again, this prevents the “I don’t have homework” excuse and students getting way behind.

Use the practice tests.

Sometimes these are done in class, but you can also do them at home, either on your own, or get someone to ask you the questions.  Check the answer keys from the website.  Questions you got wrong are a hint to not only study the write answer but that whole topic since test questions will be similar but not the exact same.

Do the review questions.

Don’t just read them.  Actually answer them on paper or verbally to someone.  Writing them out increases memory retention.  Ones you can’t answer without looking back at your notes is a sign you need to study that topic more.

Do the review puzzles.

Most subjects and units have a review puzzle of some type.  Test yourself with them by trying them without using notes.  And when you get one wrong, find the right answer in your notes or ask your teacher!

Use the further learning suggestions.

They are at then end of most unit workbooks.  Try the website, or read the books.  Many of these provide an alternate way of looking at something, so if you didn’t get it the way it was done in class, this different way might be what you need.

All of the novel suggestions can be borrowed from your teacher.  Don’t be afraid to ask. They are there for a reason.  They help – big time! Your writing skills will also improve the more you read!

Use Quizlet.

Do the sets of terms, pictures and other activities.  Don’t only use the games.  Use Quizlet to make tests, practice the spelling and use the audio function to hear how the words are pronounced.

You can also print paper copies of flashcards from Quizlet so that an adult at home or study partner can quiz you.

You can also make your own sets and share with friends.  This will be a good skill when you are in class where the teacher doesn’t use Quizlet.  You will be able to make your own study tools.

Try Alberta Exambank to prepare for exams.

It will generate tests and correct them for you.  They will be similar to the type of questions on your exams.

Use your old tests.

If you got to keep your tests, use them to study.  If you didn’t get paper copies of your tests, when it is exam time, ask your teacher for your old tests so you can study from them, either on paper, or shared electronically.

Go to extra help.

Timing is important.  Going to extra help right away when you don’t understand is way more effective then going the day before the test.  And if you can’t go right away, try to go at least before the test.  Many students wait till after the have gotten a poor test mark to go to review and then rewrite the test.  Again, this is like going to piano practice after you bombed out at the concert.

 Go with questions.  Just saying “I don’t get this” or showing up and sitting in a chair is not enough.  You teacher is not going to re-teach a whole school day again after school.  Come with questions. Things like “I don’t understand how to solve this question” or “What type of details should I add to this story” are much more effective.

 If you don’t have questions, but just want quiet space to work on some of these other study tips that’s okay too.  Your teacher will be there if you run into problems.  You can also ask for suggestions for extra practice, or games they might have to help you.  Teachers often have way more tools than they have time to use in class.  Ask them what things you can do for a specific topic.

Take a study skills class.

If you are very busy after school with sports or extra-curricular activities that’s great! Those are important social and physical and creative things too!  But you still need time for review.  Consider using extra time in the school day to do you review in a study skills class if you often are busy at night.

And even if you are studying at night, but just need a bit more time, study skills can work for you.  Some students just benefit from the structured time, or studying while a teacher is present so they can ask questions before they forget.

Student Success - Whatever It Takes!!