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2023/24 Study Skills Advice

Study Skills Guide for Parents & Students.  

A straightforward starting point for trying to absorb information and draw connections in learning is the video below.  

This video is a must for looking at different techniques in learning - 13 Study Tips: The Science of Better Learning.


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Note taking 

How To Take Cornell Notes Properly (Video) 


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Below is a guide for some study habits / techniques.  


Good Study Habits 

The following habits are central to improving your study skills 

1. Decide what to study (reasonable task) and how long or how many (chapters, pages, problems, etc.). Set and stick to deadlines. 

2. Do difficult tasks first. To avoid procrastination, start off with an interesting aspect of the project. 

3. Have special places to study. Take into consideration lighting, temperature, and availability of materials. 

4. Study in time slots e.g., 25 or 50 minutes, and then take a 5 or 10-minute break. Stretch, relax, have an energy snack. 

5. Allow longer, "massed" time periods for organising relationships and concepts, outlining and writing papers. Use shorter, "spaced" time intervals for rote memorisation, review, and self-testing. Use odd moments for recall / review. 

6. If you get tired or bored, switch task / activity, subject or environment. Stop studying when you are no longer being productive. 

7. Do rote memory tasks and review, especially details, just before you fall asleep. 

8. Study with a friend. Quiz each other, compare notes and predict test questions. 

There are many pitfalls to studying. We call them ‘Study Traps’. It is really important not to let them overwhelm you when you try to begin… 

"I Don't Know Where to Begin" 


Take Control. Make a list of all the things you must do. Break your workload down into manageable chunks. Prioritise! Schedule your time realistically. 

I've Got So Much to Study . . . And So Little Time" 



Preview. Survey your syllabus, reading material, and notes. Identify the most important topics emphasised, and areas still not understood. Organise and focus on the main topics. Adapt this method to your own style and study material. 

"This Stuff Is So Dry, I Can't Even Stay Awake Reading It" 



Get actively involved with the text as you read. Ask yourself, "What is important to remember about this section?" Take notes or underline key concepts. Discuss the material with others in your class. Study together. Stay on the offensive, especially with material that you don't find interesting, rather than reading passively and missing important points. 

"I Read It. I Understand It. But I Just Can't Get It to Sink In" 



Elaborate. We remember best the things that are most meaningful to us. As you are reading, try to elaborate upon new information with your own examples. Try to integrate what you're studying with what you already know. You will be able to better remember new material if you can link it to something that's already meaningful to you. 

"I Think I Understand It" 



Test yourself. Make up questions about key sections in notes or reading. Keep in mind what the lecturer has stressed in the course. Examine the relationships between concepts and sections. Often, simply by changing section headings you can generate many effective questions. 

"There's Too Much To Remember" 



Organise. Information is recalled well if it is represented in an organised framework that will make retrieval more systematic. There are many techniques that can help you organise new information, including: 

• Write chapter outlines or summaries; emphasise relationships between sections. 
• Group information into categories or hierarchies, where possible. 
• Information Mapping. Draw up a matrix to organise and interrelate material 

"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 section. If you cannot recall 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 information can be perfectly recalled, further study makes the material less likely to be forgotten entirely. In other words, you can't over-study. However, how you organise and integrate new information is still more important than how much time you spend studying. 

"I'm Gonna Stay Up All Night Until I Get This" 



Avoid Mental Exhaustion. Take short breaks often when studying. When you take a study break, and just before you go to sleep at night, don't think about studying. Relax and unwind, mentally and physically. 

Source: NUIM Study Skills Module 

It is important to note that it is not all about studying. It is as important to have other things. Taking exercise, spending time with friends/family, doing things for others, taking time in nature and doing things that are hard or difficult to do (like learning an instrument, doing a math problem, etc…) are the 5 things that are part of the intrinsic rewarding system that makes us content/happy. Practicing these as often as possible will no only improve your mood but will make learning easier.  

Also here are 5 easy relaxation techniques to help you unwind and de-stress: 

  1. Practice mindful meditation. Meditation is especially helpful for relieving stress because it connects the mind and the body.  

  1. Focus on breathing. (Square breathing is very helpful when you are anxious)  

  1. Reach out to others.  

  1. Find a calming exercise routine.  

  1. Take time for yourself. 

  1. Exercise can release endorphins post activity which can help you make sense of everything, unwind and sleep.