Tips to start the academic year well
Having run over 5000 study skills seminars over the last 20 years, Dr Prue Salter has been asked many questions about study skills. Below are some of the common questions she is asked.
- Should you type or handwrite study notes?
If the exam will be handwritten, students are better to handwrite study notes. This creates muscle memory and helps student practice their handwriting skills. However, many students prefer to type their study notes as it is so much easier to organize the information. If students choose to type, when they are learning their notes they need to read a section, see what they can write down without looking and check and see if they were correct. This will help them practise their handwriting skills while committing the information to memory.
At Mount Alvernia College, we use the Cornell method of note taking in all classes. You can watch this short video for a reminder of how to take Cornell notes.
- If students don’t know how to study, what should they be doing?
Sadly, many students think that studying for a test just means reading their notes over and over. This is the slowest and most ineffective way of studying. Studying involves 3 steps. The first is make study notes or summaries on what they have been learning. The second is to learn the notes by testing themselves over and over on the information to be retained. The last step is to do as much practice as possible – the more different questions they can do, and preferably under time constraints, the better they will be prepared. Remember that we all learn in different ways so there is scope to allow students to use techniques that suit their individual learning style, such as recording notes to listen to.
- How can students get more organised?
The first step is to work out what area of organisation you want to target. Books, computer files, locker, diary, desk, folders…the list goes on. There is no point saying to a student ‘you need to be more organised’. Instead, identify an area where there could be improvement. Then, with your student, work out specific strategies to implement to address this issue. Once this issue is under control, then move onto the next problem.
- What time should students go to bed?
Although it varies, most students need at least 8 hours of sleep each night. Therefore work backwards, allow an hour or so for students to get ready for bed and fall asleep, then work backwards to the time they need to get up for school. Have students pay attention to how they feel in the morning – they may need less or more sleep than the average.
Attribution: Study tips provided by Study Skill Handbook and used with permission of Dr Prue Salter.