How to study effectively

by Anita Naik

Another school year has started, and with it comes more chances for upheaval and changes. It pays to know how to study effectively to safeguard your learning so that your bases are covered no matter what happens with exam dates and marking in 2022.

Here's what you need to know.

Work on being organised

Step one to being organised is knowing your schedule. Not just when your classes are but when homework is due, when revision needs to be done and when tests are happening. Disorganisation is one of the main reasons why students fall behind and start to do badly in class.

Of course, not all of us have a mental filing cabinet with these details, so if you know remembering things isn't your strength, write things down in multiple places.

1. Have your schedule on your phone.

2. Put a photocopy of your timetable in your bag.

3. Invest in a whiteboard in your room where you can write daily reminders.

4. Set alerts on your phone for homework and revision.

5. Write a daily and weekly task list on your whiteboard and phone.

6. Allocate enough time to tasks on the list.

Learn to take good notes

Students who take notes in lessons take in more than students who listen. This is because they record and review what's being said and have a better chance of knowledge retention. However, taking notes isn't just taking down everything your teachers say; it's about being selective and taking down the critical parts of the lesson.

It involves actively listening to what is being for strong cues to what needs to be taken down. For example, when a teacher says, "This is important/vital" or "this happened because" or starts breaking down a theory into components. These are all keynotes to make.

Then remember the value in note-taking comes from being able to review the notes at home for revision. So, don't be afraid to ask for class notes or further reading if you missed something in class.

Once you get home, it pays to go over your notes. Take a highlighter so that the keynotes pop out of the text. This is good for reviewing notes and also future revision. If reviewing triggers reminders add these to your notes, and if they don't make sense, make a note and ask your peers or teacher for further explanations.

Label all your handouts

The next step in being organised is to organise and label class handouts. In class, it's obvious where a handout fits in, but when you get home, you can suddenly find yourself with 20 different handouts and no idea what they mean or why you have them.

Step one is to label all handouts as soon as you get them, with subject and date, so you can work out where they go in your notes.

Step two is to read them. Obvious, but many handouts go unread.

Step three is to use a highlighter pen to pull out critical facts.

Step four is to ask your teacher/lecturer if something on the handout doesn't make sense.

Step four is to put them in a subject folder (colour code your subjects, so you know where everything goes) to have them when revision comes round.

Ask for help

There are all kinds of reasons why students don't ask for help. You can feel too nervous to admit you have missed something; a teacher can be intimidating; you don't want to acknowledge that you have fallen behind; you feel ashamed you don't understand something.

The list is endless. If that rings a bell for you, then ignore all those thoughts. Teachers are there to help, and if they can't, a tutor can help with bespoke support that helps you with subject issues and confidence issues. The key is not to wait too long.