For success in high school and post-secondary education, it is imperative to adopt effective learning techniques. Most Canadian students lack proper study habits because these skills are not taught in schools. So even students who are motivated often struggle in their core subjects, such as English, math, and sciences.
If your child is struggling with their learning take a look at the list of bad habits below and see how you can help them adopt better techniques.
Studying and Preparation
When we initially speak to our students and ask them how they study, many say that they read their notes the night before a test or a quiz to make sure they know the material. Many students truly believe that they are putting in a good effort and expect good results just by looking over the material once or twice before their test date. So, how do you fix this poor study habit? Routine studying leading up to your test date is key to achieving academic success. Depending on the size of the assessment, secondary school students should plan their study schedule so that they are practicing the tested material 1-2 hours every single day, 5-7 days before the actual test date. Studying regularly over a few days is effective; cramming is not.
Students must keep their attention and focus solely on test preparation and not allow themselves to get distracted. Be sure to remove all distractions from the study area. Having a cell phone face down is not good enough, make sure it completely out of sight.
Merely re-reading notes and expecting to remember everything is an ineffective way to prepare for a test day. Memorization and understanding concepts require that the brain transfers the material into our long-term memory. This comes with many hours of practice, rehearsals, self-quizzing, sample problem solving and reviewing the material. So, how should students be studying? During their study, students must be actively engage with the information they are learning. Some examples of active studying include reading the material out-loud and repeating it to oneself, writing down important concepts and going over them regularly, summarizing the content into graphs and diagrams, and solving sample questions to apply what they learned to new situations.
Since it is nearly impossible to concentrate for hours on end, it is very important to frequently integrate small breaks into your study plan. Taking small study breaks can help to increase productivity, focus, and to maintain a positive frame of mind. Small breaks can include things like taking a walk outside (fresh air is always good), reading a book or an interesting article, having a snack, or taking time to exercise. Remember to stick to a break schedule, making sure that a 10-minute break does not end up lasting an hour.
Feedback and Assessments
Often, once a student feels comfortable with the material, they think their studying is complete. However, at this stage of the studying process, it is crucial that they self-test to truly assess their knowledge of the material at hand. Self-testing is the only way students will know if they truly understood the material and where they still need improvement. Self-testing also puts students in the teachers’ seat, allowing them to predict and practice potential test questions that may appear on their test.
Studying for a test is similar to learning a musical instrument or mastering a sport. It requires practice, repetition, making mistakes and learning from these mistakes to become fluent in the material. Studying for a test does not always need to be a daunting task, remember to stay positive and make the most out of the learning process!