Effective Study Skills

By Dina Halaseh, Educational Psychologist

Many students come to me complaining about studying for a long time and not remembering what they studied the night before.

As I dig deeper into their study habits, I notice that many of these students share the same (incorrect) techniques.

Latest studies and research indicate that some of our most used techniques do not help in remembering what we read. For example: highlighting! As much as this technique is favoured among students and teachers, it results in a fake sense of mastery in which some students think they memorised the topic; when tested for it, recalling it difficult.

The best techniques, can be summed up with these tips:

Self-testing: Having a practice test before the actual one helps you understand and measure how much information you stored and whether or not you fully understand the topic. This also includes forcing your brain to recall information when studying for information. So, covering the page and forcing yourself to recite the information you have read is a great way to recall facts

Spacing: Many students tend to procrastinate until the very last minute and end up cramming it all in one sitting. According to the latest research, spacing out the material and going over it over a couple of days results in better retrieval in the long run. If students wish to remember the studied material for a longer time, it is better if they read it once and study it again after a couple of weeks. The longer the time interval between each study period, the longer the information sticks!

Self-explanation: Whenever you are learning new information or new lessons, try self-explanation. Acting as a teacher and explaining the topic goes a long way in understanding and remembering it better. With this technique, students can see the gaps in their understanding. Just like self-testing does, whenever students gets stuck, it means they have not mastered the topic yet

Interrogation: Asking questions and acting as a little child pays off! This technique helps students get better results by asking WHY. Whenever they learn something new, they ask why and how it does make sense. This works best when a student already knows something about the subject. Doing this links new information to their prior knowledge and helps them make new connections that can help with memorisation

Alternation: We usually tend to study in blocks, finishing one topic before moving to the other. Science shows that alternating between more than one type of problem helps us see what is common and different about these problems. With fairly similar questions, it is better to alternate between different types so you can spot the differences. While the opposite works for problems that are different. Doing different types of problems helps you see what is in common

Let us start this new year with better studying habits and helping our children achieve their best academically!   

You can contact Halaseh at halasehdina@gmail.com