Study Skills That Actually Work!

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"I studied SO hard for my math test, knew everything, and still BOMBED it - what gives?!" Sound familiar? It does to me! Being in the tutoring business, I hear many of the same things over and over again - and that's what gives me insight into what our tutors need to tackle with students. Test taking - a huge one!

It's been one month since school started, which is about the time is takes for teachers to assign their first major test - aka FREAKOUT TIME!

Sure, learning the actual math and science curriculum is a given when it comes to tutoring, but there is often a lot more than meets the eye when it comes to getting good grades at school. Knowing the material is half the battle - but the OTHER half is a combination of things, one being the development of study skills...that ACTUALLY work. I say it this way because many of our students 'study'...they just don't study effectively. This often results in frustration and a lack of confidence that goes on to negatively affect their math marks and even their attitude towards school, which totally sucks.

I was recently on Global's The Morning Show talking about how choosing the right strategies to study effectively can be daunting, especially because there are so so many to choose from, and their effectiveness really does depend on the individual. So let's start here, with a list of study techniques that might REALLY work for you!

1. Choose your work space wisely!

When I was in high school, I could NOT stand working in a quiet space. Libraries? Forget it. Kitchen table? No way. It made me restless and lonely and I just felt like studying SUCKED when I was all alone. The best thing for me was to set up at a cozy coffee shop and study for hours - I loved it. The buzz around me was bustling enough to make me feel like I was part of something, but not loud and distinct enough to distract me from what I was doing. To this day, my favourite places to write, study or do work are coffee shops! Plus, if you need a snack break, you don't have to even go anywhere - perfection.

That being said, the "coffee shop strategy" won't work for just anyone. Some people get distracted by ANYthing and really do need to be sequestered, alone, somewhere. If that's you, it's important to have a designated space to study - your kitchen, den, bedroom - whatever it is, make it THE place you study, and have everything you might possibly need in that space so that when you're ready for it, it's ready for you.

2. Skimming doesn't equal studying!

Reading over your math notes in NO way replaces actual practice. This is one of the biggest ways in which students misuse their studying time! The best way to study for a math or science test is to go over past problems you've done in class, in previous quizzes, or in your homework. Do them ALL over again and make sure you get them right the second time around!

3. Your teacher gives you freebies - you just need to listen!

If you're short on time and wondering which questions to focus on while studying, always start with the questions your teacher covered in class! Chances are, those are the ones they think are the most important!

4. Study before you actually HAVE to study!

We all know that cramming isn't exactly the best way to study for a test - and there's an easy way to avoid it! In addition to doing your homework at night, take a few minutes to go through the notes you took in class, fill in any gaps, and make sure you understand them. If there's anything that you don't fully get, address it with your teacher the next day. By the time you get assigned a test, you at least know that you get the gist of the subject matter - now you just have to fully nail it down!

Quick Fix: Do's and Don'ts to Studying Effectively

  • DON'T have your phone ANYWHERE NEAR YOU. It literally cannot benefit you in any way - trust me! Take a ten minute phone break every hour if you absolutely need your instagram fix;)
  • DO get organized from day one - get a binder for every subject and make sure that it's organized on a daily basis! That way when it comes to study time, you have everything ready to go!
  • DON'T "borrow your friend's calculator"! Every calculator is different and you want your very own that you can get to know and master before test time strikes!
  • DO study with friends - as long as they don't distract you! Make sure you all study independently, even if you're in the same place - that way you're still getting actual studying in, but have someone to ask for help if you're totally stumped on something!
  • DON'T stay up all night! All-nighters are one of the worst things that can happen to your brain - check out this article for the sordid details - ew!
  • DO take breaks! Your brain needs to rest and rejuvenate, so take a ten minute break every hour. If you want to get really hardcore, use that ten minutes for exercise - 100 jumping jacks go a long way towards rejuvenating your brain AND getting your blood flowing after staring at a textbook for an hour!

Craving more knowledge? Check out ASAP SCIENCE'S quick video on the 9 best scientific study tips - it's one of our favourites!

Cheers and happy studying!