5 Important Tips for Studying Smarter

By Dr Raymond Huntington

If you or your child have an impression that studying should be intense and time consuming to be effective, guess again. Studies show that the most successful students don’t necessarily study harder, but smarter. How can your child learn to embrace strong study habits? Here are a few tips to make the very most of study sessions:

  1. Plan ahead. Cramming is the enemy of the strong student. Encourage your child to plan ahead so that study sessions are spaced over time. Repeated reviewing of material is more effective at helping students recall and remember information. Your child will be more successful if he or she studies once a day for seven days prior to a test as opposed to just one seven-hour study session the day before.
  2. Read the right way. Most classes involve reading, and some might require a lot. Your child can retain what he or she reads by practicing active reading, or reading with purpose. That means previewing a text for information, writing down any questions or ideas before diving in, identifying key terms or information while reading, recalling information and self-checking at natural stopping points along the way (such as the ends of sections or chapters), and reading summaries carefully at the end of each session. Reading in this way helps children absorb things and it also guides them toward improved comprehension and retention.
  3. Practice self-testing. Taking periodic quizzes and tests while studying new material helps students remember information, and particularly by continuing to test information after it has been learned. Children can jot down questions as they read their text or notes to assemble a self-test to take later. Encourage your child to always draw from information that the teacher has noted as important (rather than random or obscure passages in the textbook).
  4. Don’t waste time on futile practices. Certain popular study techniques have actually been found by researchers to be largely ineffective. Highlighting is a tool that many students rely upon to identify important information, but if a student highlights too much or too little or focuses on the wrong information, it can be counterproductive. The use of keyword mnemonics to memorize information is another study trick that has been proven to be unproductive, especially for the level of effort required. Bottom line: your child should embrace study practices that yield results and do away with those that do not.
  5. When in doubt, turn to the teacher. Memorizing notes or chapter summaries is not the best way to learn information and certainly not the best way to review it either. If the teacher doesn’t initiate such a conversation in class, your child should arrange a time to talk with the teacher about what is most important to focus on while preparing for a test.

Studying does not come naturally to every student, and while your child might have good intentions, these strategies will help him or her prepare for tests more efficiently and more effectively. As your child gets closer to high school, he or she will especially appreciate having reliable techniques for learning. If your child could use assistance improving those study skills, call Huntington. We can customize a program that will improve your child’s methods and approach—and result in academic success.


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