Developing effective study habits and learning strategies


  Developing effective study habits and learning strategies

Studying is a complex process and it can be difficult to figure out what the best studying strategy is for you. In this article we will look at how to determine your learning style and find strategies that work best for you.

Learning styles are identified as someone who learns with audio, reading, visual or kinesthetic input. Depending on how your brain works, different study methods can work better than others. For example, if you learn better from seeing information in front of you then using a white board for note taking while watching a lecture will be more effective than just listening to the professor speak without any visuals.

1. Get to know your learning style.
To figure out which studying strategy is best for you, first find out what type of learning you prefer and why. To do this research different study resources such as wikis, flashcards and books. While a teacher may not agree with the style that you learn the best way (for example: I prefer audio input but my teacher would rather see me writing down notes), it is better to find out what works best for you before committing to anything specific. As a result, you are more likely to stick with it.

2. Establish a study routine and stick to it.
Once you understand the type of learning style that you prefer, start to think about the best study strategy that will work best for you. For example, if you learn best by listening/reading information from your textbook and notes then using a white board is probably not the most effective method of studying for you (see point 1). On the other hand, if your preferred method of learning is by watching or reading through a book while listening to audio (the alternative) then there is potential that your approach will be more successful in the long run (see point 1).

3. Find a study partner to help you stay on track.
To help motivate you to stick with your study routine, its best to find someone else who is also studying for the same material. This person can look at your notes and check if they are correct or even help you to fill in gaps in comprehension that you may have missed (analogous to having a peer proofread your homework). It will also be much easier for him/her to keep track of the material when they are required to do so as well. Finally, it will be easier for him/her too. In terms of motivation, this person can provide some compliments and advice when he finds something new.

4. Establish a reward system.
Once you start to get some momentum with your studying, it is best to reward yourself when you accomplish something specific (like finishing a section in the book or writing out 10 flashcards) that will make it easier to continue on. Having something to look forward to when the work gets tough can make a world of difference in your study routine, especially if you have set out main goals and deadlines for you to go by. Finally, the reward system is also an effective way of staying motivated while working towards your goals.

5. Identify times when you are most productive.
Studies have shown that there are certain times of the day that people work better than others, so it is important to take note of these and plan accordingly. For example, some people naturally wake up early in the morning and prefer to tackle their assignments then, while others are at their best in the late afternoon or evening. It is best to keep this in mind when deciding how and when you will tackle your schoolwork (possibly by taking into consideration your classes).

6. Establish a system for what portion of the work you will complete each day.
Once you have understood your studying approach, it is important to figure out a system that will help you divide your work up appropriately. If you are an auditory learner then it is good to try and divide up the material into smaller chunks and fill in gaps whilst listening/reading through the information. For example, if your textbook has over 200 pages on different areas of test preparation then it may be best to divide them up into 4 units of work (to be completed in one go) so that you can listen/read through as much as possible before moving on to the next unit.

7. Set yourself goals that are specific, measurable, realistic and timely.
Based on the goals you have set for yourself, what would you like to accomplish at the end of a certain amount of time (for example: by the end of the semester I would like to get an A in this class)? It will be important to know exactly what you want and need from each assignment so that you can stay disciplined and motivated with your study routine.
In order for your study strategies to work effectively, it is crucial to find out what type of studying style works best for you. In doing this you will be more likely to use the studying strategies that are most effective and utilize the right amount of time that you need to complete the work.
Suggested reading:
1) Study Smarter, Not Harder by Susan R. Petersen and Daniel J. Shipley (This book is adapted from their very helpful study system, "Study Smart"). This book has been designed for people like you who prefer learning through books and notes over listening to lectures etc. It is a great starting point for anyone interested in improving their study habits.
2) Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath  (This article contains an excellent resource if you are looking for more information on how our brains learn. It also has great information on how to use our minds to retain new information).
3) Five Principles of Good Study Habits by Scott Young (This article is a good starting point for anyone who is interested in improving their study and learning strategies. It gives you a good overview of how to set up a study plan that will work for you; especially if you are not sure where to begin)

Forming habits is very important when studying for any exam. Habits are formed through two different processes: stimulus-response and associative-instrumental learning.

In stimulus-response, the brain responds directly to stimuli of the environment and forms an association which leads later into action. In contrast, associative-instrumental learning occurs when the brain makes associations between stimuli, thoughts and behaviour.
This type of learning is more influential to exam outcomes. We have studied that the more we study the greater the chance we develop a habit. Also it is known that we can change these habits if we apply the right methods and strategies. Habitual behaviours can often become automatic, even when there is no conscious action towards them.
In order to form good habits it is important to know what you want (wants) and need (needs). You also have to know what you are looking for in an answer or a solution which will be very different from just identifying problems in a test.


Before writing this paper i have been thinking about the study habits a lot and i came up with a few strategies to help me. These strategies are meant to be passed on for other students who want to improve their study habits. I hope that all these strategies will work for you and give you the power you need to succeed in your exams and classes. This is my first paper so please comment and rate :)

This is my second paper, it is about the tools needed in order to achieve efficiency and success in exam sittings. I can help others by telling them what sort of things they need for success.

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