Studying, as valuable as it is, can oftentimes be a stress-inducing experience for students. Especially if they are down to the wire, are being assessed on fresh or new material, are not confident in a subject and so on. There are an array of factors that can impact study time and the study process. However, there are just as many ways to approach studying to make it an empowering experience as opposed to one that can sometimes feel debilitating or ineffective.
Below we outline some steps you can encourage your student to take, and ones that you can support them in taking, to maximize study time
In order for studying to be as productive as possible, there are some other things that should be in place before studying has even begun.
Confirm test type and details provided by the teacher.
First and foremost, it is important that students have a clear understanding of what they’re being assessed on and the kind of test they’re taking so they know how to best study. Flashcards might be best for a vocabulary test where they are recalling the definitions, while a practice essay might be a good way to study for a timed, in-class essay. Knowing what to study, helps students know how to best study.
Once your student knows what they will be assessed on, they can identify how to best study for it and make it their own.
For multiple-choice exams or assessments where students are being asked to memorize or recall information, platforms like Quizlet, and Kahoot are great interactive options that are a digital alternative to creating your own or flashcards with index cards, but with far more features. Students can create digital flashcards, and quizzes and review test material through games on the platform. They can also share and exchange quizzes with their classmates and friends. Not to mention that the added step of entering test material to create their own quizzes and study materials is additional review.
For short answer or written exams where students might be assessed on their ability to discuss, analyze, or apply larger concepts, concept-mapping could be a useful tool. When concept-mapping, students visually organize concepts and ideas, and the relationships between them.
More simply put: they write key words or principles, place circles or boxes around them, and use arrows to show relevant and significant connections. Some students may have also completed a similar task in class. Additional resources for this can be found online with a quick internet search.
Quick Tip: For students that are more visual learners, or tend to lean more toward the creative, try having them integrate drawing or doodling into their studying practice. For example, when studying vocabulary, students can draw images that they feel best represents that word and its meaning.
All students are different and learn differently, these are some ways to support your student in discovering study habits that work best for them.
Take your time.
Encourage your student to begin studying for an assessment in advance. As easy as it can be to procrastinate, especially with other homework, extra-curriculars, and socializing-- getting started ahead of time allows students to pace themselves and avoid the anxiety that can come with cramming. It also gives them time to not simply learn the material to regurgitate it, but learn the material to retain in.
Take a break.
If reviewing information, have your student take a break every 20 min to keep the brain fresh. If writing, have your student take a break every forty minutes. And if reading, every hour. In addition to platforms like Quizlet, and Kahoot, Focus Time is an app that helps keep students on track. The app helps students divide their time up and lets them know when to take a break. Remind your student to give their brain a chance to rest and recoup before diving back in.
Studying is as much a skill as it is a tool. The above tips can help your student develop personalized study habits that will evolve throughout their academic careers and beyond, and implement a tool that, when used effectively, supports engaged learning and your student’s ability to show what they know.