30 Days to Better Study Skills

The study “strategy” for most students is the same:  Wait until the night before an assignment is due or before a test to hit the books and study.  Unfortunately, for most of us, that strategy eventually catches up and hits our grades—hard.

Good news:  There’s a better way!  Here’s a systematic approach that in 30 days can turn you into a master student.  We’ll start with week 1.

DAYS 1-7: Take some learning assessments.  It’s a fact that professional educators have known for generations:  Everybody learns differently.  Fortunately, there are tests available now (Many on the Internet) that tell you what kind of learner you are.  Once you know how you learn, you can base your study strategy on these facts rather than on speculation about what might help you.  Do a google search on “learning style” or “learning assessment.”

DAYS 8-15: Meet with a career counselor.  Often the career counselor can give you the assessment we discussed above.  Even if you take the assessment online, though, it’s still helpful to meet with her.  There are career counselors at high schools, colleges, and even employment centers.  Ask the counselor for information on learning strategies based on your own particular needs.  Alternatively, you can again do a Google search on “study strategies.”  There are scores of good articles available.  Print them all out and compile them in a notebook and spend several days doing nothing but reading through these strategies.

DAYS 16-20: Begin implementing at least one of the strategies in your notebook that you believe meshes with your learning style.  Usually you should implement only one strategy at a time so that you can determine which one works for you and which one you can discard.  Having said that, it’s possible that different classes will be helped by different strategies, so don’t forever limit yourself to just one strategy.  And again, remember:  All strategies that you try should match with what you have determined is your learning style.  For instance, maybe you’ve decided that you’re a visual learning. Then use the strategy that is heavy on visual aids.

DAYS 21 -30: Spend time assessing your progress.  It’s pointless to stick with a strategy if it’s not improving your study time and your grades.  During these 10 days, therefor, you examine your current strategy and see how well it’s been working for you.  If it’s going well, keep it up.  If not, move on to another strategy on your list.

These last two steps are key.  Any time you determine that a strategy has not helped you in real, detectable ways (Your grades improve and you’re able to learn the material better and faster), no matter how much you like that strategy, discard it.  There should be plenty more ideas on your list, so find something else and try it for a week or 10 days.  Then assess again.  Eventually you’ll latch onto something that works, and your grades will eventually start reflecting your new, better study habits.

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