Sunday, September 8, 2013

7 Study Tips to Go!

Several weeks ago, many students began returning from the summer break to begin a new school year. The last wave of students will be entering their classrooms and meeting their new teachers during the coming week. It’s hard to believe, but as we approach the end of the first month of school, these students will be starting to prepare for their first quizzes and tests of the new school year. (How does that thought make YOU feel?)

For some children and teens, testing is considered just part of being a student. However, for the many students with reading and learning challenges of various kinds, a looming quiz or test can cause much anxiety, which in turn can negatively impact student well-being, academic attitudes, test performance and overall learning success.

How can students avoid these negative issues? The answer is with GOOD prep for quizzes, tests and other assessments that are a necessary part of student learning. As a follow-up to last week's article about one, very effective study method called SQ3R (, we wanted to present here some tips and tricks to effectively help students manage both study times and test sessions. Instead of inducing anxiety and stress, we hope that the tips offered here will make a real difference when the teacher announces “the first test” of the school year or ANY test from September to June.

7 Study Tips to Go!

1. Break down the content: Take the content to be learned and break it into “chunks” of information. If you are to learn the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution by next week, break it down into lines or sections, and study one line/section each day until it is committed to memory. Of course, this means that you will want to start early, as soon as the work is assigned.
RESULT: You will be able to “pace” yourself and not experience that feeling of “overwhelm” with too much information needing your attention at once.

2. Create acronyms & funny stories: Take the details of the information you need to learn and turn them into acronyms (a series of letters that stands for something meaningful) with a funny twist or story connection. For example, if you need to remember the Order of Operations in mathematics, create the acronym PEMDAS, but recall it with “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally.” This will serve as a “funny” prompt that you should always address math problems in this order:

P------> Parentheses first
E------> Exponents (i.e. Powers and Square Roots, etc.)
MD---> Multiplication and Division (left-to-right)
AS----> Addition and Subtraction (left-to-right)

RESULT: It will be easier to remember details with these acronyms and “funny” tales.

3. Change it up: Change the location of WHERE you choose to study. Scientific research indicates that sticking to one study location and simply alternating the room where a person studies, improves retention. An older student might choose to visit a different but quiet location each day when trying to learn the same or related content. Because the brain is being forced to form new associations (in the different locations) with the same material, it actually becomes a stronger memory.

4. Write it out/Type it out: There is something about writing something down that impresses the brain. Gather ALL the important points (main ideas) from one section of material needing to be learned and re-write those points on a NEW sheet of paper. If writing is a challenge for you (i.e. dysgraphia, dyspraxia, etc.), type these points on your computer and print them out. Type each point in a different font or color to further impress the brain.
RESULT: You will be providing your brain with even more “memory prompts” by doing these above activities.

5. Talk it out: In addition, the act of reading information aloud can have a positive effect on one’s memory. Try it. Read aloud the important points or details from a studied section of content. For this activity, be sure to find an appropriate location for your “read-aloud” study!
RESULT: Your brain will be mentally storing the details by both “seeing” AND “hearing” the needed information.

6. Create flashcards: For vocabulary word study or learning facts and dates for social studies, history or science content, consider writing out (or typing, if needed) flashcards on regular 3” X 5” index cards. Put each new vocabulary word on one side of a card with its definition on the card’s reverse side. For other content, put the date, event or other term on one side with the explanation of each on the reverse side. With a standard hole-puncher tool, punch a hole in the upper left-hand corner of each card with and ring them all together with a loose-leaf binder ring. Do this for each major section of content to help you better prepare for chapter tests, etc. Then, after the test, file them away (with labeled dividers) in a re-cycled shoebox for end-of-unit study or semester exam prep later.
RESULT: You will be “imprinting” your brain with each card’s information and will be much more prepared for assessments, no matter when they are scheduled. You can also carry each set of study flashcards in your purse or backpack, always ready for an impromptu study session or simply while waiting for a friend to join you.

7. Use good study tools: Select reading and study tools that can effectively contribute to your learning experience. Consider online tools such as Evernote, Studyblue, Zotero and Google Hangouts to jumpstart your study efforts, especially if you like FREE tech downloads (See Resources to follow here.). Should focus and concentration be issues for you, you might want to take a look at the Reading Focus Cards (Patent 7,565,759). These teacher-created, reading tools can help isolate 1-2 lines of text in a book, document and even on tech devices such as Kindles, iPads and other e-readers and e-tablets. Law, medical students and others with massive amounts of content to read, use these tools and have found them to be quite helpful, especially when focus and attention are study issues.
RESULT: More focus and concentration on content lead to better retention. The RIGHT tools for an individual can make ALL the difference in one’s learning success.


“How to Study” Resources
Scroll halfway down page to access FREE downloadable resources for better study results.

23 Science-Backed Study Tips to Ace a Test
Excellent tips that work when preparing for tests and exams

Forget What You Know About Good Study Habits by Benedict Carey, New York Times

Five FREE online study tools for higher grades
Merge new technology with studying and use these five free online study tools. They allow you to study anywhere your laptop or phone can go, helping you make great use of the extra chunks of time in your day: riding the bus, waiting for a professor’s office hours to start, or hanging out between classes.

Reading Focus Cards (Patent 7,565.759)--These reading tools are solutions for challenged readers of all ages. They can be especially helpful for children, teens and adults with ADHD, dyslexia, autism, low vision and other issues that impact reading success.

For information on customizable reading tools: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

Image courtesy of: Brennan Innovators, LLC:

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