To reach your potential at school, it is necessary to supplement your class work with regular homework and study. This will not occur unless you are sufficiently motivated to organise your time between your study and your other commitments. To be properly motivated, you need to set realistic goals and to maintain a positive and disciplined mental attitude.
Study is a habit – the more it is developed, the less difficult it becomes and the more fruitful it proves to be. Regular study during the term reduces anxiety at exam time.
Planning Your Time:
Time is the most valuable resource a student has. With proper use of time students can maximize their learning and progress. Without careful attention, a student may find weeks have passed and little learning has occurred.
Initially, a student needs to draw up a weekly study timetable, balancing their study with other commitments. The recommended hours for study are listed under “College Expectations” in this diary. If you find that there is insufficient time for study, then this may require a reassessment of your other commitments.
The timetable should be realistic and specific; it should contain variety and rest breaks. All subjects should be covered properly, not just ones you enjoy. It should fit your style of study, e.g. some like to study early in the morning before breakfast.
There should be a longer-term timetable covering assignments when they are due and revision for exams.
You should study in a place away from the distraction of family activities, TV and radio. Avoid telephone distractions by telling your friends when you are available or to ring back after your study.
Your desk should be sufficiently large to hold whatever books, folders or resources you will require at the time. There should be a bookcase or shelf for other materials and books that are not being used. The chair should be comfortable but should be designed for good posture. The room should be well ventilated with good lighting.
Developing Good Habits:
Apart from the homework set by teachers, it is essential that you develop your own habit of personal study. Even if no official homework is set, it is expected that the recommended hours be spent on study.
As a minimum, you should read over the day’s work and at the end peruse the likely areas for the next day’s classes. It is essential that your produce something from your hours of study. Summaries, outlines, flow charts, sample answers will help you learn and remember, as well as being handy aids for later revision.
Research shows that immediate revision of work learnt dramatically increases the amount of details remembered. Regular revision then maintains this level. Have a system of reviewing the work covered at the end of the week or of the month.
Studying for Examinations:
This should be the culmination of months of regular study rather than a last minute cram. While extra time may be spent on study, it is important to keep eating, sleeping and exercising sensibly. Working late into the early hours of the morning, greatly reduces the effectiveness of the study.
Students like to predict examination questions so as to reduce the amount of study time required. However, this method is fraught with danger and turns the exam into a lottery. Instead, you should use the syllabus as a guide to the information and skills that are required to succeed. When these are mastered, it is then appropriate to put extra effort into some more likely areas to maximise your marks. Past papers, newspaper guides, and recommendations from your teachers or educational associations - can all indicate probable or topical issues.
There are many other important areas of study, such as note taking, essay writing and examination techniques that are vital skills for all students. Also, some students may experience particular difficulties in certain areas such as reading, writing or memorising. It is important to identify these weaknesses as early as possible so that remedial action can be taken. Let your parents/caregivers or teachers know if you believe you have a particular weakness in study techniques.