Let’s get right to it. You don’t need more study skills. That’s probably not what you expected to read on a study skills website. But it’s true, nonetheless. You probably have enough skills to survive school.
For example, you can probably read. We are a literate society, for the most part. Most of us can read somewhere between 200-250 words per minute. At that rate, this article will take you less than 3 minutes to read.
You know how to take notes – write down what the guy said.
You know how to write a paper – type with the keys, hit “spellcheck,” fix anything that doesn’t make sense. Your grammar may stink, but you probably have a friend or two who can help with that.
Needing more skills is probably not your problem.
You need the right study skills, not more skills.
Your teachers and professors have taught you how to study by assigning homework. You’ve learned what to do by doing it. The way you take notes (or don’t), the way you read (or don’t), the way you study for tests (or don’t), is typically picked up by years of success or failure.
And then you hit the bump in the road. You bomb a test.
Most people’s first impulse is to then blame the teacher. “I’m obviously too brilliant to get a D on this test. That test was just stupid” (that’s what it sounded like when it happened to me, anyway). But truthfully, that’s not helpful. If you bomb a test, learn from it and move on. Ask questions of the teacher, but take it as an opportunity to evaluate your study skills.
For most people, there are two consistent problems:
- Not doing the right things to prepare.
- Doing the right things in wrong way.
In both of these situations, the right study skills could have helped. Each of us will feel one of these more than the other. Some people know they didn’t study hard enough. They didn’t read, they didn’t take notes, they didn’t get into a study group, they didn’t do the review sheet. They may have looked through the book or over the review material from the teacher, but they just didn’t spend much time on it. Sometimes this is a case of thinking the test would be easier than it was. Other times its just a case of “I-don’t-want-to.” Either way, it’s caused by not doing the right things to prepare.
Then there’s the group that did the right things. This is more frustrating. They read, they took notes, they went over the review material, they were in a study group, they made 17,000 flash cards, but they still bombed the test. When this happens, it feels like there really isn’t anything you can do to make a difference. You did the right things, worked hard, yet still failed.
There’s hope for both groups. Two suggestions will help these groups move forward.
1. Do what you know.
Everyone has a bad test. It’s important to simply do what you know you need to do. Put in the time and energy into what you already know, and you’ll see decent results. If it’s worked for years, it’s likely it will work again.
2. Refine what you do.
Everyone can become better at the basics. That’s what every study skills course, website, seminar, class is ultimately going to teach you. There are a few limited, simple, basic, essential skills you need to be a truly successful student, no matter how intelligent or unintelligent you think you are.
Focus on the way rather than the what. You already know most of the “what.” Take action to refine and simplify those steps so that you make the most of your time. For help refining some of the ways you study, you’re in the right place. See our other study skills blogs for refining specific skills. A simple yet comprehensive resource is also our online online study skills courses. These resources are designed to help you simplify and refine your skills so you can make the most of your education.
What are the right study skills that have helped you?