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Improving Your Child's Study Skills

Improving Your Child's Study Skills to become college ready

In addition to the excitement of meeting new people and experiencing a new environment, your child will also have to face greater academic responsibility in college. Pass along the following time-management tips and note-taking advice. If your child learns to manage time properly and work more efficiently, the result can be better grades and more free time. It'll pay off now and later in college.

Plan Your Study Time

First, take a look at your study time. How often do you study? When do you do it? How much time do you spend at it? If you know you're not making the most of your free time, spend a few weeks logging all daily plans and activities. On one chart, list how you intend to use every hour of every day. On the other chart, record what you actually did. It can be a rude awakening to realize how much time is mismanaged. Work out a compromise schedule to recoup these little bits of lost time.

Spend Your Time Wisely

Numerous studies have shown that you get the most of a subject during the first hour of study. In each successive half-hour, your learning curve deteriorates geometrically. An extra four or five hours studying the same thing produces almost no results. To get the most of your study time, take a short break when you feel yourself flagging, and hit a different subject when you come back.

Take Great Notes in Class

Many students either try to take too many notes and write down everything, or else they think it's common sense, don't write it down and then can't recall it later. If instructors write something on the board or repeat a fact, it's probably worth jotting down. Learn your teachers' body language. Do they employ certain gestures or assume certain postures when closing in on a big point? Listen for telltale inflections and phrases: "the fundamental reason," "a critical role," "the important factor," etc.

Use Your Notes for Test Success

Use headings and subheadings to preview what you'll be reading, and write a summary of what you read. If you can distill 20 pages of reading into three pages of notes, you can easily carry them around to study at any time. As you approach a test, concentrate on reducing your three-page summaries to one page each. Every time you go through this exercise, you're packing things away in long-term memory, so by the day of the exam, you just need to review the things on which you're shakiest.

Comprehend What You Read

"Highlighters delay learning" is a theory held by a number of study-skills experts. Experts say that when you're skimming a college textbook and marking up long passages with fluorescent ink, you're subconsciously telling yourself, "Oh, yeah, that's important, I'll concentrate on it later." It's a better strategy to annotate the margins of the book with a pencil. Writing down your observations and questions reinforces your comprehension of what you've read and shows you where your understanding breaks down.

In fact, all students will benefit from improving their study skills. The end results can be long-term learning and great grades to boot!

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