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Study skills sample essay

Studying is an act or a process, of applying one’s mind towards acquiring or increasing knowledge, skills or understanding. However there is no hard and fast rule towards successful learning. There is no single best way, as people study in different ways and have differing preferences as regards to means of learning. Some may find a particular strategy helpful, whereas others may not. For instance, some students are more visual and thus retain knowledge better, by using mind-maps. On the other hand, some people find taking-notes more helpful.

Nevertheless, there are certain skills that apply commonly to the vast majority and which have over the years proven to enhance learning capabilities. Some of the prominent skills include; planning, and organizing, effective reading, taking notes and writing skills. Planning Like any other important task, learning should start with a plan as it is crucial for success. A plan not only provides direction to the learning process, but at the same time provides a means of evaluation of performance against set targets.

Studying without a plan is like embarking on a journey without first looking at a map. And there is a high risk of student getting side tracked by less important tasks, failing to meet deadlines and even failing to achieve the main objectives behind learning. As the saying goes; “a failure to plan, is a plan towards failure”. An affective planning encompasses the following; Setting goals These are the objectives which the student intends to achieve from the learning process. For instance scoring an ‘A’ in mathematics.

And then breaking the overall goal into smaller targets like resolving confusions in problematic areas, reducing the error rate to zero, increasing speed in calculations etc. Analysis of current position This involves analyzing how much time is spent on routine actives, what part of the individuals day is best suited for study, the syllabus to be covered, the books to be read, the weak areas of the subject or the areas that require most attention and what means of learning does the individual find most helpful. Time allocation and scheduling This involves calculating the total time available for studies.

Continuing the above example this would be the number of days to the examinations date and the numbers of hours available for studies in a day. According to Naomi Rockler,”delaying work until last moment is one of the biggest mistakes many students make”(Rockler N. , 2008). Therefore a comprehensive study schedule must be developed to avoid such situations. This can be done by allocating the time available to different areas of the subject. Areas of confusion and areas crucial for success should be given higher priority. The schedule however should be realistic with sufficient time for relaxing.

According to Patrick T. Magee’s guide on enhancing studying skills,” students should take a 10 minute break after every 2 hours, and a 3 to 5 minute rest every 40 minutes of continuous study, because researches have proved that these mind breathers increase productivity and efficiency. ”(Magee P. , 1996) Strategy selection Strategy is a detailed plan of action to achieve the set targets. Having done the initial analysis and time allocation, the student will be in a better place to formulate the best strategy that achieves the learning objective.

Though planning is an important part of learning but it alone does not guarantee success. Therefore spending too much time in planning becomes counter productive. Execution and consistency in acting upon the plan is equally important. Reading skills Reading skills allow a reader to read something fluently and comprehensively, grasp the meaning of a given text, developing a cognitive interaction with the message, without depending on someone else. Broadly speaking, there are three reading styles that apply in different situations. 1. scanning This style is used where there is a specific focus.

For instance when searching for a name in a phone directory. The individual glances through pages search for terms or phrases relevant for the purpose. This style is useful in scanning segments of text to determine whether it is going to be useful. for example looking at the contents of a magazine to determine whether it contains the desired article. 2. skimming This technique is helpful in grasping the gist or the theme of a text. It is commonly used in reading through the newspaper, as people are interested in acquiring the main points and skipping details. 3. Detailed reading

This involves in-depth reading of the text with attention paid to every single word. The purpose of this technique is to extract accurate and detailed information out of the text. But before reading in detail, it is usually helpful to skim through it first, as that will provide an overview of what the text is all about. In order to develop effective reading skills one must ensure active involvement with the text . Because passive reading is merely a waste of time. Students must therefore “read to learn”. Moreover, practices that facilitate active reading include; • Underlining key terms and important parts of the text.

Individuals who are more visual may find different color highlight more effective • Writing down key words • Reading introduction or summary first to get an initial understanding about points of focus • Keeping a questioning mind while reading, as the mind is actively engaged in reading when it is searching for answers. Turning the headings into questions is a good way of achieving this. • Recalling on completion of each section, thinking back to the questions and trying to answer them. • Revising the whole text on completion by glance at the underlined parts and highlights.

Note-Taking Note-taking is another one of the most basic skills required for successful learning. It means recording key points with supporting details, which the student can refer back later. It is an effective of retaining a lecture or oral presentation. Note-taking can as well be applied to memorize main points from a written source.

From a written source Students should avoid taking notes during first reading of the text because that would tempt them to simply copy the text as it is, compromising their understanding. An effective practice of taking-notes in from a text involves; 1.reading through the material and creating an understanding of the text 2. spotting key ideas and important sub-points 3. paraphrasing the points into there own words, without looking at the book 4. noting down the paraphrased knowledge From a lecture or oral presentation An efficient way of taking-notes from a lecture involves;

1. attentive listening and spotting key points of the lecture 2. using concept maps to develop an understanding of the points 3. recalling the lecture, when its over, by speaking aloud and developing own examples 4. creating relationships with own knowledge or relevant past experiences.

“At universities, note-taking is a hegemonic study activity which, in many instances, is the primary reason for educational interface between students and teachers. ” (Castello, M. , Vol. 5, No. 3, p 265-285, 2005). Note-taking also proves helpful in professional life. For instance agendas discussed or issues raised at a meeting can be recalled by recording and reviewing minutes of the meeting. Writing skills The use of writing as means of enhancing students’ knowledge began in mid 1970’s in universities across US.

It is an active way of gaining knowledge.writing can be used to synthesize concepts, as well as, in exploring of new ideas and relating or making connections. Writing to learn is different from note-taking. Writing to learn activities may involve brainstorming or quick explanations, assessing writers knowledge or ability to answer a question.

“Writing on a wide range of subjects allows students to develop an effective tool for learning because cross curriculum-writing enhances there reading, writing and thinking capabilities. ”(Andrew T. , 2008) In conclusion there are several skills that development of which facilitates learning and increase academic achievement.

Some these skills as discuss above include planning, timing and organizing skills, reading skills, note-taking and writing skills. And the list is not exhaustive. However the key determinant of success depends on students themselves. Because knowing about the skills is wont make a difference unless honest efforts are made towards developing them.

And that requires practice, commitment and consistency. References Journal: Castello, M. , (2005). Students’ Note-Taking as a Knowledge-Construction Tool. L1-Educational Studies in Language and Literature, Vol. 5, p. 265-285. Online Magazine: Andrew, T. (2008). Writing Throughout School: Skills and Knowledge Improved by Cross-Curriculum Writing.

Retrieved January 29th, 2009, from http://teaching-strategies- mentorship. suite101. com/article. cfm/writing_throughout_school Rockler, M. (2008). How to Keep Up With a College Reading Load. Retrieved January 30th, 2009, from http://studyskills. suite101. com/article. cfm/how_to_keep_up_with_a_college_reading_load Online Article: Magee P. (1996). How to Improve Learning Skills. Retrieved January 29th, 2009, from http://braindance. com/bdilearn. htm.

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