It’s the last lap of the school year and now’s the perfect opportunity for you to bust out some secret study skills to help you get that target grade! Whether you’re on top of your study game or not sure where to start just yet, these 5 evergreen study tips will help you become a better learner and exam-taker, all tried and tested!
Don’t be a passive learner! If you are currently learning new content in class, make time before each lesson to read through the material. It’s okay if you don’t understand all of it (that’s what lessons are for), but what you can do is to Google some of the keywords and ask your family and friends for help.
You must be thinking, “Why should I spend time doing this when I can just learn everything in class?” Well, here’s one giant benefit to learning content in advance: it actually shortens the time you take to learn content! During the first reading of this new material, you are exposed to new information and your brain will actively try to make sense of it. This exercise encourages you to make connections between this new information and what you have learnt before, which in turn, helps you remember both sets of content better.
Furthermore, when your teacher goes through the material in class, you’re already at an advantage since you’ve had prior exposure to it. You’ll be able to ask better questions in class and solidify your understanding of the topic in just a short amount of time.
That leads us to the second point – apply what you have learnt as soon as you feel that you have understood it. Even if you’ve only grasped about 80% of the content, applying the knowledge by doing practice questions can help you identify what you don’t know. Only when you know what you don’t know can you seek out ways to do better in those areas.
If the towering bookshelves of assessment books at Popular scares you, don’t be intimidated! What you will need is a good mix of topical practice questions and exam papers for all-rounded coverage. You would want to switch up the practice materials that you use depending on where you are in your preparations for an exam.
Here is a general guideline. You should focus on working on topical practice questions immediately after concluding a chapter or theme in the syllabus. This helps to test your understanding on the subject matter and reinforce concepts that you already know. However, as you draw closer to an exam (say, Mid-Year Exam or End-of-Year Exam), you would want to start doing full practice papers at least a month before the exam. Practice exam papers put questions of different topics together and forces you to switch between thinking of one concept to another quickly and accurately. It is precisely this type of training that you will need to hone your exam-taking skills!
It might seem quite intuitive to shy away from the answer key, especially if you haven’t finished working all of the questions in a practice paper. But if you ever find yourself short of time before an exam, reading and highlighting the keywords in answer key is a simple life hack you can adopt! The model answers are usually structured in a way that best answers the questions, so learning how to structure your own answer the same way and using the keywords found in the model will help you score during the exam.
For essay-based papers or long-response questions, you can also use the model answer as a guide to figure out what to include and what not to when you are first starting to practise. Feel free to modify the model answer and include additional information or relevant examples as you deem fit. The possibilities are endless!
This point is pretty self-explanatory – don’t be afraid to reach out to people like your friends, family, teachers or even getting a private tutor to answer your queries! There is nothing to lose and everything to gain with setting up consultation sessions with teachers to go through parts of the material that you still can’t quite grasp after studying it multiple times, or to go through that extra tough practice paper.
After implementing points 1 to 3 in your study routine, you may find yourself with even more questions than when you started. But don’t be alarmed – questions are good! Being able to formulate questions that target the things you know that you don’t know is a huge skill that will benefit you all the way into your working life. You may find it helpful to jot questions down by the margins of your papers or textbooks while studying or use colourful post-it notes so you can easily find the questions again.
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Finally, many students often lament that with hectic CCA commitments and after school activities, it is tough to find the time and energy to do practice papers. One way to circumvent the time crunch is to find small pockets of time where you can do some small pieces of work. Alternatively, break up a large task into smaller, bite size pieces so that you can fit them into your pockets of free time!
Some of these pockets of time include your daily commute. As you make your way to school in the morning or back home in the evening, pull out an MCQ paper, which is designed to be done quickly (but accurately). Not only will this hone your time management skills due to the fact that you only have a set amount of time to complete the questions (so you don’t miss your stop), it is also a more productive use of your time on the bus/train than social media is.
If you’re studying more humanities-based subjects that have essay assignments, break down an essay into its constituent parts. Make an essay plan the night before and determine what points you need to have in it. While you’re on your commute, pull out a piece of paper or type in your phone’s notes app a paragraph or two of the essays. Doing practice questions on the commute encourages you to actively recall ideas without referring to your notes. Working in a relatively noisy environment also trains you to stay focused no matter what, which will come in handy when you have to sit for an exam.
After reviewing all the tips given above, which one will you most likely implement in your study routine?
Remember, the earlier you put these tips and tricks into practice, the more you’ll stand to benefit, especially when it comes closer to the exams! Pro-tip: bookmark this page now so that you can use this as an evaluation checklist from time to time to see if you have successfully incorporated these habits into your daily life.
By writing this article, FamilyTutor as a leading private tuition agency in Singapore suggest that you follow these five tips to be successful in your school.
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