How to study better - school age

or see this page for study skills for further and higher education

Why your study strategies are ineffective:

We spend the first twenty years of our lives studying - but are never taught HOW TO STUDY. You are "taught" subjects the government feels it is important for you to learn, to make you a useful and productive member of adult society. Yet across the developed world few are taught how to be better learners!

At the bottom of this page you will find a link to download a pdf document that will show you how to study much better - in only 6 pages. No catches, no adverts, just free. Get it now if you wish, or read on. If you are reading this as a parent you can use the information to help your child learn better ways to study.

How we learn to study - and why it doesn't work

Basically, we mostly base the way we learn (and teach) on the processes used in school. Sadly, these processes are not effective at helping us learn. There are other priorities, such as managing discipline, showing governing bodies that the material has been "covered", or assessing our learning.

Classroom learning

Where: Sitting at a desk

Teacher talking, using blackboard, slides, handouts, book etc. Students making written notes in book.


Where: At home

Reading book, making notes, essays, answering questions etc.

Classroom issues

Students not engaged, no opportunity to review or reflect. Work all done by teacher. No rewards. No useful breaks.

Homework issues

Driven by demand; perceived as a chore. No immediate reward. Marked, handed back, forgotten.

How do YOU study?

Most likely you use ineffective techniques you used in school. Reading a book, making and re-writing or typing notes, listening or watching media. These strategies do not engage your brain and help you learn.

Why are these techniques wrong?

Mainly because they dont help you remember or assimilate the material. Remembering is a good start; but it isn't enough - we need to integrate the new information into our existing body of knowledge. In the attached document you will read about the "three R"s -
Read, Review, Reflect.

Rewards help you learn!

Your study techniques are not rewarding. We respond better if we are promptly rewarded for our efforts, especially if there is a more appealing alternative. Would you rather do homework, or play football outside? Where is the reward in handing in homework?
Providing PROMPT rewards will help develop a positive attitude towards study.

Improving your study skill set; Becoming a better learner.

Studying is a set of skills. You learn skills through practise - like riding a bicycle or playing an instrument. So reading the document won't make you a better student. You will need to read it to find out HOW to do better, then use and practise the skills and techniques described there. The good news - it wont take long to make a big difference.

The best way to use the document.

Read it. You may immediately identify things you are doing wrong, such as not taking effective breaks. Then pick ONE of the techniques that seems most useful to you, and try it. Not just once, these are skills that improve with use. If you feel its not beneficial or appropriate to your subject, try another.

Techniques described in the document:

  • How we remember - and why we mostly forget.
  • Preparation for study
  • Scheduled study, breaks and rewards
  • Review
  • Multi-sensory learning & mind maps

Taking notes

Much of your time at school college or university is spent taking notes using very old-fashioned and time consuming methods. There are better ways to do this, and I've been very impressed with this method developed by the learning strategies centre at Cornell University. It brings together many of the ideas described in my notes. The site also has useful information about other aspects of study.

I would not link off my own site if it wasnt valuable information! Here it is:

The Cornell Note-taking System