5 General Study Techniques

“Whenever I played for (Franz) Richter, he looked immovably at my fingers, and one day he said, “My God, how I am obliged to torment myself and sweat, and yet without obtaining applause; and for you, my friend, it’s none play!” “Yes”, said I, “I had to labor once in order not to labor now.”


Just as Mozart learned how to play piano without great effort or strain, you can learn how to study so that it becomes almost second nature and as Mozart labored early in his life to acquire the fundamentals of music, you too will have to make an effort to learn the basic skills of effective study.


                This does not mean that you should start attending karate classes. In order to do well at school, you do not only need a positive mental- to be mentally fit, you also have to be reasonably healthy and physically fit. Study requires hard work. If you are not fit enough to put in the hours necessary for studying you will not to do well.

  You need to be reasonably careful with your diet, your sleep and keeping your body in shape. A healthy balanced diet contains generous amounts of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, and protein in the form of lean meat, fish or nuts. As much as possible, avoid eating junk foods. As the old saying goes, YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT.

         Your body is like a car battery which needs to be recharged regularly. Sleep is you means of recharging so make sure, you get plenty because when your body runs down, it is hard to get going- just like a car. If you are sensible about sleep, you will have plenty of energy, for school work and some left over for your leisure time.

Your body also needs regular exercise to keep it in working order so make exercise part of your daily routine. Try to balance study with exercise, just like you balance sleep and eating, activity with work and leisure.


                                A practical and convenient study area doesn’t have to be costly. The key elements are desk, chair, natural and artificial light, a comfortable temperature and a minimum distraction.


This photo is not mine 🙂

                As you will be spending plenty of time at your desk, a comfortable chair and a roomy table or desk should be a top priority. Try to establish a sitting position in which you are not hunched, slumped, or cramped, in a chair which gives some support to your back. Make sure that your work surface has space for you to lay out books and notepads without overlapping.

                Try to locate your desk or table in a place where you can work in the natural light from a window or ceiling skylight, and where there is also some sort of light, filter and protection for summer glare. If you will be studying at night, make sure that you have a good overhead light and a desk lamp.

                Do not locate your desk or table near your bed because the tendency is, you might fell asleep while studying. 🙂

                Fresh air is very important if you are working for long periods in a stuffy room, you will soon start to feel tired and lethargic. If possible, keep a window open, and each time you get up to have a break, open the doors. It is also hard to study if it is too hot or too cold so bear that in mind when controlling your fresh air supply.

                One of your biggest problem in studying will probably be distractions so, try to ensure that your study area is quiet and not surrounded by your favorite posters. Television, radio and records spell death to serous study. Some people can study with the radio playing quietly – others just THINK they can. It is best to keep the radio off, and save it for relaxation when your work is done. Keep all your gadgets or you may also ask someone, it could be your elder sister or brother to keep it for you so you would not be tempted in using it them while studying.

                If your house is too noisy and you have no study area of your own, try to find an alternative study area. Perhaps you could work in the school or public library.


                In classes which you want to improve your performance, it is generally a good idea to sit in the front of the classroom as near to the teacher as possible. This position will make you see and hear clearly what the teacher is saying with minimum distractions. If you find that you are distracted by friends in the classroom, then move away from them and just mix with them after class.

                When you are in class, you are not only involved in taking notes from the board; you will also have a chance to review them when your teacher talks about the work.

                Always pay attention to what the teacher is saying because most of the time, those are the important concepts that are included in the exam.


                One of the most common problems that students are experiencing is being disorganized and confused when they sit down to begin their homework. They may be unsure about what they have to do, when their assignment is due, what material they need to refer to, and exactly what the teacher expects.

                A homework diary can help to reduce these problems in two ways:

  1. by providing a complete and accurate record of assignments;
  2. by setting homework goals.

A good example of homework diary is one which shows exactly what is required. It includes all the relevant information you need to know when you sit down to study.

A good homework diary must have the following information:

  1. full details of assignments what particular aspects to pay attention to (the purpose of assignment)
  2. due date
  3. length (how many words/pages)
  4. any special books that are required

Daily homework goals state what you want to accomplish in a particular subject and directed to the assignment you have written in your homework diary.

There are the three basic ways in setting a daily homework goal. The kind of goal you select will depend on the type of assignment before you.

  1. “Amount of Work” Goal

            It spells out how much work you will accomplish in that subject. Sometimes, this will be equivalent to the amount of work assigned.

                For example, if you have 20 Math problems to do, or a chapter of a book to read, or amount of work would simply be (1) to finish all 20 Math problems and (2) complete reading the assigned chapters

  1. “Amount of Time” Goals

                Sometimes a daily work goal is easier to express as an amount of time you will spend working on a subject. This is especially true for long range assignments.

                For example, you may set 45 minutes of library research for an “amount of time” goal for an essay in History.

  1. “Standard” Goal

                                Your standard goal should be high and realistic. You should ALWAYS TRY TO PUT IN 100% EFFORT TO FINISH THE ASSIGNMENT.

Do not be a mindless robot when studying.


                                Most importantly, BEGIN DOING WHAT YOU WANT TO DO NOW AND STOP PROCRASTINATING!!!



                By the time you get to years 11 or 12, note taking will become an essential skill. Notes summarize important ideas and facts of what you have learned or heard in class.

                Taking notes helps you in achieving a firmer understanding of new material, and the way in which you organize and summarize your notes will help you to remember the material for a test or an exam. If you have a bad memory, make note taking your constant companion.

                There are three simple stages in taking good notes:

  1. Write down the main points.

                                The main point/s is/are the major organizing ideas or themes that the writer is attempting to convey. Main points are often stated in the initial key sentence of each paragraph or in the heading and sub-heading of a chapter.

  1. Write down examples to support or illustrate the main points.
  2. Summarize the main points.

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