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Procrastination

What is Procrastination?

Procrastination is putting off or avoiding doing something that must be done. It is natural to procrastinate occasionally. However, excessive procrastination can result in guilt feelings about not doing a task when it should be done. It can also cause anxiety since the task still needs to be done. Further, excessive procrastination can cause poor performance if the task is completed without sufficient time to do it well. In short, excessive procrastination can interfere with school and personal success.

Why Do Students Procrastinate?

There are many reasons why students procrastinate. Here are the most common reasons:

  1. Perfectionism. A student's standard of performance may be so high for a task that it does not seem possible to meet that standard.
  2. Fear of Failure. A student may lack confidence and fear that he/she will be unable to accomplish a task successfully.
  3. Confusion. A student may be unsure about how to start a task or how it should be completed.
  4. Task Difficulty. A student may lack the skills and abilities needed to accomplish a task.
  5. Poor Motivation. A student may have little or no interest in completing a task because he/she finds the task boring or lacking in relevance.
  6. Difficulty Concentrating. A student may have too many things around that distract him/her from doing a task.
  7. Task Unpleasantness. A student may dislike doing what a task requires.
  8. Lack of Priorities. A student may have little or no sense about which tasks are most important to do.

How Do I Know if I Procrastinate Excessively?

You procrastinate excessively if you agree with five or more of the following statements:

  1. I often put off starting a task I find difficult
  2. I often give up on a task as soon as I start to find it difficult.
  3. I often wonder why I should be doing a task.
  4. I often have difficulty getting started on a task.
  5. I often try to do so many tasks at once that I cannot do any of them.
  6. I often put off a task in which I have little or no interest.
  7. I often try to come up with reasons to do something other than a task I have to do.
  8. I often ignore a task when I am not certain about how to start it or complete it.
  9. I often start a task but stop before completing it.
  10. I often find myself thinking that if I ignore a task, it will go away.
  11. I often cannot decide which of a number of tasks I should complete first.
  12. I often find my mind wandering to things other that the task on which I am trying to work.

What Can I Do About Excessive Procrastination?

Here are some things you can do to control excessive procrastination.

  1. Motivate yourself to work on a task with thoughts such as "There is no time like the present," or "Nobody's perfect."
  2. Prioritize the tasks you have to do.
  3. Commit yourself to completing a task once started.
  4. Reward yourself whenever you complete a task.
  5. Work on tasks at the times you work best.
  6. Break large tasks into small manageable parts.
  7. Work on tasks as part of a study group.
  8. Get help from teachers and other students when you find a task difficult.
  9. Make a schedule of the tasks you have to do and stick to it.
  10. Eliminate distractions that interfere with working on tasks.
  11. Set reasonable standards that you can meet for a task.
  12. Take breaks when working on a task so that you do not wear down.
  13. Work on difficult and/or unpleasant tasks first.
  14. Work on a task you find easier after you complete a difficult task.
  15. Find a good place to work on tasks.

Above all, think positively and get going. Once you are into a task, you will probably find that it is more interesting than you thought it would be and not as difficult as you feared. You will feel increasingly relieved as you work toward its accomplishment and will come to look forward to the feeling of satisfaction you will experience when you have completed the task.

Motivating Yourself to Study

If you find that you lack motivation to study, welcome to the club. Just about every student experiences this problem at one time or another.

Motivation is important for good studying. When you are motivated, you will find it easy to stay focused over a period of time. When you are not motivated, you will not only find it difficult to stay focused, but you will find it difficult to get started in the first place.

Here are some ways to increase your motivation to study.

  1. Reward yourself for studying. For example, after a successful study session, have a treat like a nice big ice cream cone. Go crazy and add some cherries and nuts.
  2. Study with your friends. Don’t make it party time, but you can have fun as you do this.
  3. Remind yourself of your long-term goals. Achievement of your goals likely requires educational success. Educational success requires studying.
  4. Eliminate distractions. If you are surrounding by things you would rather do than study, you will probably do those things instead of studying.
  5. Develop interest in what you have to study. This will make studying more enjoyable.
  6. Take breaks. When you feel that you need to take a break, try to stop at a point where you are at something that is easy for you. This will make it easier for you to resume studying after your break.
  7. Establish a comfortable environment. You will be more inclined to study if you feel comfortable.
  8. Establish reasonable goals for a study session. You probably won’t get very far if you look at your study session as "mission impossible."
  9. Use a motivational poster. Place the poster where you can see it as you study. The poster should include positive words and a picture depicting success. You can buy one or even make your own. You can also read inspirational stories about real people who have achieved success through effort.
  10. Just do it. Once you do, you will feel a lot better than if you are worried about getting it done.

Finally, if these suggestions don’t do it for you, just think about the consequences of not studying.


Setting Goals

A goal is something you want to achieve. A short-term goal is something you want to achieve soon. Examples of short-term goals are finishing your homework and doing well on tomorrow's test. A long-term goal is something you want to achieve at some later date. Examples of long-term goals are writing a paper and passing a class.

To set appropriate goals, you must know what is important for you to accomplish. Then you must set specific and clearly stated goals. If you do not have clearly stated goals, your effort will lack direction and focus. Write your goals to have a record of them.

THE THREE W'S OF GOALS

Each goal you set should state WHAT you will do and WHEN you will accomplish it. Implied in each goal you set is your WILL (determination) to do it.

For example, a goal for a research paper might be stated as follows: I will (your determination) finish gathering information for my research paper (what you will do) by November 20 (when you will accomplish it).

CHARACTERISTICS OF APPROPRIATE GOALS

Your goals should be:

  1. within your skills and abilities. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses will help you set goals you can accomplish.
  2. realistic. Setting a goal to learn the spelling of three new words a day is realistic. Trying to learn the spelling of fifty new words a day is not realistic.
  3. flexible. Sometimes things will not go the way you anticipate and you may need to change your goal. Stay flexible so when you realize a change is necessary you will be ready to make the change.
  4. measurable. It is important to be able to measure your progress toward a goal. It is especially important to recognize when you have accomplished your goal and need to go no further. Failure to measure your progress toward a goal and recognize its accomplishment will result in effort that is misdirected and wasted.
  5. within your control. Other than when working as part of a group, accomplishment of your goal should not depend on other students. You can control what you do, but you have little or no control over what others do. You may do what you have to do, but if others don't, you will not accomplish your goal.

Using Acronyms to Remember Information

Forming an acronym is a good strategy to use to remember information in any order. An acronym is a word that is formed from the first letter of each fact to be remembered. It can be a real word or a nonsense word you are able to pronounce.

Here is how to form an acronym.
  • Write the facts you need to remember.
  • Underline the first letter of each fact. If there is more than one word in a fact, underline the first letter of only the first word in the fact.
  • Arrange the underlined letters to form an acronym that is a real word oranonsense word you can pronounce.

"HOMES" is an example of an acronym that is a real word you can use to remember the names of the five Great Lakes: Michigan, Erie, Superior, Ontario, Huron: In HOMES, H is the first letter of Huron and helps you remember that name; O is the first letter of Ontario, and so on.

"Telk" is an acronym that can be used to remember the following animals: tiger, lion, elephant, kangaroo. "Telk" is not a real word, but you can easily pronounce it.

Sometimes two or more of the facts you must remember each begin with the same first letter. For example, the acronym "capp" can be used to remember the following fruits: pear, apple, peach, cherry. You can use the first letter "p" in the acronym to remember either "pear" or "peach" and the second letter "p" to remember the other.

Use the acronym strategy as a way to remember information.

Math Study Skills

Math is a unique subject. It involves symbols, formulas, specific procedures, textbooks that look different, and many unique words and terms. Consequently, it is important to use study skills that apply particularly well to math. Here are some you should use.

  • You can't learn math just by reading and listening. Much of math learning involves actively doing. This means that you must do all of your math homework and assignments.
  • Math is a sequential subject. What is taught on a given day is based upon what was taught before. Once you fall behind, it is very difficult to catch up. Cramming at the last minute will not help you. Be certain to attend every class and keep up with your teacher.
  • Math is a difficult subject that becomes increasingly complex. You may have to spend more study time on this subject than on your other subjects.
  • Don't try to memorize your way through math. There are simply too many formulas and procedures. Try to master the key concepts. This will reduce the amount of information you will need to remember.
  • Once you learn a procedure for solving a problem, that same procedure can often be used to solve other problems. When presented with a new problem, try to apply your past learning to the new problem.
  • Learn the vocabulary of math. Often, a word used in math has a different meaning than that same word when used outside of math. For example, volume in math refers to the amount of space within a solid figure. Outside of math, volume can refer to a book or to loudness. Write new math words and terms and their math meanings in a special place in your notebook.
  • Math is a subject that makes many students very anxious. As simple as it sounds, having confidence in yourself can reduce your anxiety.
For more great study tips, check out the website:
How-to-Study.com provides valuable study skills resources for teachers, parents and students around the world.


Memory techniques

The article below is taken from http://www.academictips.org/memory/index.html.

It teaches numerous memorization techniques that you can use to help you remember all the facts in history, biology, physics etc. Below are some techniques that I have tried and found useful and effective.

1. Linking/Story Method

How to use

As an example, you may want to remember a list of counties in the South of England:

Avon, Dorset, Somerset, Cornwall, Wiltshire, Devon, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Surrey

This could be done with two approaches, the pure link method, and the story method:

The Link Method

This would rely on a series of images coding information:

  • An AVON (Avon) lady knocking on a heavy oak DOoR (Dorset).
  • The DOoR opens to show a beautiful SuMmER landscape with a SETting sun (Somerset).
  • The setting sun shines down onto a field of CORN (Cornwall).
  • The CORN is so dry it is beginning to WILT (Wiltshire).
  • The WILTing stalks slowly fall onto the tail of the sleeping DEVil (Devon).
  • On the DEVil's horn a woman has impailed a GLOSsy (Gloucestershire) HAM (Hampshire) when she hit him over the head with it.
  • Now the Devil feels SoRRY (Surrey) he bothered her.

The Story Method

Alternatively this information may be coded by vividly imaging the following scene:

An AVON lady is walking up a path towards a strange house. She is hot and sweating slightly in the heat of high SUMMER (Somerset). Beside the path someone has planted giant CORN in a WALL (Cornwall), but it's beginning to WILT (Wiltshire) in the heat. She knocks on the DOoR (Dorset), which is opened by the DEVil (Devon). In the background she can see a kitchen in which a servant is smearing honey on a HAM (Hampshire), making in GLOSsy (Gloucestershire) and gleam in bright sunlight streaming in through a window. Panicked by seeing the Devil, the Avon lady panics, screams 'SoRRY' (Surrey), and dashes back down the path.

Given the fluid structure of this mnemonic, it is important that the images stored in your mind are as vivid as possible, and that significant, coding images are much stronger that ones that merely support the flow of the story. See the section on using mnemonics more effectively for further information on making images as strong as possible.

2. The Journey Method (my fave)

How to Use the Journey Method

The journey method is based on using landmarks on a journey that you know well.

This journey could, for example, be your journey to work in the morning, the route you use to get to the front door when you get up in the morning, the route to visit your parents, or a tour around a holiday destination. It could even be a journey around the levels of a computer game. Once you are familiar with the technique you may be able to create imaginary journeys that fix in your mind, and apply these.

Preparing the Route

You can consider these landmarks as stops on the route. To remember a list of items, whether these are people, experiments, events or objects, all you need do is associate these things or representations of these things with the stops on your journey. 

(For me, I imagine the 10 landmarks in my house and I number them. For example, my living room sofa is number 1, my study table in my room is number 2, my storage area in my room is number 3, my altar is number 4 etc.)

Example

For example, I may want to remember something mundane like a shopping list:

Coffee, salad, vegetables, bread, kitchen paper, fish, chicken breasts, pork chops, soup, fruit, bath cleaner.

I may choose to associate this with my journey to the supermarket. My mnemonic images therefore appear as:

1.  Front door: spilt coffee grains on the doormat
2.  Rose bush in front garden: growing lettuce leaves and tomatoes 
    around the roses.
3.  Car: with potatoes, onions and cauliflower on the driver's seat.
4.  End of the road: an arch of French bread over the road
5.  Past garage: with sign wrapped in kitchen roll
6.  Under railway bridge: from which haddock and cod are dangling by 
    their tails.
7.  Traffic lights: chickens squawking and flapping on top of lights
8.  Past church: in front of which a pig is doing karate, breaking boards.
9.  Under office block: with a soup slick underneath: my car tyres send up 
    jets of tomato soup as I drive through it.
10. Past car park: with apples and oranges tumbling from the  top level.
11. Supermarket car park: a filthy bath is parked in the space next to my 
    car!

Extending the Technique

This is an extremely effective method of remembering long lists of information: with a sufficiently long journey you could, for example, remember elements on the periodic table, lists of Kings and Presidents, geographical information, or the order of cards in a shuffled pack of cards.

The system is extremely flexible also: all you need do to remember many items is to remember a longer journey with more landmarks. To remember a short list, only use part of the route!

One advantage of this technique is that you can use it to work both backwards and forwards, and start anywhere within the route to retrieve information.

3. Roman Room System

How to use 

Imagine a room that you know well: perhaps this is your sitting room, a bedroom, an office, or a classroom. Within this room there are features and objects in known positions. The basis of the Roman Room system is that things to be remembered are associated with these objects, so that by recalling the objects within the room all the associated objects can also be remembered. 

For example, I can imagine my sitting room as a basis for the technique. In my sitting room I can visualise the following objects:

table, lamp, sofa, large bookcase, small bookcase, CD rack, tape racks, stereo system, telephone, television, video, chair, mirror, black & white photographs, etc.

I may want to remember a list of World War I war poets:

Rupert Brooke, G.K. Chesterton, Walter de la Mare, Robert Graves, Rudyard Kipling, Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, W.B. Yates

I could visualise walking through my front door, which has a picture on it of a scene from the Battle of the Somme, with an image of a man sitting in a trench writing in a dirty exercise book.

I walk into the sitting room, and look at the table. On the top is RUPERT the Bear sitting in a small BROOK (we do not need to worry about where the water goes in our imagination!) This codes for Rupert Brooke.

Someone seems to have done some moving: a CHEST has been left on the sofa. Some jeans (Alphabet System: G=Jeans) are hanging out of one draw, and some cake has been left on the top (K=Cake). This codes for G K Chesterton.

The lamp has a small statuette of a brick WALl over which a female horse (MARE) is about to jumping. This codes for Walter de la Mare.

Expanding the Roman Room System

The technique can be expanded in one way, by going into more detail, and keying images to smaller objects. Alternatively you can open doors from the room you are using into other rooms, and use their objects to expand the volume of information stored. When you have more experience you may find that you can build extensions to your rooms in your imagination, and populate them with objects that would logically be there.

Using Mnemonics in Exams

Mindmaps: A very effective way of structuring information for revision is to draw up a full, colour coded of the subject. This will enable you to see the overall structure of the topic, and make associations between information. A good colour coded Mind Map can be an effective way of remembering information in its own right.

By using mnemonics, retrieving all the facts necessary to answer an exam essay question becomes as simple as running through the mnemonic in your mind, jotting down the retrieved facts that are relevant to the question. Once you have written these down, you can apply any sub-mnemonics you have coded, or jot down any associated facts and connections that occur to you. This should ensure that you have all possible information available to you, and should go a long way towards producing an essay plan.

Source: http://www.academictips.org/memory/index.html.




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