Learning Tips from Terry Small
“Terry Small, B.Ed., M.A., is a master speaker, teacher, trainer, and learning skills specialist. He has presented his cutting-edge ideas on the brain and learning to over 100,000 people in schools, businesses, and organizations for 30 years…”
- Studies show that students who take notes while they read or listen perform significantly better on tests.
- Review your notes within 48 hours.
- Use “Smart Notes” – Use facing pages to take notes. On the right hand page take notes in class; later, on the left hand page, write questions based on the notes you’ve taken.
- Summarize – Leave space on your pages to summarize key points (the things you expect on an exam) when you review.
- Use a ring binder, not a notebook – Studies show that students who use ring binders perform better. This is because they can easily add quizzes, tests and other materials and organize for better review.
- Create a “Master Binder” – Carry all your notes in one binder that zips shut. That way you have everything you need with you and things don’t fall out and get lost. Archive pages in a home binder when the master binder gets too full.
- Save your notes – Notes from grade nine will be useful in grade 10.
- Stand up when you study.
- Write down questions as you read – It will help keep you focused and alert.
- When studying use cards to cover your notes while you try to answer questions.
- Study out loud – This activates the “auditory channel” in your brain and helps you recall more later on.
- Take breaks – Take your age and add two to get the number of minutes you should study before taking a two or three minute break to stretch or move about the house… but never to watch TV.
- Drink lots of water.
- Don’t eat sweets – Your digestive system will “borrow” blood from other parts of the body, including the brain, to break down the carbohydrates in sweets.
Your Study Space
- Keep it organized – You risk getting distracted or discouraged by the hunt for things you need if your study space isn’t organized.
- Turn the TV off.
- Turn off the MP3 player, too, unless you happen to be tuned in to Baroque music like Vivaldi or Bach, which helps concentration.
Tricks to Help You Remember
- Use “Memory and Mastery Cards” – Write questions on one side of the M&M index card and the answer on the other. Use the cards to test yourself or have a friend test you. Place the cards which you can’t answer correctly in a “retest” pile.
- Picture it – Humorous mind pictures can help you remember things.
- Teach others – One of the best ways of learning and remembering is by teaching others.
- Learn by Sevens – The human “memory span” is seven, so if you have 20 things to learn, break them up into groupings of six and seven.
- Acronyms – HOMES can prompt you to remember the names of the Great Lakes: Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior.
- Make up “Silly Sentences” – Another way to remember the Great Lakes might be “Help Open My Envelope Sarah”.
- Pick up on your teacher’s clues – When your teacher says “This is very important” or “Write this down” the material will likely be on a test. When you hear that, mark the material with a circled T.
- Make eye contact with your teacher.
- Participate in class by putting your hand up to ask or answer questions.
- Be there – If you do have to miss a class call a friend or have someone pick up your work.
- Sit at the front – It’s “where the action is”. Research shows that students who sit at the front perform better… by a full letter grade.
- Schedule your homework – Stick to a weekly time chart that has days of the week marked along the top, the hours from 7 AM to 11 PM down the side, and study blocks clearly marked in. Every Sunday determine when you are going to do you homework and plot it on the time chart.
- “Anywhere, anytime is study time” – Travel time, waiting in line… take your M&M cards with you so you can study just about anywhere.
- Start with your least favorite subjects, finish with your favorites.
- Use an agenda book.
- Preview material – If you don’t have any homework, get a jump on the next day’s work by reading ahead and even trying a few problems.
The Right Attitude
- Be focused and always do your best.
- Set realistic grade goals for each subject and write them down.
- Never give up. When people fail, it’s almost always because they gave up, not because they couldn’t succeed.
- Do more than asked.
- Remember that a paper done neatly in a word processing program will receive a higher mark than the same material that is untidily written by hand.
Get Ready For Tests
- Review tests and quizzes before a final exam – Tests and quizzes are “guideposts” to the final exam.
- Pay special attention to questions you got wrong. Correct them and ask why you got the answers wrong in the first place.
- Study with a partner – It’s more fun and you can think of things you wouldn’t have thought of alone, but don’t let your study time become social time.
- Ask your teacher what’s going to be on the test and what format the test will be in (preparing for an essay test is different than preparing for a multiple choice test). Be sure to know which pages and topics are going to be covered.
- Don’t cram – Spread your study sessions over several days and break them down to smaller blocks in each day.
- Sleep and eat well.
- Scan the whole test before you begin and budget time for each section.
- Read the questions and directions twice to be sure you’ve understood what’s expected.
- Do the questions you know first to be sure you don’t miss any “easy” marks.
- Don’t leave blank spaces – Even if you only know part of the answer, write it down. You may get partial marks.
- Proofread before you hand your test in.