When I was preparing for the SATs in high school, my math teacher told me that there were four basic skills essential to doing well on any standardized test.
I was able to raise my score significantly just by focusing on these four study skills. When I began studying for exams in college, I applied the same principle and found it equally effective.
In my experience, these four skills apply no matter what you are studying or if you are preparing for a test. In this article, I’ll explain what the four study skills are and how to use them in your studies.
What Are The 4 Study Skills?
While there may be many different approaches to studying, some more effective than others, there are four specific study skills that I have found to be used by everyone – the best students in the world included. These are not necessarily difficult skills to master, but they can be easy to forget when you are using more complicated studying techniques.
The 4 Skills You Should Be Using
1) Skimming and scanning
3) Testing yourself
4) Making connections
1) Skimming and Scanning
Many students assume they should read everything seven times to make sure they understand it fully. Unfortunately, this method won’t help you improve your score on most tests. The most effective way to study is to use a combination of reading and skimming the material.
To skim a text, quickly go over it looking for key words or phrases that stand out to you. If you see something that catches your attention, then stop and read carefully to make sure you understand it fully. This might take one minute or less in some cases and five minutes in others.
When you are studying textbooks and informational material, it is almost always better to scan first and then read later. I’ve seen students waste hours just rereading a textbook trying to understand one chapter that might take ten minutes to skim and comprehend if they had just gotten the main ideas from the beginning.
Once you have skimmed or scanned the material, go back and start taking notes. There are two types of notes that you should take – general and specific.
General notes are just short phrases about what you read – they’ll act as an outline for what you will write in your own words later.
Specific notes expand on your general notes by explaining concepts more in depth and providing examples.
3) Testing Yourself
If you only remember the material long enough to write it down on a sheet of paper, then you won’t be retaining it for very long – if at all. The best way to help yourself retain information is by testing yourself.
Take practice quizzes or ask friends and family members to provide you with practice tests. You can also take advantage of free online resources like Khan Academy to help you study for your exams.
4) Making Connections
Finally, don’t forget to make connections between what you are studying and things that happened in the past or ideas that you have learned about before. Many students overlook this step because it doesn’t appear to be “practical” or necessary for the test.
However, I’ve noticed that doing this actually helps me remember what I am studying. If you aren’t making connections between your studies and real life, then it will be much more difficult to recall information on exams – especially if you are nervous or anxious about them.
If you can remember these four study skills, especially as a college student, then you’ll find it easier to improve your grades and score significantly on tests.