Career & Education

Consistent effort, not cramming the night before exams, reaps rewards

Dr Karla
Hylton

Sunday, January 07, 2018

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The secret to academic success lies in how well our kids study. It has always been my opinion that one does not need to study harder or for longer hours. Instead, one needs to study smarter. It is a matter of quality rather than quantity. An hour or two a day is usually sufficient study time to achieve positive results. Consistent positive action towards the attainment of academic success creates momentum that will reap results.

All things can be achieved with hard work, dedication and consistency. There are no limits. To be consistent, one must fully dedicate oneself to completing a task on a regular basis. It is a habit that is cultivated and requires commitment.

Parents and students must accept that exam preparation begins on Day 1, and not a week before exams. While studying may be considered a necessary evil, it does not have to be a painful experience. Many kids find studying difficult because of ineffective study techniques. They may face challenges when it comes to developing a consistent study routine. Some kids will need greater supervision than others. You must know your child.

Tips to Encourage Consistency

• Create a study timetable

This is useful to most kids. It helps them to effectively manage and organise their time. It eliminates confusion and provides a clear action plan. A study timetable may also help to reduce procrastination.

• Do not cram

Do not allow your kids to cram for an exam. Pulling an all-nighter is a terrible idea. Trading sleep for study should never, ever be encouraged. Talk to kids about this. Explain how totally ineffective this technique of cramming is. It is counter- productive and is more likely to lead to additional academic problems.

Cramming may assist them to pass an exam, but it does not mean that they have learnt a concept. This concept is likely to be built upon in future classes. If your child does not understand the concept to begin with, then he/she will not be able to progress in the subject. When your child studies by cramming, the material is saved to short-term memory only, but learning involves long-term memory.

•Develop regular study habits

Encourage systematic study sessions of short duration. Reading over your notes for each subject twice or thrice a week consistently, is highly effective. This way children are well prepared to learn new concepts because they are building on old ones. Repetition keeps the neural connections firing in the brain. It is critical for recall.

Studying at the same time each day provides a routine which makes studying become part of daily life. If your child will be studying more than one subject, let him start with the subject that he deems more difficult. This subject will require the most effort and mental energy.

•Review effectively

When you learn something new, it is best to go over those points on the same day. Waiting a few days before review will make the information appear more unfamiliar and will be more difficult to assimilate. Ensure that your child reviews past assignments and tests and highlight his/her areas of weakness. This will cue him as to what topics he/she needs to focus on. Students who are studying the sciences must make time to practise their drawings in order to build their skill and confidence.

• Take Regular Breaks

Researchers have discovered evidence to support the view that taking regular breaks helps the learning process. I discourage long study sessions,and I believe they may actually do more harm than good. Personally, in all my years of learning, I have never studied for longer than 20 minutes at any one time and never for longer than a two-hour duration in one day. The key to my plan was that I was consistent. I have taught my children to study the same way and it has been very effective.

My best tip for you is to teach your child to study in short, efficient, powerful bursts. This could be 20 minutes at a time with 10-minute breaks. Your child will remember more, guaranteed.

Dr Karla Hylton is the author of Yes! You Can Help Your Child Achieve Academic Success and Complete Chemistry for Caribbean High Schools . She operates Bio & Chem Tutoring, which specialises in secondary level biology and chemistry. Reach her at (876) 564-1347, biochemtutor100@gmail.com or khylton.com.

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