If your student has executive function challenges, cultivating a solid studying practice is so important. When studying becomes a part of their routine, they’ll be prepared not only for college (especially midterms and finals), but also the career path they choose to pursue. If studying or a consistent study routine are new concepts for your student, sitting down and focusing on preparing for a test can seem like a daunting task.
We’ve put together a list of helpful studying strategies to help your student prepare for any exams or endeavors that require focus and studying. These techniques will help them store new academic information in their long-term memory. They’ll be able to build on the new information, connect it to their personal learning and previously-covered academic content, and ultimately grow!
Create a Consistent Environment
When a student begins to develop a study routine, the environment should be similar to their test-taking setting. If they’re taking their next test at a desk, we highly recommend they study for the test at a desk or table. In addition to a consistent environment, make sure this academic routine is taking place at the same time each day. After a few months of studying in the same environment, your student’s productivity will increase phenomenally. This is when you can switch up the studying environment. Take them to the library, a quiet coffee shop, or even just switch to another area in your home. Before branching out to new locations, they need success with consistency, but once you reach that point, they’ll be able to study successfully in similar environments.
Practice “Active Studying”
Students are so busy with after school commitments, so getting the most out of their study sessions helps them to succeed academically while also pursuing their passions and interests. In order to help our students retain the most information while studying, we like to teach them how to practice “active studying.” Active studying requires interacting with the content and stopping to ask questions about the material. We want students to pause throughout their studying session to ask themselves questions such as:
- Why is this important?
- How can I associate this with information that I already know?
- How can I organize this information?
It may be helpful to write these questions on a sticky note to place near your student’s study spot.
By reflecting on these questions as they study, your student will avoid staring blankly at their assignment because they have to engage with the material. They’ll start to connect the material they’re learning with other academic content, strengthening neural pathways to help them retain more information.
One form of active studying we often work on implementing with our students is metacognition: the understanding and awareness of how one thinks. When practicing metacognition, students ask themselves questions about how they will remember material. So much research and anecdotal evidence highlights the power of metacognition in boosting long-term memory. When our students have the power to understand their own thinking, studying and learning happens quickly and information is transferred to long-term memory more efficiently. What does metacognition look like in practice? Just think, how will you remember this information?
For example: You need to memorize the vocab word malevolent. How do you accomplish this? I will remember malevolent because mal means bad in Spanish.
Repetition often comes to mind when talking about studying, and it’s an effective strategy to bring information into your student’s long-term memory. This is because repetition strengthens synapses (the connection between two neurons) and helps with retention and confidence of material knowledge!
Eat Well, Sleep Well, Move
Back to basics: overall health is critical when it comes to memory. If a student isn’t getting adequate nutrition, rest, and exercise, their long-term memory suffers. These elements are important to their studying success (in addition to their overall wellbeing).
If you have any questions about your student’s study routine, please reach out to your mentor!