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Pembroke School Ysgol Penfro Study Skills Handbook

December 2011


Improving Concentration Many students have difficulty concentrating while studying. Being able to concentrate while you are studying is essential to doing well in class and on tests. Here are 10 suggestions for improving your study concentration: •

Study in a quiet place that is free from distractions and interruptions. Try to create a space designated solely for studying.

Make a study schedule that shows what tasks you need to accomplish and when you plan to accomplish each task. This will provide you with the structure you need for effective studying.

Try to study at the time of day you work best. Some people work well early in the morning, others late at night. You know what works best for you.

Make sure you are not tired and/or hungry when you study. Otherwise, you won't have the energy you need to concentrate. Also, maintain your physical fitness.

Don't try to do two tasks at the same time. You won't be able to concentrate on either one very well. Concentration means focusing on one thing to the exclusion of all else.

Break large tasks into series of smaller tasks that you can complete one at a time. If you try to complete a large task all at once, you may feel overwhelmed and will be unable to maintain your concentration.

Relax. It's hard to concentrate when you're tense. It's important to relax when working on a task that requires concentration. Meditation is helpful to many students.

Clear your mind of worrisome thoughts. Mental poise is important for concentration. You can get distracted by your own thoughts. Monitor your thoughts and prevent yourself from following any that take you off track. Don't daydream.

Develop an interest in what you are studying. Try to relate what you are studying to you own life to make it as meaningful as possible. This can motivate yourself to concentrate.

Take breaks whenever you feel fatigued. There is no set formula for when to take breaks. You will know when you need to take a break.

Studying without concentration is like trying to fill a bucket with water when the bucket has a hole in its bottom. It doesn't work.


The Ten Study Habits of Successful Students Successful students have good study habits. They apply these habits to all of their classes. Read about each study habit. Work to develop any study habit you do not have. Successful students: 1. Try not to do too much studying at one time. If you try to do too much studying at one time, you will tire and your studying will not be very effective. Space the work you have to do over shorter periods of time. Taking short breaks will restore your mental energy. 2. Plan specific times for studying. Study time is any time you are doing something related to schoolwork. It can be completing assigned reading, working on a paper or project, or studying for a test. Schedule specific times throughout the week for your study time. 3. Try to study at the same times each day. Studying at the same times each day establishes a routine that becomes a regular part of your life, just like sleeping and eating. When a scheduled study time comes up during the day, you will be mentally prepared to begin studying. 4. Set specific goals for their study times. Goals will help you stay focused and monitor your progress. Simply sitting down to study has little value. You must be very clear about what you want to accomplish during your study times. 5. Start studying when planned. You may delay starting your studying because you don't like an assignment or think it is too hard. A delay in studying is called "procrastination." If you procrastinate for any reason, you will find it difficult to get everything done when you need to. You may rush to make up the time you wasted getting started, resulting in careless work and errors. 6. Work on the assignment they find most difficult first. Your most difficult assignment will require the most effort. Start with your most difficult assignment since this is when you have the most mental energy.


7. Review their notes before beginning an assignment. Reviewing your notes can help you make sure you are doing an assignment correctly. Also, your notes may include information that will help you complete an assignment. 8. Tell their friends not to call them during their study times. Two study problems can occur if your friends call you during your study times. First, your work is interrupted. It is not that easy to get back to what you were doing. Second, your friends may talk about things that will distract you from what you need to do. Here's a simple idea - turn off your cell phone during your study times. 9. Call another student when they have difficulty with an assignment. This is a case where "two heads may be better than one." 10. Review their schoolwork over the weekend. Yes, weekends should be fun time. But there is also time to do some review. This will help you be ready to go on Monday morning when another school week begins. These ten study habits can help you throughout your education. Make sure they are your study habits.

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.

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. Many times your parents, teachers, and counselors will set goals for you. Be accepting when they do. These are people who know what is important for you and are very concerned with your success. They can also help you accomplish the goals they set. SET GOALS IN SCHOOL THAT PROVIDE YOU WITH DIRECTION AND LEAD TO SUCCESS.

Study Groups A study group can be helpful when you are trying to learn information and concepts and preparing for class discussions and tests. Read to learn about the benefits of a study group. Then read on to learn about how to start a study group and the characteristics of a successful study group. Finally, be sure to read about the possible pitfalls of a study group. Benefits of a Study Group A study group can be beneficial in many ways. Here are the most important benefits: 1.

A support group can "pick you up" when you find that your motivation to study is slipping. The other group members can be a source of encouragement.

2.

You may be reluctant to ask a question in class. You will find it easier to do so in a small study group.

3.

You may become more committed to study because the group members are depending on your presentation and participation. You will not want to let them down.

4.

Group members will listen and discuss information and concepts during the study sessions. These activities add a strong auditory dimension to your learning experience.


5.

One or more group members are likely to understand something you do not. They may bring up ideas you never considered.

6.

You can learn valuable new study habits from the other group members.

7.

You can compare your class notes with those of the other group members to clarify your notes and fill in any gaps.

8.

Teaching/explaining information and concepts to the other group members will help you reinforce your mastery of the information and concepts.

9.

Let's face it - studying can sometimes be boring. Interacting with the other group members can make studying enjoyable.

Getting a Study Group Started Study groups don't just happen. Here is what you should do to get a study group started: 1.

Get to know your classmates by talking with them before class, during breaks, and after class. When selecting a classmate to join your study group, you should be able to answer YES for each of the following questions: o

Is this classmate motivated to do well?

o

Does this classmate understand the subject matter?

o

Is this classmate dependable?

o

Would this classmate be tolerant of the ideas of others?

o

Would you like to work with this classmate?

2.

Invite enough of these classmates to work with you in a study group until you have formed a group of three to five. A larger group may allow some members to avoid responsibility, may lead to cliques, and may make group management more of an issue than learning.

3.

Decide how often and for how long you will meet. Meeting two or three times a week is probably best. If you plan a long study session, make sure you include time for breaks. A study session of about 60 to 90 minutes is usually best.

4.

Decide where you will meet. Select a meeting place that is available and is free from distractions. An empty classroom or a group study room in the library are possibilities.

5.

Decide on the goals of the study group. Goals can include comparing and updating notes, discussing readings, and preparing for exams.

6.

Decide who the leader will be for the first study session. Also decide whether it will be the same person each session or whether there will be a rotating leader. The leader of a study session should be responsible for meeting the goals of that study session.


7.

Clearly decide the agenda for the first study session and the responsibilities of each group member for that session.

8.

Develop a list of all group members that includes their names, telephone numbers, and email addresses. Make sure each group member has this list and update the list as needed.

Characteristics of a Successful Study Group Once started, a study group should possess the following characteristics to be successful: 1.

Each group member contributes to discussions.

2.

Group members actively listen to each other without interrupting. Only one group member speaks at a time.

3.

The other group members work collaboratively to resolve any concern raised by a group member.

4.

Group members are prompt and come prepared to work.

5.

The group stays on task with respect to its agenda.

6.

Group members show respect for each other.

7.

Group members feel free to criticize each other but keep their criticisms constructive. This can encourage group members to reveal their weaknesses so that they can strengthen them.

8.

Group members feel free to ask questions of each other.

9.

At the end of each study session, an agenda including specific group member responsibilities is prepared for the next session.

10.

Above all, the positive attitude that "we can do this together" is maintained.

Possible Pitfalls of a Study Group A study group can be a very positive learning experience. However, there are pitfalls to be avoided. Here are some cautions: 1.

Do not let the study group get distracted from its agenda and goals.

2.

Do not let the study group become a social group. You can always socialize at other times.

3.

Do not allow group members to attend unprepared. To stay in the group, members should be required to do their fair share.

4.

Do not the let the session become a negative forum for complaining about teachers and courses.

5.

Do not allow one or two group members to dominate the group. It is important that all members have an equal opportunity to participate.

The information you just read will help you decide when a study group is appropriate for you and will help ensure its success.


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.


The DETER Strategy for Taking Tests To do well on a test, you must have good knowledge of the information that is being tested. But you must also have a strategy for taking the test that allows you to show what you know. The DETER strategy can help you do your best on any test. Each letter in DETER reminds you what to do. D = Directions •

Read the test directions very carefully.

Ask your teacher to explain anything about the test directions you do not understand

Only by following the directions can you achieve a good score on the test.

If you do not follow the directions, you will not be able to demonstrate what you know.

E = Examine •

Examine the entire test to see how much you have to do.

Only by knowing the entire task can you break it down into parts that become manageable for you.

T = Time •

Once you have examined the entire test, decide how much time you will spend on each item.

If there are different points for items, plan to spend the most time on the items that count for the most points.

Planning your time is especially important for essay tests where you must avoid spending so much time on one item that you have little time left for other test items.

E = Easiest •

The second E in DETER reminds you to answer the items you find easiest first.

If you get stuck on a difficult item that comes up early in the test, you may not get to answer items that test things you know.

R = Review •

If you have planned your time correctly, you will have time to review your answers and make them as complete and accurate as possible.

Also make sure to review the test directions to be certain you have answered all items required.

Using the DETER strategy will help you do better on tests and get better grades.


Direction Words In Essay Test Items Most essay test items are not presented in the form of a question. Instead, they are often presented as a statement that includes a direction word. The direction word tells you what you should do when you write your answer to the item. Look for the direction word and be sure to do what it tells you to do. Here are the direction words that are most frequently used by teachers when they write essay test items. The meaning of each direction word is provided and is followed by an example of an essay test item using that direction word. Get to know what each of these direction words tells you to do. •

Analyze - Analyze tells you to break something down into its parts and show how the parts relate to each other to make the whole. Analyze the factors that contribute to good health.

Compare - Compare tells you to show how two or more things are BOTH similar and different. Compare the forms of government found in the United States and in China.

Contrast - Contrast tells you to show how two or more things are different. Contrast the Republican and Democratic political platforms.

Define - Define tells you to explain the meaning of something in a brief, specific manner. Define what is meant by "living life to the fullest."

Describe - Describe tells you to present a full and detailed picture of something in words to include important characteristics and qualities. Describe what it was like to live in ancient Rome.

Diagram - Diagram tells you to illustrate something by drawing a picture of it and labeling its parts. Diagram a modern commercial jet airplane.

Evaluate - Evaluate tells you to present both the positive and negative characteristics of something. Evaluate the impact of rap music on American youth.

Explain - Explain tells you to provide facts and reasons to make something clear and understandable. Explain why the American Civil War occurred.


Justify - Justify tells you to provide reasons and facts in support of something. Justify the need for the federal income tax.

List - List tells you to present information about something as a series of brief numbered points. List the ingredients needed to bake bread.

Outline - Outline tells you to present the most important information about something in a carefully organized manner. Outline what it takes to be successful in school.

Summarize - Summarize tells you to present the main points about something in a brief form. Summarize how Thomas Edison's inventions have made our lives better.

Trace - Trace tells you to present the order in which something occurred. Trace the major events that led to America's Declaration of Independence.

Recognizing these direction words and knowing what they tell you to do will help you do well when taking an essay test.


Left Brain Right Brain Preference Look at the statements below, Every time you read a description or characteristic that applies to you, circle the number or highlight it. There is no certain number of characteristics you must choose. After you are done, look at the key. Next to every number you have highlighted or circled, write whether it was an L or an R. Count up the number of Ls and Rs. Whichever number is higher represents your dominance. If the numbers are close, that means you use both sides of your brain equally. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

I constantly look at the clock or wear a watch I keep a journal or diary of my thoughts I believe there is a right or wrong way to do everything I find it hard to follow directions precisely The expression “Life is just a bowl of cherries” makes no sense to me I frequently change my plans and find that sticking to a schedule is boring I think it’s easier to draw a map than tell someone how to get somewhere To find a lost item, I try to picture it in my head and where I last saw it I frequently let my emotions guide me I learn maths with ease People tell me that I’m always late getting places I’d read the directions before assembling something People have told me that I’m psychic I need to set goals for myself to keep me on track When somebody asks me a question, I turn my head to the left If I have a tough decision to make, I write down the pros and cons I’d probably make a good detective I learn music with ease To solve a problem, I think of similar problems I have solved in the past I use a lot of gestures When somebody asks me a question, I turn my head to the right I believe that there are two ways to look at almost everything I have the ability to tell if people are lying or guilty of something, just by looking at them I keep a ‘to do list’ I am able to thoroughly explain my options in words In a debate, I am objective and look at the facts before forming an opinion I’ve considered becoming a poet, politician, an architect or a dancer I always lose track of time When trying to remember a name I forgot, I’d recite the alphabet until I remembered it I like to draw When I’m confused, I usually go with my gut instinct I have considered becoming a lawyer, journalist or doctor.

9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24

25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32


Results 1L 2L 3L 4R 5L 6R 7R 8L

9 R 10 L 11 L 12 R 13 R 14 L 15 R 16 L

17 L 18 R 19 R 20 R 21 L 22 R 23 R 24 L

25 L 26 L 27 R 28 R 29 L 30 R 31 R 32 L

Left Brain Right Brain Dr Roger Sperry carried out research on patients who had had parts of their Corpus Callosum cut. He discovered that each hemisphere of the brain had specific differences. Left Brain

Right Brain

Language Mathematics Logic Analytic Sequence Processing Objective

Image Visualization Spiritual Awareness Imagination Intuition Holistic Subjective

Learning Type Characteristics Left Brain (Analytic) Successive Hemispheric Style Verbal Responding to word meaning Sequential Process information linearly Responds to logic Plans ahead Recalls people’s names Speaks with few gestures Prefers formal study design Prefers bright light when studying

Right Brain (Global) Simultaneous Hemispheric Style Visual Responds to tone of voice Random Process information in a varied order Responds to emotion Impulsive Recalls people’s faces Gestures when speaking Prefers background music when studying Prefers frequent mobility while studying


What do you know about Higher Education?


Day in the life of a student Name:

Name:

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Presentation • • •

In a group decide on a team, group or an individual person who inspires you. List the reasons for your choice in the ideas box In your groups prepare a short presentation on your choice of group, team or individual. Be as creative as possible. You have 30 minutes to complete this task. You can use: Posters Props Poems Songs Role play Script

Be as adventurous as you want. At the end of the session, you will present your work to the rest of the group.

Ideas box


Study Skills Handbook  

Pembroke School Study Skills Handbook

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