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Two Strategic Study Skills for Back to School by Roger Lewis Fischel

Two Strategic Study Skills for Back to School by
Article Posted: 08/18/2017
Article Views: 201
Articles Written: 25
Word Count: 853
Article Votes: 0
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Two Strategic Study Skills for Back to School

Yes it is that time once again, back to school. As students return to school they are making resolutions to do better this year. The problem remains that if they use the same old study tactics the results remain the same. In this brief article I will touch on two of the most important strategic study skills I know of to move you to the next level. First, I discuss a proven way to enhance your memory, both short and long term. Then I discuss teacher (and student) expectations and how to figure them out.

Creating Mnemonics

Mnemonics, a fancy name for memory games, is a method for remembering both simple and difficult ideas. The idea is simple, create a known association with what you are trying to learn. Some associations are even taught to students. Roy G. Biv, the memory game for the colors of a rainbow, is a part of science as early as 4th grade. Who could forget red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. For the most part, teachers teach this mnemonic to children. It is not an association created by the student. One thing is certain, to be effective the student must create the association. There are many ways of doing this. If, for example, one is trying to recall information in a list, one may create an ordinal visual association. Begin with creating a number rhyming association. One-fun, two-blue, three-tree and so on. So for 'one' visualize something fun. For me driving an open-wheel race care on a technical road track is fun. I then visualize driving with what I want to remember covering the speedometer. For 'two' visualize something blue. My personal 'blue' is the 'W' against a white background indicating a Cubs win. I see that flag flying over Wrigley Field on a flagpole representing what I want to remember. This is a simple, yet, effective tool for recalling ordinal lists of information. These devices work because they tend to use more brain power because they use both visual and linguistic connections. By using more of your brain for the same memory task you increase your ability to remember. Mnemonics works for a very large segment of the population. But, like any of the study skills, it will not work for everyone. My advice is quite basic. Try it. Be creative in creating your associations. Test yourself to see if this is a skill you can use effectively. If you can, fantastic. Add it to your bag of tricks. If not, you learned that this one doesn't work for you and you may safely abandon it.


Who would have imagined that expectations, having the tools to uncover teacher expectations and to determine one's own is one of the important study skills. Teacher expectations are generally easy to figure out. Often teachers will say things like, "This is important," or "This will be on the test." Those are direct clues to what the teacher thinks is important. These clues should be emphasized in your notes so when studying they pop out. If you think you'll be struggling in a class it is a good idea to talk to your teacher asking what they expect of you in this class. You may also wish to speak to other students who have gone before you to find out what their experience has been. But teacher expectations are only a part of the picture. I have always believed that when I take a class, whether it is a requirement or an elective, I come to the class with learning expectations of my own. I often find that if I have my own expectations they often dovetail into the teacher's. It makes things much easier if my expectations are aligned with my teacher. Even when they are not, I find my expectations are more demanding than that of my teachers. That is, of course, the key to success. Set your personal expectations higher than what is expected by others. In that way, it is most likely that you'll achieve success.

Some Last Thoughts

Why put the idea of mnemonics and expectations in a group of study skills? The answer is simple. Not all study skills mean you must be bent over a book. The simple truth is that some study skills are strategic in nature. They serve as preparation for study as well as a path for attacking what you study. Having a powerful strategic approach is as important as what you study. Without the strategy, however, the underlying task quickly becomes overwhelming. Think about incorporating these two ideas into your study skills arsenal. You'll be more than glad you did.

Dr. Roger Lewis is the owner of Effective Study Tips where he introduces parents and their children to the most effective study habits we know of. Dr. Lewis is a career educator teaching in both middle-school settings and in university departments of education. His specialty is in the teaching of reading methods for k-12 students. He is now retired concentrating on sharing his knowledge with a broader audience.

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