What People Get Wrong About Studying: 5 Myths Busted!
According to Hollywood, you need the following to study:
- Big books, and lots of them
- A notebook, in which you take feverish notes and every once in a while rip out pages, ball them up, and throw them on the floor
- Highlighters, for feverish highlighting
- Coffee, ‘cause you’re staying up all night long
Think about any studying scene in the movies or TV. Even my beloved Hermione fits this mold. (When didn’t you see her in the library with a ton of books and a scroll full of notes?)
But so much of that image is not only not useful for studying, but actually really bad for studying. Trying to learn new information that night before a test (why else do you have so many books and are taking notes?) does not work. Lack of sleep will actually make you process more slowly. Seriously, keep the notebook and the highlighters, but dump everything else from that scene.
Studying is more than just reading the textbook or (heaven forbid ) re-reading the textbook. It’s actually a series of skills that start long before the actual studying. Long before. So, let’s dispel some of the biggest and baddest myths about studying.
What People Get Wrong About Studying: Myths About Studying
Studying comes naturally
One day a student came to me and said, “Ms. P, the teachers tell us to study. What does that even mean?” All those years, this poor kid had been told to go off and study, but no one had ever explained HOW to do it. She assumed something was wrong with her because she didn’t know what to do. 🙁
We aren’t born knowing how to study. You don’t just sit down one day and start studying. Studying, like multiplication or basketball, is a skill that must be taught. (And all too often, it’s not taught.) Yes, some people seem innately better at it than others, but they still have to learn the steps and practice, practice, practice.
One-size fits all strategies
“Well, if it works for Johnny, it must work for Jane.” No, just no. Study strategies are so personal. What works for me may not work for my brother, friend, neighbor, etc. There are a LOT of study strategies around. You need to try them out and figure out which ones work for you.
Rereading the textbook is key
I still see people recommending that students reread the textbook – and I cringe every time. Rereading the textbook is a waste of time. Instead, take notes while reading the first time. Then, review the notes, not the actual reading. That way, you focus on the most important information and save time in the process.
Studying takes hours and hours on a single day
Studying does take time, but you shouldn’t be studying for hours at a time or pulling an allnighter. If you create a study plan ahead of time, you can minimize the studying marathons. Instead, break the study sessions down over a longer period of time.
Also, your brain will thank you. You simply can’t maintain concentration for hours and hours. Trying to cram the night before the test is always a losing prospect.
Studying should be lonely
Most, but not all, Hollywood depictions of studying (Community excepted) show people studying all by their lonesomes, preferably in a dark room. While some people study better by themselves, studying in a group is a winning plan for many students. Study groups help you fill in your own knowledge gaps, keep up morale, and can provide structure.
Looking to improve your or your teen’s study skills? Download the FREE checklist below!