Back to school tips for students of all ages

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There are some surprising new studies that may change the way we look at studying. CEO Ashish Rangnekar of BenchPrep says we have to look at studying in a new light because new research from places like the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that many popular study habits are not beneficial at all and, in some cases, are actually detrimental. To get ahead check out the following:

Six Bad Study Habits Students Should Change Immediately

1. Studying at home: Studying at home seems convenient and easy, but there are way too many distractions there. Maybe it’s a talkative roommate, the TV, texts and Facebook, or the growing pile of clothes to be washed. Any of these can break concentration or give you a reason to procrastinate. Consider going to the library and finding a quiet room or desk away from all of these diversions.

2. Procrastinating: Every student is guilty of procrastination at one time or another, but that doesn’t mean it’s acceptable. Procrastination can lead to doing things halfway and not retaining as much information as necessary to finish projects or to ace, much less pass, that important exam. If a student is a regular procrastinator, then it is time to work on time-management skills and ways to schedule earlier, and calmer, study sessions.

3. Listening to music: The benefits of listening to music while studying are now questioned. Classical music was believed to increase spatial abilities and improve learning but research can’t support this theory. In fact, recent studies show that music may actually impair cognitive abilities and hinder memorization because of the changing words and notes in songs. Studying in silence or amid a little white noise will not distract from thinking and can help a student concentrate easier.

4. Not making an outline: If a student is not making outlines while studying or writing a paper, then the results most likely will not be the intended grade. An outline helps to keep track of large amounts of information, organize ideas and present the class material in a logical way.

5. Highlighting the textbook: Some advice may recommend reading a textbook and marking the pages with a neon highlighter as a way to study for an upcoming exam, but, in reality, this is one of the least effective ways for students to absorb content. Instead, students should quiz themselves on what they just read. This will help to retain more information and score higher on exams.

6. Pulling all-nighters: Everyone has done this at one time or another, but staying up all night cramming for an exam has been shown to be harmful for test preparation and performance. Becoming a zombie doesn’t help at all. The best way to avoid pulling all-nighters is to study ahead of time. Reread the section above on procrastination. Students need to dedicate a few days a week (or more) to study and review the material to avoid trying to cram everything into that brain in one night.

So, how can a student make their study habits more effective?

Six Good Study Habits for Academic Success

1. Pay attention to study location:  Find a quiet, uncluttered, distraction-free area away from home. Different spots may work for different subjects. When doing research, look for Wi-Fi hotspots that can give easy access to secondary information sources or help explain textbook concepts. But remember; keep away from the Facebook page or chat room. Fewer distractions mean less stress and that will make a big difference.

2. Vary study topics: Psychologists say alternating study topics rather than cramming on a specific one in a single session leaves a deeper impression on the brain. So, don’t grind on the same subject all night. Change it up, take breaks and re-visit the material in intervals. This has been proven to enhance retention.

3. Make information meaningful: Whether it’s creating rhymes or patterns, or even relating material to something else (i.e. through word or scenario associations), these tactics can make information more meaningful and will enhance information recollection. The University of Maryland reports that mnemonic devices, or memory tricks, are particularly useful for remembering factual information like names, dates, formulas or other information that requires rote memorization.

4. Tap online resources: Don’t get stuck on a problem or resigned to an ill-fated grade in a difficult class as there are powerful resources at a student’s fingertips. For example, companies like Academic Earth offer a comprehensive online collection of free video tutorials for college courses – all accessible at no cost. OpenStudy enables internet users to readily connect and engage with other students who are learning the same subjects at the same time – regardless of school, expertise or location – facilitating online, on-demand peer-to-peer assistance, support and other helpful interactions.

5. Engage in social learning: Research has found that there is a benefit to studying with friends.  In one recent study from the Jacobs School of Engineering at the University of California San Diego, it was revealed that “the higher the volume of interaction, the more likely the students were willing to exchange information in more complex ways and with greater frequency, forming ‘information cascades,’ a mechanism that spreads information from a single source to one or multiple sources.”

6. Have a great study attitude: Think positive and focus on skills. Rather than dreading the experience, thinking positive will make the time to study easier to approach. In fact, “study attitude” was identified in research as one of four pillars that “play a critical and central role in determining students’ academic performance.” In short, study time is a friend. Regard it that way and, soon enough, any student can look forward to a productive, self-fulfilled academic experience.

“Ultimately, students should identify their own study preferences – what works for them on a consistent basis – and act accordingly,” Rangnekar notes. “For example, some students study better in the morning or can better focus in smaller chunks of time rather than a marathon session. Knowing exactly what does and does not work on a personal level and then proactively creating a study plan and schedule around the proven effective methods, is the most powerful study tool of all.”

Daily Planner

I bought one for my oldest son when he went to school. I had the teachers enter times and dates of his classes, upcoming tests and homework. His teachers would initial it and indicate what classes he attended, if there was a test coming up and what was taught. This made it easier to help him if there were any problems, as they would indicate areas of concern. I would initial his planner to indicate I made sure he did his homework, studied for a test or worked with him on a project.

The proactive parent who wants their child to succeed and is willing to work a little to make it happen can succeed just making sure the homework is done. Other times it involves helping your child prepare for a test by quizzing them. It doesn’t take a lot of time in most cases and your child will respond. The interest you show encourages them to do well.

Swagger Tags

It’s a pain in the butt when your kid loses something at school. Most communities have limited choices in styles and colours of backpacks, for example. An inexpensive way to personalize any student’s belongings is with Swaggertags. You can customize the tags and they are easy to attach to your gear. This increases the likelihood that a lost item will be returned. It is especially useful for younger students to identify their backpacks and helps teachers and other parents in identifying the bag if it’s left behind. A company or entity logo can be added making it possible for getting sponsors for schools and sports teams. For more information, contact Pierre at

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