The art of learning: seven ways to improve your learning skills

Northholm Grammar is committed to developing a culture of learning through scholarship by challenging and encouraging students to achieve high academic standards and achieving their personal best. 

We are a school that is intentional in promoting learning, fostering continuous improvement for students and teachers alike; understanding that, for many young adults, maintaining interest and discipline when learning a new skill can be challenging for a number of reasons. These reasons may include ineffective study techniques, fear of being wrong, poor time management and the temptation of distractions, such as social media and other forms of entertainment. At Northholm, we are committed to supporting individuals on their learning journey.

Here are our top seven tips on how to enhance learning skills and teach your mind to effectively concentrate on studies.

1. Design a realistic study program

To keep yourself motivated and focused, it is essential to establish a realistic study program. Set defined, short-term study goals and keep them in front of you so that you are clear on what you need to achieve. Include regular breaks in your study schedule to refresh your mind and avoid burnout. Try not to study when you feel tired, as it can significantly impact your concentration and retention. Lastly, we recommend studying similar subjects at different times, as you may find it difficult to distinguish the similar, but different information later. By developing this learning skill, you will allow your brain to have more time to consolidate your learnings.

2. Avoid procrastination

Procrastination can hinder your progress and make it challenging to maintain focus on your studies. Aim to get started on your studies quickly to build momentum and achieve more. If a task seems enormous or overwhelming, break it down into smaller, manageable parts. Always strive to complete a job or section rather than leaving it for the next day. Unfinished tasks can weigh you down and affect your overall motivation.

3. Work actively

Research shows that reading notes and text is not an effective learning strategy. Instead, actively engage with the material by writing or summarising what you are learning. Periodically close the book or cover your notes to test your recall on your studied content. Incorporating self-testing into your study routine can significantly enhance your understanding and retention of information. A large part of your study time should be dedicated to testing yourself.

4. Be prepared to seek help

Don’t hesitate to seek help when faced with a difficult task. If a problem persists despite your genuine efforts to address it, set it aside temporarily and seek assistance from a teacher or peer. If you are struggling with a text or website that’s not helpful, stay positive and look for alternatives if relevant. Embrace mistakes as part of the learning process and remember, everyone makes them. Use your mistakes as an opportunity for growth and learning, rather than allowing them to discourage you.

5. Refrain from letting your mind wander

Maintaining focus when learning a new skill can be difficult when your mind starts to wander. If you develop a mindset that there is always an answer, you will eventually find it. When you find yourself thinking about other things you need to do, write them down for yourself to remember later and redirect your focus to the task at hand. If you find yourself losing track of a topic, go back over your earlier work to refresh your mind and regain clarity. 

If a personal problem is weighing on your mind, consider getting it out of the way by facing it or make a definitive plan to address it later. Ask yourself whether you can discuss your problem at home with a family member or at School with a Counsellor. Talking it over with someone is often the first step to finding a solution. Unresolved problems can often distract you from your studies.

6. Know when to stop

Learning to recognise the importance of knowing when to take breaks or to stop studying altogether is an important study skill to have. If you genuinely feel tired, it may be time to rest or take a longer break. Differentiate between genuine fatigue and boredom to improve your learning experience. If you have been studying intensively for an extended period of time or it is late in the day, it is more effective to resume your studies until the next day when you are refreshed.

7. Work to improve your memory

Memory plays an important role in the learning process. It’s a three-part process ­– learning or taking in new material, retaining what has been learnt and recalling it later. To enhance your memory, focus on understanding the material before attempting to remember it. Try putting the ideas into your own words, not those of your teacher or text, to ensure you are comprehending the material yourself.

A small portion of your learning will require learning by rote ­– reading or writing something over and over again ­rather than general understanding, such as dates, names, formulas and equations. Take advantage of visual aids, create diagrams or maps from your notes and engage. Many students learn better by seeing rather than hearing.

Improving your learning skills and study skills is critical for successful learning and personal growth. By implementing these seven essential tips, you will be effectively prepared to take on your education challenges and fulfil your potential.

To learn more about Scholarship and Learning at Northholm, click here