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How to Study

Effective study habits are the key to a successful school career but there are multiple factors that affect how well students can retain information. Here we explore some of the influences and give you tips to help your child develop effective study habits.

Study, study, study!

The best way to streamline study habits is to learn time management. Encourage your child to set realistic goals for study and avoid last minute cramming. For sixth formers and GCSE students, studying for 30 to 50 minutes at a time with a ten minute break is recommended. Research shows that retention rates are 60% higher when information is reviewed within 24 hours of hearing, so encourage your child to review their learning within one day of the lesson. Also, studies show that cramming pushes information into our short-term memory rather than long-term memory, which is where information should go for more successful retention.


Many students may say that listening to music helps them to study; however, a 2010 Applied Cognitive Psychology study showed that participants who listened to music whilst studying had the poorest recall abilities.


Being tired when studying is ineffective but getting the right amount of sleep allows information to sink in. A study in an American College observed the academic success of students with different sleep schedules. The groups were separated into three categories: Night Owls who go to bed later and do their best at night, Morning Larks who do their best in the morning and then Regular Robins who are alert between 8am and 9pm but tired by 10pm. The results of the study showed that Regular Robins and Morning Larks significantly outperformed the Night Owls.

So what strategies should your child use?

Everyone is different, but most students find repetition and applying their understanding to practice exam questions is particularly useful.

Some useful habits to develop:

  • Reading notes and then rewriting notes as a summary.
  • Use a highlighter to pick out the key points, distill those summaries onto flash cards with bullet points. A lot of students use this information to create poems, songs, mental pictures and mnemonics to help store the information in a memorable manner, which is easier to recall.
  • Applying new learning to past paper practice.

Everyone can develop effective study habits. If your child's current habits aren't working, encourage them to try something new.