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How to Teach Study Skills

Updated on September 17, 2017
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Rebecca Graf is a seasoned writer with nearly a decade of experience. She holds degrees in accounting, history, and creative writing.


Study skills are not as commonly known or applied as you might think. Too many parents and teachers assume students know how to study especially if it came easy to them. The truth is that they have to be taught throughout a child's school years even until the college years. Even returning students will find a need for these.

So, how do you teach study skills? You first have to know why it is important.

Importance of Learning Good Study Skills

Why should good study skills be taught? Without good study skills, good grades cannot be obtained. This could mean no scholarships, no jobs, and a struggle in future desired careers.

Good study skills also are good in overcoming learning disabilities and retaining information. Without these skills, many students get left behind that shouldn't. They probably don't even know they need to learn better skills. That is why teachers and parents need to know good study habits and how to teach them.


It is very important that a student's life is structured. Now, don't misunderstand me here. I'm not saying you need to be so regimented that there is no fun time and no flexibility. What I'm saying is that there has to be enough structure so that a student knows when it is time to study and when it is time to play.

Structure study time when the child's mind is fresher and able to digest what it takes in. Some kids are morning learners. Some are afternoon or night learners. Learn to structure around their natural tendencies.

Work up a calendar that you and the student have access to. Make it easy to read and understand. Create a place to study and a structure where the student knows exactly what to do.


In order to teach study skills, you have to be diligent. You can't do this haphazardly. You have to be on top of things and not getting sidetracked. That is a sure way to not learn any of these vital skills.

Set alarms to help you stay on task. Put it on the calendar. Never let anything else get between you and what you need to do in teaching study skills. The same goes for the student. They have to be diligent, too.

Don't Put Anyone in a Mold

Never put a student in a mold you mentally have of them. I've been the student and have seen how that can destroy any chance of learning. Everyone is different and needs to be looked at as they are.

Some students are more visual in learning. Don't try to force them to learn through lectures. They need to find a way around those that teach best with lectures. A good teacher realizes there are different learning styles and tries to work with the students.

Just because one student caught one quickly doesn't mean another will do the same. Approach each person you are teaching study skills to as something entirely new and different because they are. They have different challenges and different needs. This means the teaching of study skills has to be different.


I just mentioned how every person you teach needs to be approached differently. That means some experimenting on your part. Start off with a basic teaching plan that you use. See how it works. It might be the perfect plan, but if they are not getting it you have to change things up a bit.

Discover what kind of learner they are. Adjust your teaching to match that. Always be open to new ways to teach the skills and new ideas to get the lessons cemented in their minds.

Shoot, you might have the beginnings of a book about teaching good study skills.


One thing that most student's find helpful in learning material is to have it repeat. One thing that most student's find helpful in learning material is to have it repeat.Got it?

My mother always said to repeat something 3 times to remember it. Granted, it didn't always work, but most of the time it did. If I have to remember a phone number, I say it three times.

When it comes to studying, reading over a section multiple times helps the information to sink in. Repetition can also come through flash cards and writing things down. It is the over and over again that sinks into the mind and stays there. It is needed there for the test.

Stupid Phrases

I don't know how else to title this. They are stupid (or cute, I guess) phrases that help you remember. These were lifesavers for me in school and helped me end biology with a 100 average and A's in other classes.

How do I still know the capital of Hungary? They were so hungry that they ate pests. Budapest.

Who discovered penicillin? Ian Fleming because I knew a guy named Fleming who was a pain in the neck.

Stupid, right? But they worked as you can see almost thirty years later.



The best study skills in the world are no match for someone who is not focused. You have to be focused to retain information. When you are teaching good study skills, eliminate distractions, and give them work that is eye-catching and keeps the attention on the work at hand.

Anything that pulls the focus from the studying should be gotten rid of. I'm a great student, but if I get distracted I can do horrible on the simplest of assignments.


Be Organized

You would be so surprised how much difference being organized brings to those who need to study. I can read and write at a messy desk, but put me in front of a cleaned and organized one.... I can be so much more productive. The same can be said about studying.

The study area needs to be organized. It will help the student stay focused and efficient. Otherwise, he is too busy looking for stuff he should be able to find easily.

Have school supplies stored in an organized and logical method. That includes backpack, desk, and locker. Organization helps the mind rest and focus on what it needs to be focusing on.

Note Taking

Taking notes is vital in most study habits. What is the big deal about taking notes? It's just a rehash of everything, right? Right and not so right.

When a student takes notes, it is a repeat of what they have just heard, saw, or read. It's not a repeat of everything. It is a repeat of the highlights. This is part of the repetition that is important and proves to be beneficial in most circumstances.

It is more than just a rehash because it is your cheat sheet. Yes, that is what I said. Notes are a way of taking what has been taught to you and putting it in a format that is for you and you only. I had a class in college that was all lecture. I took very unique notes. My roommate looked over them and asked what language it was. It was actually abbreviations and acronyms that I used everywhere. I got tired of writing long words and phrases out. I condensed the lecture into a form that I could follow later.

Review Material

Another good study skill is to review the material. Whether you just read it, heard it lectured, or watched a video, go back and review it. For some people it is better to review a few hours later. For others, it should be reviewed the next day or two. But review of the material is essential.


It helps in the retention of material studied. Reading a chapter in a textbook gives you a good idea of stuff, but to really get it to soak in you need to read it again and maybe again. Never assume one reading or lecture is enough.

Use the Senses

Don't forget that we were given senses to help us acquire information. These are important and can be valuable study skills.

Eyes -Everyone learns with their eyes. Some just do more so than others do. For example, I'm a very visual learner. I color code my notes. I circle key words. I do anything I can to draw my attention to my notes. I was one to use flashcards and such.

Ears -Some people learn through hearing. They can hear anything and remember it better than receiving it any other way. These people might need to hear a lecture over and over. They might even be stimulated with music to help learn as they read.

Smell -You can't exactly smell what you are studying. Okay, some things you might but generally no. so, how can smell help someone while studying? It can create a study conducive environment. I love clean smells. I relax when I detect them. I seem to be more aware with them. Each person reacts to smells in their own unique way.

Touch - Depending on what you are studying, touch might come into play but might be one of the lesser used senses.

Taste - The same can go for taste. Experiment and see what you can come up with.

One Bite at a Time

Don't try to learn it all at one time. Explain how information can be absorbed better one bite at a time. How do you really appreciate a good cheesecake? One bite at a time. If you gulped it down, you would barely remember the flavor.

Take a textbook, not one chapter at a time, but one section at a time. Do it in increments. Don't overdo it. You'll regret it.

Be Supportive

One of the best things you can do when teaching study skills is to just be supportive. That is one of the biggest helps anyone can get. Studying can be discouraging especially when you don't have the skills to do it right.

Give a hand when they need it.

Give an encouraging word.

Be patient.



When a student achieves something, celebrate. That does so much in the way of helping the student feel good about themselves and give them the drive to learn more. Suddenly those study skills don't seem so strange after all.

Celebrate with a party, treats, a movie, or anything else that will make the student smile.

Never ever let a chance for an encouraging word get by you.

What has proven to be the best study skill you ever used?

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