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Many students would quite like to study, but don’t really know how to, or where to begin. This guide will show you how to study the most effective way, as proven by science! Good luck, put your reps in, and just start. 

Look to establish a four-week study plan (two weeks of holidays + first two weeks of term), doing at least two hours per day.


Note that ‘easy’ study techniques (like highlighting or re-reading notes) are NOT effective! Study needs to be ‘hard’ because you want to make your brain grind (just like when building muscle, you need to ‘stress’ your muscles - remember, your brain is a muscle too!)


  • Make it obvious - always study in one area, have everything set-out ready for the session

  • Look to ‘stack’ habits - this makes it more likely you will establish routines you stick to E.g. Morning: drink a big glass of water then do one hour of study then walk the dog; Evening: wash the dishes then do one hour of study then listen to a podcast.

  • Create a revision timetable (see ‘interleaving’) with little rewards built in and share it with whānau (helps with accountability). Block out your fixed commitments (work, training etc) and put your timetable on the wall.

  • Study with a friend, and put your phone out of reach! Handwrite your notes, rather than typing.

Key techniques (proven by science!)

  • INTERLEAVING (think ‘weaving’) Switching between subjects and topics.


An example:

Write a paragraph for English 15 mins

Then self-quiz biology notes using flash cards for 15 mins

Then practice a maths problem from a past paper 30 mins

  • RETRIEVAL PRACTICE (aka thinking hard)


An example:

Get a blank sheet of paper and write down everything you know about a topic.

Then (this is the crucial bit) check your class notes/text book to see what you missed or what you got wrong.


Flashcards are another form of retrieval practice.

  • DUAL CODING (combining words and visuals ) Alongside handwritten notes use:





We all learn best when we have multiple representations of the same idea.


Before you begin, read these notes and watch the videos which will help you to understand how to study really effectively (from The Learning Scientists)...

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