How learning difficulties arise.
Sometimes the difficulties students have with preparing effectively for exams stem from a need to develop fundamental skills such as time management, reading for comprehension, note-taking, and coping with anxiety. If this is true of you, you might also find it helpful to read “Reading University Level Materials” and “Note-taking at University” to strengthen your essential learning skills.
How learning difficulties arise.
Some other reasons that students experience difficulties preparing for exams are related to:
- Constraints on time
- Lack of preparation of appropriate kinds
- Misplaced focus on the course material
In some cases students have difficulty developing an adequate understanding of the theoretical perspectives of the course or the course concepts and applying this understanding of one part of the course to another.
Others try to maintain their old approach to studies and this may involve them choosing to memorize materials when it may be more appropriate to work analytically or interpretively; this in turn may lead to increased anxiety and a chance of “blanking out” in exams.
Additionally, it is often the case that students seek effortless, short-term solutions to studying for exams, trying to learn a full year’s work in the matter of a few days intensive studying.
How Learning Difficulties Arise
Therefore, the reasons for failure or poor grades can often be traced to the absence or break-down of a productive approach to learning.
Providing you aren’t willing to be satisfied with moderate understanding and moderate grades, then you will probably be looking for ways to overcome these concerns. These kinds of issues are common to many students and can be worked out with a little instruction and application of new strategies to your efforts.
1. Set a schedule. Do you work better right after school or after you’ve eaten dinner? Are you more productive in 90-minute blocks or half-hour spurts? Find a schedule that works for you, and stick to it.
2. Manage your study space. Find a place that will maximize your productivity. Look for places away from the television and other distractions. Whether it’s your local library or just the desk in your bedroom, set aside a study space that you’ll want to spend time in.
3. Find a study group. Sitting down with a group of people who are learning the same things as you is a great way to go over confusing class material or prepare for a big test. You can quiz each other, reteach material, and make sure that everyone is on the same page. After all, teaching someone else is the best way to learn.
4. Get rid of distractions before they become distractions
The biggest obstacle to doing well in school is distractions. To overcome distractions, you can’t depend on willpower. Few of us have the willpower necessary to fight off all the distractions that surround us in this digital era. Here are some ways to eliminate distractions before they become distractions:
- Turn off notifications on your phone/tablet
- Delete all the apps that distract you
- Put your phone/tablet in another room before you start work
- Set a really, really long password to unlock your phone/tablet
- Restrict your Internet access
- Have only one tab open in your browser at any one time
- Find an accountability partner as you make these changes
5. Adopt a positive mental attitude
In the face of lower-than-expected grades, it’s only human to react by feeling disappointed with oneself. When you’re frequently receiving lower grades than you’d hoped for, you may start to feel depressed or defeated, and feel like giving up. The first step on the road to improving your grades is to turn this negativity on its head. You need to be positive about the situation if you’re to stand a chance of improving it. Acknowledge that your grades aren’t what you’re aiming for, but believe that you can do something about it. Start by mentally taking control of the situation: instead of thinking “I’m a failure”, think “I can and will do better than this.” Don’t give up – take positive steps towards achieving the improvement you’re more than capable of achieving.
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