We are all students, whether we are in a school program or navigating life’s lessons.

In order tm o improve your study skills, you have to pay attention to how you learn best. Reading, hearing, hands-on, images, repetition and your own mental, physical and emotional health are all factors in how you learn.

Everyone “hits a wall.” Writers stare at a blank page, actors get stage fright, students get test anxiety. These are opportunities to review and reshape study habits and patterns.

Here are a few things you can do to reach your study goals:

1. What do you love learning? Sometimes it looks like playing, but what comes easily to you? That’s a valuable clue. Do you have to touch, taste, smell or hear as part of the process?

2. What do you hate learning? What happens when you feel stuck? Where are you sitting, standing or bending? Are you indoors or outdoors? Can you touch, taste, hear or smell as part of the process? If it’s reading – can you see the lettering clearly?

3. What bad habits do you have? Are you easily distracted? Are you multi-tasking? What are you willing to change in order to improve your learning success?

4. What do you remember the next day or days later? Do you need to process information in small bits? Do you need an overview?

5. What is your motivation to learn? Are you required to take this class? If not, what benefit or gain do you expect once you master the learning curve?

6. Make a list of positive and negative learning experiences. What is similar in the positive experiences? What are the common aspects of the negative experiences? Can you use this information to help you choose not only the course you want to study, but to examine the teaching methods.

7. Do you need time for information to “sink in?” You can assemble the ingredients for a cake, but if you don’t put them into a pan and bake them in the oven, you will not have a cake. Sometimes collecting information is not enough. Take the time you need to process the information. That may mean taking a break and revisiting the subject weeks or months later.

8. Repetition can be valuable. Marketing experts know that in order for a message to stick, you must be exposed to it a minimum of 21 times. I certainly enjoy singing mmalong to a favorite artist and will play a song or album over and over without getting bored. I have learned that repeating information, especially something that I need to say or sing out loud, is the best way to internalize the information.

9. Tricks of the trade. I have learned to memorize a sequence of numbers by setting them to a familiar tune. I have made rhymes, puns and jokes or mnemonics to help jog my memory. If it helps you remember and gives you a sense of mastery – use whatever works for you.

10. We shall overcome. When I’m really stuck, I look for examples of people who faced and overcame huge odds. I find it inspirational to think about what is possible – and it keeps me off the “pity pot.”

Learning can be a breeze or it can be an uphill struggle. It’s not what happens to you, but how you deal with the challenge that will determine your success in learning, if not mastering new skills.

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