Cameron Lonsdale

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  • Studying Techniques

    My Personal, Logical way to study

    This article is a reflection of my personal methods of studying which I find effective. Feel free to try any of these techniques for yourself.

    Big Picture

    Studying is great tool to help you learn and memorise information, and to develop and strengthen skills. In order to make this tool effective you need to use it appropriately, the first step to that is to recognise where you currently are and where you want to be.


    Take the time to reflect upon your studies and results from the past and gain a firm understanding in your head of what your current academic results are.


    Now draft up some goals of what you want to achieve with your study (maybe to pass or get 90% and above in a subject). Sometimes you don’t need to write the goals down they can just be cemented in your head like an underlying guide.

    With an understanding of our start and finish line we can being to formulate the steps between to get us there.

    Ground Work

    In order to strengthen we need to identify weaknesses. Firstly, go through your most recent exam and identify questions that you get wrong or ideas that you struggled to understand. For each subject, write these points down on a piece of paper which I call a “Pitfall sheet”. Keep this sheet handy as you will use it a lot during your study.

    In my last maths exam I was penalised for messy equations of asymptotes and induction conclusions. Aswell as forgetting some aspects of 3D Trig and Parabola Locus


    Number of Hours

    Study plans sound hard but are very effective if done properly. Writing down or remembering the number of hours you want to achieve in study is a great way to stay on track and measure your performance. If you know how many hours you can study in a week or two then use those numbers as your guide else try to evaluate your studying habits and estimate a total number of hours you could study during the studying period. I recorded approximately 90 Hours of study over a two week holiday period, For the next holidays I set a goal of 120 hours over the three weeks. Both during and after studying you can use this number as a broad goal that youre trying to achieve and a great tool to be satisfied with your study if you reach it.

    Day To Day Plan

    Either using paper or a computer, write down for each subject some small objectives that would help you reach your final big picture goal of a better result.

    For the example above, Business studies, I’ve written down that at the beginning of my three weeks of study I know that I need to do some general revision to refresh my memory. Multiple choice questions, some small short answers and reading over essay structures will be helpful in reacquainting myself with all the topics and the exam structure. Once that stage is complete move on to more meatier study like memorising your notes and practicing questions and essays. Finally as your near the exams or the end of your study period, complete past papers in whole, time them and learn from them.

    Putting the Plan into Action

    The easiest way I have found in order to reach your number of hours of study a day is to pretend a holiday is a normal school day. Go to bed at a reasonable hour, get up normal time, get dressed and sit down to study for the majority of the day. If you try to create a concrete order of study for your subjects it will probably fail, study what you want to study (within reason). If you really feel like studying maths then study maths; if you hate studying English then well, you still need to study English but you need to find ways to get yourself motivated for those subjects you’re not that inclined to study for. At the end of each day, take note of how many hours you studied, tick off any objectives you have completed from your planning sheet and don’t forget to reward yourself for a day well done.


    Breaks and sleep are very important when studying do not forget them. Personally I study about 6 to 8 hours a day during the holidays in hourly blocks. Spend 50 mins studying a subject and then take a 10 minute break. Maybe spend two hours studying then take a long break for lunch. Remember the sun! remember what walking or running feels like, because for those individuals who are very focused you will regret forgetting those things. I experienced minor depression from studying one week straight and that just throws out your whole study plan because you cant study anymore. Finally, Make sure you do plan to socialise and relax, a change of scenery works wonders.

    Learning from your study

    Sure, doing questions and memorising information is great but how do you know you’re actually learning? If you’re trying to remember information, test yourself! Put away your notes and try to recall the information with or without prompts.

    Testing myself on the whole topic of marketing I kept forgetting some key things from my notes so i wrote them down on my “Pitfall Sheet”.

    The same process applies for answering questions.

    Pitfall Sheets can be organised with colours or any other way which suits your learning style to help you remember.

    After answering individual maths questions and completing timed maths exams I noted down all the questions I got wrong and then went back to the piece of information regarding that topic. Knowing what questions and topics I struggled with I could then write them down on my “Pitfall Sheet”.

    As you progress further with study you can even take items off your pitfall sheet if you are confident that you now know that piece of information or skill.

    During the studying period you build a document of your weaknesses for you to start to memorise and improve upon. Hopefully by the end of the studying period you wont need the sheet anymore.

    Good Luck and Stay Motivated!