Study skills

Ignore those people saying there’s only one ‘right’ way to study for your GCSEs. When it comes to producing work and absorbing information, different approaches work well for different people.

To discover your best method for concentrating on your coursework or revising for exams, it’s helpful to ask yourself four main questions.

SPACE – Where do you concentrate best?

Comfort is an important factor in choosing a place to study. Whether it’s the school library, in your bedroom or a public space, work out where you feel relaxed and able to focus. Also make sure you have everything you need nearby, and remember to take regular breaks.

METHOD – What helps you remember information?

Below are a few ideas to try, but you may also discover your own unique style. Choose whatever makes you feel most confident about what you’re learning:

  • Organise your thoughts on paper or a computer screen. Condensing your work by restructuring and ‘shrinking’ the details down in a new set of notes may help you to arrange and access the information in your brain.
  • Set yourself tests or quizzes for each topic you’re studying. This can highlight gaps in your knowledge you didn’t know were there.
  • Break down your topic into bite-sized pieces, and then read each one numerous times to learn the main details of each.

TIME – How long does your attention really last?

Be realistic. If you study solidly for three hours, it’s unlikely the last hour will be as effective as your first. Does your concentration start to fade after 30 minutes? Then split your work into 30-minute chunks and do something different after each one. Don’t forget to reward yourself with regular breaks when you reach certain milestones or goals.

HELP – Do you need support?

If you’re finding something difficult, don’t be afraid to ask others for ideas or do a bit of research. There’s lots of help and advice available online, including resources like BBC Bitesize or our FAQs. You could stumble across something that changes your whole approach to studying, which can still be useful when you do your A-levels or a university degree.