Study Skills

Students! You are our most important stakeholders. Your parents rely a lot on you to pass on information about what is happening in our schools. You can help in shaping the education system so that our citizens of the future are informed and active in the development of the country. To do so you must obey your school rules, teachers and parents, do your assignments, participate in extra-curricula activities and stay away from all acts of crime and violence.

Acquiring good study skills is very important in helping you to make the best use of your time, find information expeditiously and improve your learning. Here are some tips to guide you in improving your study skills.

  1. Establish Priorities
    1. Prioritize your assignments. Do not wait until the day before an assignment is due to start researching on it. Once it is given, start working on it. Do the most important things first.
    2. Create a “To Do” list or use an organizer to help you to establish your priorities
  1. Know your resources – There are a lot of persons and places that you can utilize to access more information about your assignments
    1. The library – Join and use your school, community or parish library. Remember to return all books borrowed and donate books to libraries
    2. Teachers – Talk to your teacher or other educators who are professionals in your area of study. They can give you advice on your school work
    3. Friends and families – Your friends and families may be are aware of some of the topics you are doing. Ask them to help you to understand it more and/or where to look for information. Remember some of them may have done the same courses or subjects earlier.
    4. Community Members – Utilise the skills and expertise of community members.
    5. Media – Watch programmes, such as documentaries, which are related to what you are studying. Take notes and write down the name of the programme, producer, date, time and station on which it is aired. This will help you to credit your source of information and also to identify when it may be aired again, or, if it is available for purchase.
    6. Magazines, Newspapers, Flyers, Brochures – These publications usually have current information since they are published frequently. You may cut out articles of interest for use in your studies
    7. Public and Private sector organizations – These organizations publish a wide variety of information you can access. These may include annual reports, gazettes, manuals, acts, handbooks, etc. The best way to access information from these organizations is through their Public Relations or Communications Unit. They can direct you to where the information is located.
  1. The SQ3R Method – This method was developed by Francis Robinson, a psychologist at Ohio State University. SQ3R means survey question, read, recite and review. If you are using this method when accessing information from a book you should:
    1. Survey – Read the title, subtitle, introductory and concluding paragraphs and summary. Examine the graphs, charts, pictures and the notes that describe them.
    2. Question – Ask yourself some questions about what you have examined. If there are questions at the end of the book try to answer them. This will test your knowledge of the topic, and prepare you for tests about it.
    3. Read – Re-read the summaries, introductory and concluding paragraphs, and description of graphs, charts and pictures. Read a chapter if you still need more information on the topic
    4. Recite – Answer the questions you have noted orally. Use your own words and try to give examples. You may jot down key phrases or word to help you to remember points
    5. Review – Repeat steps b, c and d and review each section or chapter of the book. Revise your notes. Try to answer questions without looking at your notes or the book. Remember to be like a detective: investigate, interrogate (ask questions), apprehend answers and state evidence
  1. Learn to skim materials for information. To do this you should:
    1. Read the title
    2. Read the Table of Contents
    3. Read the preface, foreword or introduction to identify the purpose of the book
    4. Examine the appendices
    5. Check the index. It can help you to locate a specific piece of information
    6. Check the copyright page. It will provide you with information on the resource such as the date of publication and the place of publication
    7. Read the chapter headings
  1. Making Notes – Since no one can retain all the information received it is important for him to record it so that he can access it in the future. Note taking helps you to extend your memory, learn new material, organize your thoughts, review material, summarize and gather information (The Communications Handbook). Here are some tips to help you when you are taking notes:
    1. Make sure that you write out notes as legibly as possible and leave a space between ideas.
    2. Write down the date the notes were taken, the source and the name of the subject the notes are pertaining to
    3. Keep your notes in a book or organized in stapled sheets of paper
    4. Write your notes in your own words
    5. Be very brief and write down only the main points
    6. Use symbols and abbreviations where necessary but make sure you can understand them when you are reviewing at a later date


Many of us are required to sit an examination very early in our lives. Primary school students, for instance, sit at least four major tests prior to high school. Preparing for an examination does not commence the night before the exam but actually from the beginning of your course of study. Here are some guidelines to help you to be better prepared for an examination:

  1. Studying for the Exam
    1. Make sure that you know the kind of exam you are studying for. Some exams are multiple choice, whilst others require a lot of writing
    2. Make sure that you have the course outline and collect past papers for review
    3. Start studying for the exam weeks before it is given
    4. Make sure your notes are organized and capture most of the topic
    5. Choose a regular place and time to study
    6. Make sure that your place of study is quiet, comfortable, cool, clean, organized and well lit
    7. Avoid distractions such as cell phones, I-pods, etc. If possible, turn them off
    8. Review the materials, at least, twice per day and the evening before the exam
    9. Use past papers to try and anticipate questions you will be asked. Try to answer them in outline form
    10. Make sure that you bond with your classmates, as group studying is important to clarify ideas and build confidence. You can always study by yourself when you choose to
  1. Writing the exam paper – Examinations have many different formats. They may include true and false, multiple choice, short answer, essay and fill-in-the-blanks questions.
  1. Make sure that you get a good night’s rest before an exam or test
  2. If you feel nervous, take deep breaths of air and try to think of something which makes you feel happy and confident
  3. Read the questions carefully before you start writing
  4. Look for specific directions so that you do not give a wrong answer. For example, circle the correct answer, write in ink, do all rough work on the exam paper or answer only one question from this section
  5. Once you have determined the length of exam determine the time you will need to answer the questions. Remember to leave at least 5 minutes for revision
  6. Write cleanly and neatly. An F that looks like a T will be marked as incorrect. If you do not remember how to spell a word, or have forgotten its meaning, do not use it at all
  7. Make sure that you clearly understand what is asked of you. Look for key words, such as explain, compare, discuss or define. These words do not mean the same thing
  8. Use formal style of writing, that is, Standard Jamaican English. Essays should be written in paragraphs with a thesis statement which clearly states your position.
  9. Be clear and concise
  10. Use your time wisely
  11. Review your work. Make sure that you have answered the questions asked and that there are no grammatical, spelling, mathematical or punctuation errors.
  12. Make sure that your name is on all the pages.


Completing your homework is one of the best ways to gain more knowledge of what is being done at school, bond with your family, develop independent learning skills and improve your time management skills. It is important that you exercise good homework strategies if you want to succeed at school. Here are some strategies to help you to complete your homework on time, and to ensure it is well done:

  1. If the homework is written on the board, make sure that you have copied it off legibly and accurately and understand what is required of you. Ask your teacher to clarify any thing you are unsure of before you go home
  2. Write your homework in your note book.
  3. Place your homework in your bag. Do not leave your bag unattended as your homework could be stolen or misplaced.
  4. Do not place your homework near items such as your swim clothes and lunch container. These should be placed in separate bags and not in the bag you carry your homework.
  5. Make sure that you do your homework as early as possible. Do not wait until it is near bedtime when you are too sleepy. If possible, you can do it after school in the library before you get home. You should try to set a time to do your homework everyday
  6. Make sure that the place you choose to do your homework is quiet and free from distraction
  7. Gather all the things you need to do your homework before you start: dictionary, atlas, textbook, pencil, sharpener, pens, etc.
  8. Ask your parents or older siblings to help you if you still do not understand what is required.
  9. Make sure that the page is headed properly with the title of the subject, the date, grade and your teachers’ name.
  10. Read over your homework when you are through. Make sure you have answered what your teacher asked and it can be read.
  11. Place your homework in your bag when you are finished
  12. Present it to your teacher the next day