Dreaming of an E endorsement this year? Impossibly bored of school and wanna get out ASAP? Contemplating your own existence in this meaningless world of tests and standards and bumps and humps and teachers and memes and NZQA and the rest? Yeah, us too.



We might not be able to solve your existential crisis, but we can comfort you with a simple truth: refined study skills can save you a lot of needless pain and suffering at school.

The trick to academic success is not necessarily to slave away at the books for hours and hours, but instead channel your hard work through smarter strategies which get that information in your brain efficiently. Don’t believe us? Try it out for yourself.



Don’t Memorize- Fantasize!


So it’s time to study the parts of the brain. How boring. But, you can get that long list of brain parts embedded in your brain with a little bit of creativity. Let’s say you are struggling to remember what the heck the hippocampus is. Right now all you’ve got is it’s a thing on this stupid long list. Well, let’s grab ahold of that word, and introduce a little fantasy.



Picture a large hippo working in your school’s library. She wears a polka dot dress and wears glasses. Currently she is putting a huge stack of books back on the shelves. Ok, so what does that have to do with the hippocampus? Well, it’s a hippo on campus putting books in their proper place. The hippocampus is the part of your brain responsible for taking memories and putting them into long term storage. Consider those books to be memories and those shelves to be your long term storage, and presto! That hippo is helping you learn those words.

Make your memorization tasks silly and outrageous. The wilder the better. So long as you’ve got some image that you can connect directly to both the meaning and the term, your brain will memorize it in a flash.



Play With It


Studying can be a tedious task, or it can be an opportunity to play with information. How exactly can you “play” with information?

Easy, just pick out the information you want to learn, and start breaking it down. What are the key terms? What are those key terms connected to? Didn’t you have a friend back in your hometown who always said that word funny? What do those words make you think of? Make a game of it. 



Find connections to the information you are exploring to your personal life, to your other class topics, to whatever outrageous thoughts you’ve got bouncing around your mind. Those connections help you learn information, so don’t force your nose down to the book. Instead let yourself play around with whatever thoughts your work evokes.

Here are a bunch of ways you can play with your information:


  • Draw it– What kind of picture can you make to capture that information


  • Make it into a story – Can you connect a bunch of the terms into a single story? Once you’ve made that story, post it on facebook!


  • See what your friends in the same class think. 


  • Flash Card Pile Up – Put the key terms on flash cards and try organizing them in creative ways. What if the first part of the Renaissance was the creation of the cell phone? Let yourself create crazy situations, and then compare them to reality. Oh how different the world would be!


The more you play, the more you become familiar with the information, and the higher your grades will climb!



The Ten Point Challenge


You are staring down the face of an incredibly tedious chapter of your textbook. Your teacher wants you to read it and pass a test on it tomorrow morning. How to make progress without ripping eyeballs out from the insufferable mediocrity?

Time for the ten point challenge!

Flip through that chapter and isolate all the headings. What do you think this bad boy is going to be about? Before you dive in, take a guess at what the main points of the chapter will be. For example, if you are reading about different authors in the 20th century, those main points might consist of the authors and their major works. Write down your guesses.

Now you can skim through that chapter looking for confirmation of your guesses. Read for ten main points in the text. Don’t just read mindlessly. Read with purpose! You are searching for those main points to write down. Those headers are a big help, so make use of them!



Once you’ve made your predictions, confirmed or modified them according to your purposeful reading, you have just made yourself a handy dandy cheat sheet on that chapter. Know those Ten points, and you are well on your way to getting an Excellence.

Save those ten points you wrote down and when it comes to exam time, you’ve already made yourself a study guide. That’ll help reduce you exam anxiety and boost those marks. Study smart, not hard, kids. You got this.