Study Strategies II: Improve Your Learning

Pedro T Gondim

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Have you established your overall study goals? Once you've determined your study goals, it's important to look at your study habits to ensure you are giving yourself the best opportunity to achieve your goals. The following tips will help you to get the most out of each study session:

1. Set up a Study Schedule

To set up a good schedule, look at how many hours per week you want/need to contribute to study, keeping in mind the study goals you want to achieve. Assign a suitable number of hours that will give you enough time to contribute to your study. When developing your schedule, consider that it may need to be revised regularly to account for any change in other commitments in your life. Remember Point 8 from the previous edition - Create a Study Framework!

2. When to Study

It is recommended that you carry out study when you are alert, rested and have planned for it.

3. Where to Study

Study anywhere that you feel comfortable and where you will be free from distractions. Areas that give you privacy, quietness and where you can spread out all your learning materials are best. Remember Point 6 from the previous edition - Build a Study Temple!

4. Study Strategies

It can often be daunting when you have a number of readings to cover for a particular topic. Many find the ‘PQ3R’ strategy of assistance:

PREVIEW: Have a general look through the workbook and readings for the unit before you start them. This will give you an overview of the concepts and techniques you will be learning.

QUESTION: As you are working through the readings, ask yourself questions - what, why, how, when, who and where. This will assist your comprehension and understanding of relationships between the main concepts.

READ: Unfortunately, reading is not skimming over pages and only reading sentences in bold or italics (though these usually do have particular importance). Reading actively for learning, comprehension and retention involves:

a) Reading every sentence

b) Gleaning the main idea for every paragraph, section and the reading as a whole.

c) Extracting important information and details from each paragraph, section and reading.

d) Taking notes - while not mandatory, some students find it useful to write down the main idea and important information and details. If you do, keep the notes you have made logically and legibly, otherwise you have wasted your time in taking notes.

RECALL: Stop reading regularly to periodically review the main concepts or points of the reading. Actively try to connect these new concepts to what you already know and have covered previously.

REVIEW: At the end of your study session, spend some time reviewing what you have covered during your study time.

5. Continuing your Study

It is probably best if you are able to complete a segment of study (eg a particular reading or section of a workbook) in its entirety before your study session finishes. However, you may not be able to do this for those particularly long or in-depth sections or readings. At your next study session, it is beneficial to revise the work that you have already completed in the section or reading to make it easier to carry on. Revision can also apply as you are progressing through each workbook - it is useful to go over previous sections of the workbook at the start of your next study session to assist recall of the main concepts and points.

© Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors. If you wish to republish or reproduce this article, please include this information in the end of the article. For more information about the Institute – please visit To access our Article Library, visit

Pedro Gondim is a writer and publisher for the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors. The Institute is Australia's largest counsellor training provider, offering the internationally renowned Diploma of Professional Counselling.


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