Study Skills & Strategies for Students

Posted on Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

This web story was adapted from a blog post by Blue Cluster Teacher Rebecca Felt.

Photography by Brett Deutsch, 2017

As students prepare for taking tests, it is important that they know ways to study effectively to ensure information is retained rather than just memorized. Below are four strategies that can be helpful for students to use when studying for a test.

Strategy #1: Rhyme it 

Trying to memorize a list of facts or information? Turn it into a rhyme.

Ancient storytellers who didn’t know how to read or write could recite epic-length poems completely from memory. They depended on rhythm, alliteration, and rhyming words to help trigger their memories of the entire work. Throughout history, many people have used short rhymes to help them remember various facts.  Some of the more well-known rhymes used for remembering facts are “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue,” or “30 days has September, April, June, and November.”

Strategy #2: Create an Acronym

Do you have a list of information or a formula that you must memorize? Turn it into an acronym.

An acronym is a word that is formed by taking the first letters from several words in a series. It can be helpful when you are memorizing a list of facts or a formula. For example, PEMDAS. Used in math to describe the order of operation, PEMDAS stands for parenthesis, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, subtraction. Some people also remember it as, “Please excuse my dear Aunt Sally.” Another example of an acronym is ROYGBIV, for the colors of the rainbow. (Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet.)

Strategy #3: Make an Association


Do you need to memorize a fact about a person or an event? Plan out a mental association.

Another mnemonic device is to think of a word or image that you associate with both the term and its definition. This mental association is a link between the term and the information you hope to remember about it.

For example, if you want to remember that Edison created the light bulb, you can look at Edison’s name and see the word SON in it.  “SON” sounds like “SUN” so you can associate Edison’s name with the sun.  The sun is a source of light.  So, by linking Edison with the sun, you can bring to mind the image of light and the light bulb.

Strategy #4: Draw a Picture

Are you a visual learner? Draw a picture to help you remember a concept.

You’ve probably heard the expression, “A picture is worth a thousands words.”  Well, it’s also much easier to remember pictures than words. You can therefore use mental images and pictures instead of words and phrases to help you remember something.

For example, one way to associate two or more words together is to create a picture in your mind that connects them. The Battle of Saratoga was a major turning point in the Revolutionary War because 6,000 British Troops surrendered. See the example above, where the emphasis was on working through a way to represent the information visually could help create a stronger memory of the concept.